With the rise of the latter we risk losing the former. Many comedians no longer perform at college campuses because campuses in America have turned into humorless dens of fascism with “speech codes,” “safe spaces,” “trigger warnings” and “microaggressions” – anti-intellectual devices designed to suppress expression and thought.
In the words of the American poet Charles Bukowski, “beware those who are quick to censor, they are afraid of what they do not know.”
Racial humor has always been a touchstone of comedy, and if that ceases to be then the world will be less funny and diverse peoples will become more and more alienated from each other.
Countless comedians have based their entire oeuvre on their ethnicity, from Mel Brooks to Margaret Cho, Paul Rodriguez to Chris Rock. Comedians, like Don Rickles, who use crass racial humor in a positive light as a means to bring people together, are often misunderstood and shunned by the ignorant and the self-righteous.
This translates to music. Artists from Louis Jordan to Louis Prima created humorous songs by playing up ethnic idiosyncrasies and stereotypes.
So this holiday season, here are a few of my favorite racist, culturally appropriated Christmas songs.
Trigger Warning: some of these records may induce joy and cause one to laugh at oneself. In severe cases, they may allow an appreciation of others’ experiences and cause one to recognize elements of those experiences in their own.
“¿Dónde Está Santa Claus?” – Augie Rios
Augie Rios was a child theater actor born in New York City to Puerto Rican immigrants. In 1958, at the time of this record, he was appearing in Jamacia alongside Lena Horn, Ricardo Montalban and Ossie Davis. “¿Dónde Está Santa Claus?” is credited to Rod Parker, Al Greiner and Rios’ manager at the time, George Scheck. Considering the flip side, “Ol’ Fatso (I Don’t Care Who You Are Old Fatso, Get Those Reindeer Off My Roof),” this 45 should come with a double trigger warning. “¿Dónde Está Santa Claus?” remains a holiday staple in many Latino-American homes.