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Cowboys and Indians: Black Man in the White House

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

Sometimes you take a punt on a free show and it pays dividends, and sometimes, well, you stumble across something like Cowboys and Indians, in which Craig Ricci Shaynak performs as Texas border patrol agent George WWIII.

The character’s a racist redneck, fat on a ‘featuring in a documentary’ scale with a brain to match. But Shaynak struggles to do anything with the character other than hollering at the audience and spouting offensive ideas.

The loudness comes in handy at a midnight show, and he is good with the crowd, but you need to do more with a prejudiced asshole than have him complain about lazy Mexicans and trust the audience will know it’s an irony-laced joke simply because you are a character. Of course, there’s no suggestion that Shaynak believes the things the exaggerated pantomime creation believes, but where’s the wit in simply repeating racism. Wearing a hat when you say it doesn’t make it less horrible.

The most awkward section comes when he explains that the black man is subservient to the white man – and that Barack Obama is a field nigger who got promoted to a house nigger, and now he’s the White House nigger. If you can see humour in those words, you might want to take a long hard look at yourself. Even after he said it Shaynak suggested he wouldn’t do it again, one of several times he makes a comment about how his jokes weren’t as funny as he’d hoped.

Confusing native American Indians with people from the sub-continent (who inevitably work in call centres in his world) is about as sophisticated as the comedy gets. George WWIII isn’t the only character, either, as we get introduced to one of these Asian Indians, who teaches us how to talk American, an excuse for Shaynak to do the accent. Oh yes. And the joke about talking American involves putting ‘…in the shizzle’ (shouldn’t it be ‘fo shizzle’?) on the end of everything.

Unpleasant and unfunny.

Review date: 21 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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