That Time Jon Stewart Yelled “F*** Off” To Only Black Staff Writer For Objecting To Offensive Impression Of A Black Person
[guest post by Dana]
On a WTF with Marc Maron podcast, Wyatt Cenac talked about when he was the only black writer at the Daily Show and confronted John Stewart about what he saw as his offensive impression of then-GOP candidate Herman Cain. Cenac explained:
“I don’t think this [impression] is from a malicious place, but I think this is from a sort of naïve, kind of ignorant place,” he remembered thinking. “It’s like, ‘Oh no, you just did this and you weren’t thinking about it. It was just the voice that came into your head.’ And so it bugged me.”
The confrontation didn’t go too well:
Since Stewart had received heat from Fox News for doing a racially insensitive voice impression on-air, the host had planned to poke fun at the issue in another segment centered around the theme of “everything I do is racist,” until Cenac stepped in and told Stewart the entire bit frankly made him uncomfortable.
“I’ve got to be honest, when I heard it, it bothered me.” Cenac, who had watched Stewart’s news segment on Cain from his hotel room, remembered telling the “Daily Show” staff in an email. “I was the one black writer there. It was this thing where it’s like, when you’re the one — whether you want to or not — you’re speaking for everybody. I felt like I had to speak for all the minorities, because there’s nobody speaking for them.”
Cenac recalled voicing his reservations again at a writers meeting, which then got Stewart riled up. “I raised a concern, like, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ … He got incredibly defensive. I remember he was like, ‘What are you trying to say? There’s a tone in your voice.’ I was like, ‘There’s no tone. It bothered me.’ … And then he got upset. He stood up and he was just like, ‘F— off. I’m done with you.’ And he just started screaming that to me, and he screamed it a few times. … ‘F— off! I’m done with you.’ And he stormed out. I didn’t know if I had been fired.”
It must suck to find out you don’t really walk on water, and actually resemble the people you mock for a living.