Comedian Gina Yashere’s new memoir is titled Cack-Handed; she explains it means “left-handed or awkward and clumsy, which I am all of these things.”
She’s also the first Brit to perform on Def Comedy Jam, a onetime senior British correspondent for The Daily Show, and the co-creator with Chuck Lorre of the CBS sitcom Bob Hearts Abishola, which uses her Nigerian heritage as comedic inspiration. We get into all of it on this week’s episode of The Last Laugh podcast where Yashere reveals the unique challenges she has faced in the entertainment industry and breaks down the inherent differences between British and American racism.
The comedian likes to joke on stage that her mother left sunny Nigeria for the “subtle racism” of the United Kingdom. Yashere couldn’t wait to flee London for the United States—even if discrimination in this country is far more blatant.
“When I first came over here—this was before the influx of Black British actors taking over Hollywood and just killing it—I would go on stage and open my mouth and people had no idea where I was from,” Yashere tells me. “They didn’t realize that there were Black people in England. And they don’t realize that the Brits were the biggest slavers. The British Empire ruled the planet at one point by subjugating millions of people all over the globe.” She never intended to make racism a central theme of her stand-up act, she adds, “but in just explaining who I was that had to be included in the conversation.”
“At least American racism is in your face. You know where you stand with your hood-wearing KKK, your skinheads, your police officers,” she says. “Our police officers in England are just as racist. The difference is our police officers aren’t allowed to carry guns, hence Black people don’t die in the same numbers.”
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