Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Jack Benny in 1938 - tells a racist joke?

On the Jack Benny Show, episode #312, 381127 Flash Benny, Football Star, Jack makes what seems like an ill-advised joke about a watermelon and Alabama. (Recall that in 1938, there were no black college football players, so the joke seems to be referring to the state of Alabama. In 1938 Alabama was certainly first or second in African-American population.)


  1. I think you are right about this joke being ill advised by Jack.

  2. I'm really not sure what else can be implied here.

    That's not to say I think Benny was a racist. After all, he's the one that gave Eddie "Rochester" Anderson his big break and made him a huge star.

    You can do a search in several magazines that tend to cater/have catered to the African-American population (such as JET, among others that are available via Google Books) and find that Jack Benny is looked upon highly by those magazines.)

  3. Often people say things and do not even think that it might offend someone. Sort of innocent, but, never the less offending.

  4. They grew a lot of watermelon in the south back then. It might be more regional that racial.


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