You Can’t Trust the Internet

king billy cokebottle

You will recall how in the previous post (“Aboriginal Wisdom and Wit”, which I wrote yesterday), I mentioned that the World Wide Web is “an amazing resource of information (and sometimes a dash of misinformation)”. Little did I think that I would so soon be confessing to being the source of some of that misinformation!

It was like this. Someone drew my attention to a couple of YouTube audio clips by one King Billy Cokebottle, in particular one about a goat and another about a mud crab. I listened to them, and found them very funny. King Billy (presumably) is depicted in the header (see picture above), and is obviously aboriginal. A mention of King Billy’s jokes thus fitted in very nicely with the other two web sites about matters aboriginal which I mentioned in the post. It provided the aboriginal “wit” to go with the “wisdom”.

Today I was informed that King Billy is a white Aussie comedian called Louis Beers who impersonates an aborigine. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Billy_Cokebottle . So I hereby apologise for misleading my readers in this way.

For me, this knowledge doesn’t make his stories any less amusing. However, it does raise an interesting issue. Beers has had some of his performances cancelled because people raised objections to his “racist” presentation. I’ve never seen him perform, and I appreciate that you probably haven’t either, but do you think you would find his performance offensive, simply because he did it in “blackface”? (I gather some of his material is quite “blue”, but I’m not talking about that.)

There is a long tradition of blackface performances. Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor both did blackface routines, and The Black and White Minstrel Show, although popular, raised objections on the grounds of racial stereotyping. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the issue.

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About dazzlerplus

Writing about the things that interest me helps me to discover what I think. One of my loves is the Australian Outback, and I travel out there often, and when possible take friends with me.
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4 Responses to You Can’t Trust the Internet

  1. roobark says:

    I think with heightened public awareness these days comedians can’t afford to present themselves as someone of another race. The risk of being accused of stereotyping is too great, probably because that is, in part, what happens. I think the story of the goat being tied to a railway sleeper is less funny now that I know the comedian was an impersonator. It’s as if he is trading off the aboriginal sense of humour, even if that humour is awfully close to common Australian country humour.

  2. Jo says:

    I’m not sure what to think about the King Billy joke. I have heard the story told many times (usually around a campfire) and have to say this is a good rendition. Is it any worse than someone using an Irish accent to tell an Irish joke? Or is it like family humour where siblings can make jokes about one another but will beat up anyone else who makes a joke at their siblings expense?

  3. shane says:

    the death of the Australian sense of humour was political correctness years ago I worked with shearers,truckles and steel workers black and white and the aboriginal s laughed just as hard at the likes of king billy as the rest of us.

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