Tag Archives: black comedy

“Time For Black Folks to Get Their Own Nation”

B is a Black student at USC. In her free time, she enjoys dancing in a club on campus. B’s family is constantly joking around with each other. Her grandfather is credited with starting most of the proverbs, and her father adopted them.

Every time B’s father would ask B’s grandfather what time it was, he would answer, “It’s time for Black folks to get their own nation.” Now, B’s father answers the same way when B asks what time it is. B has adopted the saying as well, but she only responds with the proverb when another Black person asks her what time it is.

Family folklore is a special type of folklore because it connects a group of people together, and especially with B’s family, a lot of their family folklore is derived from their experience as Black Americans. According to B, her grandfather considers himself a “blackologist”. A lot of the proverbs made in B’s family are centered around empowering Black people, which is why her grandfather and father answer time related questions with “time for Black folks to get their own nation”. Time is an important part of American folklore, and a lot of folk speech is created from it. There is a possibility this proverb comes from “time for you to get a watch”, which is used as a way to poke fun at the person asking. In this version, however, there is no poking fun or putting someone down. There is more of an empowering, community-centered response. The fact that this proverb has been passed through generations shows that there continues to be a link between timeliness in American folklore, and more specifically, race in American folklore.

Joke: Theather humor


“What has two legs, a tail, and bleeds profusely?”

“Half a cat.”

My informant got this joke in high school. It was everyone’s favorite joke in her Theater class. Sometimes they would just text each other “Half a cat”. The informant says that she thought it was funny in an unexpected and twisted way.  It was mostly funny because it was an inside joke within the theater group. She said it in-jokes were in common in her theater class, they wouldn’t make sense to people outside the class.

This is kind of a joke riddle. The humor comes from the fact that the person thinks the answer is going to something they don’t know but then the answer is actually really simple. It actually reminds me of a joke from one of my favorite books How NOT to write a Novel “Giving a reader a sex scene that is only half right is like giving her half of a kitten. It is not half as cute as a whole kitten; it is a bloody, godawful mess ” (Mittelmark and Newman) Apparently in American society dead cats are a source of humor.