Monday, January 11, 2010

a stereotypical conversation

Last Saturday, we ventured out into the cold and took my mom to Cleveland's Playhouse Square to see Flanagan's Wake, an improvisational, interactive play. It was a lot of fun.

But as Mike and I discussed the show yesterday, we realized we had spent an evening laughing and enjoying ourselves at what was basically two hours worth of racial stereotyping. For example...

As we entered the cabaret theater to take our seats, each audience member was given a name tag. Women had the name "Mary" added to their first name and men, "Patrick" So I became Mary Breda and Mike was Michael Patrick (funny because that is his real name and he actually has about 4 first cousins named Mary Somethingoranother.) This was done, presumably, because all the Irish name their children this way, dontcha know? The actors all sounded vaguely like a cross between the Lucky Charms leprechaun and someone from Belfast, where every sentence sounds like it's a question? and they were sure to use the requisite "JAY-sis" while taking the Lord's name in vain. I was somewhat disappointed that no one managed to slip in a "JAY-sis, Mary and Joseph," which I have been known to say on more than one occasion.

We Irish like to laugh at ourselves, to be sure, so we didn't find it offensive at all. Oftentimes, stereotypes exist for a reason...I mean, the bartender/mayor character could have been based on my own uncle.

Anyway, in the course of rehashing the event, Mike said, "The show was very similar to Tony & Tina's Wedding - isn't that kind of based on Italian stereotypes?"

"I'm not sure," I've never seen Tony & Tina's Wedding, so I couldn't say.

"I wonder if there are shows for other ethnic groups, like Germans."

"No, there are definitely no shows for Germans. Germans are boring."

Mike nodded in agreement. "Yeah, but we want Germans to be boring...because when Germans start to become exciting, that's when France gets invaded."


kjworz said...

Machen ze FUN of ze JERMANS? Nein!

Quote (approx) from Casablanca, a man is asking his wife the time:

"I've been prcaticing my English! Excuse, Liebchen? What watch?" [what time]

"6 watch." [6 o clock]

"Ooo! Such watch..." [so late!]

Yes, German as buffoon is out there. You Irish have more jokes because one of your big immigration waves came later/after ours.

Boring? NEIN!

Ed Rasimus said...

You need to see more Mel Brooks. He skewers stereotypical Nazis better than anyone ever has. Of course Monty Python sends up the British all too well. But we all have to tolerate ethnic stereotyping because it is such an American tradition. Right, Mr. President?

PPPP said...

Shore now, and watch it with the Irish jokes, ya heer?

There's them of us what don't necessarily apreesheate yur attempts at humor at our expense.

We does it ourselves, but we've earned the right.

Thank ye. Now have some more green beer, eh?

PPPP said...

Breda -

I went to school with a Michael Patrick. And his younger brother Sean.

Never for a minute did they have a prayer of passing for anything other than Irish.

Why did the ladies get the first name of Mary, but the men got the second name of Patrick? (I only ask, because like Mike, my middle name is Patrick. Sure now, it's a good Irish name, it is.)

Frank W. James said...

Having a strong German heritage, I was always told the Germans kept invading France, because the French girls would do things the German girls....I'll stop there and keep it "PG".

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Keith said...

I always thought France got invaded because the Germans get bored. You know, if the weather isn't right for golf, go fire up the tanks and head for Paris.

doubletrouble said...

You GOTTA mention this to Marko...

Haji said...

If you haven't seen it-lately-ya gotta check out The Producers. That's stereotypical German comedy, and fantastic songs, like "Springtime for Hitler". It's great!

John B said...

My girlfriend, almost 30 years ago. After visiting Paris.
Said, "Paris is a filthy, nasty, place. We should give it back to the Germans!"

Old NFO said...

Interesting... I have never seen that particular play... As usual it's okay to stereotype whites, but NO other race...

Lissa said...

Sounds like a good time!

Ed Foster said...

And how do Germans decorate their Christmas Trees? With gaily painted handgrenades.

I'm Irish, but with lots of relatives from Bavaria, Switzerland, Austria, and Sudentenland.

Grandma O'Connor had 9 sisters, and married off 5 of them to nice Catholic boys named Schweitzer, Hilgert, Piersig, Hoffmann, and Ostlander.

Corned beef and sauerkraut:-)

Since the women were mostly Gaelic speaking, and the men were mostly Hoch Deutch speaking, everybody got along swimmingly, and there were a lot of babies.

Dry note: The easy-going hillbilly German relatives came over here to avoid the Kaiser's conscription, and do those things mountain Krauts are best noted for.

Work, drink, party, make babies, party some more, and make a few more babies. Oh, and party. If there is anything less military than an Austrian farmer, have yet to meet it.

Old joke. God made Italians so the Austrians could have someone they could beat. Actually, it was a very close thing there in WWI, and the Austrians had to bring in some Germans to keep the Italians out.

The Great Uncles all enlisted in 1917, and went back to express their opinion of the Kaiser. It turned them into Americans.

And, from over here on the all Mick side of the family, isn't the proper usage "Jesus, Mary, and good Saint Joseph"?

Ed Foster.

fast richard said...

Didn't a guy named Wagner write some shows about Germans? As Mark Twain said, German humor is no laughing matter.

For audience participation German entertainment, try Oktoberfest.

Weer'd Beard said...

My Wife's family is mostly Irish and Itallian, and there are several "Mary's" but the family joke is if you're talking to a man at a family party and you forget his name, just call him "Peter" and chances are they will have no idea you forgot.

They all have various pet-names for the various Peters to alleviate confusion.

Mike W. said...

If Germans are boring I guess my Irish and Chilean blood spices up my German half :)

Anonymous said...

How did it go?

Heaven is where the police are British, the cooks are French, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian and it is all organised by the Swiss.

Hell is where the police are German, the cooks are English, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, and it is all organised by the Italians.

See, everyone can have a piece ;)


paul the pirate (Yar!) said...

I grew up just outside of South Boston. In my class of 17, there were 4 Sullies, 4 Mary's (some with Mary-hyphens), 2 Seans, only one Patrick (!) a Siobahn, and the odd Seamus, Finbar and a Paul. There was also a Carmine, for flavor. He had a 5-O'clock shadow when he was 9. When we played cowboys and indians, you can guess who was the indian, I suppose.