I recommend to new teachers that jokes are very tricky things in a classroom and should be used with caution. Jokes based on stereotypes of race and ethnicity and nationality are especially problematic to pull off without causing offense and should be avoided in the classroom, especially if the stereotype is a negative one. One informal rule is that in other settings, one can often get away with telling such jokes against one’s own group but not against that of other groups.
If I were an advisor to any politician I would tell them to steer clear of such jokes altogether. This seems to me to be so obvious that it baffles me when seasoned politicians like Hillary Clinton and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio decided to take part in a skit that included a joke based on a stereotype that black people are chronically late for things. The joke did not even have the mitigating quality of being funny.
Oddly enough that stereotype has long been the norm in Sri Lanka and people often excuse their late arrivals with the ‘Sri Lankan time’ gag. But while I feel comfortable talking about Sri Lankan time because I belong to that group, I would never use it for any other group.
Maybe de Blasio felt that he had some partial immunity because his wife is black but as he has now discovered, that kind of immunity is not transferable and he has had to explain himself by suggesting that the audience was humorless, while Clinton has thrown him under the bus.
I recall the time that actor Ted Danson spoke at a roast in honor of fellow actor Whoopi Goldberg . He arrived in blackface and used the n-word more than a dozen times in his monologue, and even ate watermelon. The only explanation that I can think for him giving such a cringe-inducing performance that horrified the audience was that since at the time he was Whoopi Goldberg’s lover and she had apparently encouraged his performance, he felt that gave him immunity. Big mistake.