Mark Kendall's 'Magic Negro' Dismantles All The Tropes | WABE 90.1 FM

Mark Kendall's 'Magic Negro' Dismantles All The Tropes

Apr 10, 2017

After its premiere in 2014, Dad's Garage improviser Mark Kendall took his one-man show on the road. Now, it is on stage at the Alliance Theatre.

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After three years, Mark has had to update some of the content to keep the comedy timely.

One thing he's had to update is the title of the show. Now, it's called "The Magic Negro and other Blackity Blackness, as told by an African-American Man who also happens to be Black." Initially, the title was prefaced with "Morgan Freeman Presents.”

Then, he got a cease and desist notice.

“I got an email from Morgan Freeman’s people saying, you can’t use that title,” he laughed in an interview with Lois Reitzes. He said he added the “other Blackity Blackness, as told by an African-American Man who also happens to be Black” part of the title to make it clear to audiences that his show is a comedy, even though it deals with complex issues.

Primarily, the show focuses on the wrong and incomplete representation of African-Americans in the media. For one, the Magic Negro is a trope identified by Spike Lee, where a wise and elderly black man appears out of nowhere and helps the white (and usually male) protagonist accomplishes his goals.

“There are some images and stereotypes, where it’s pretty easy to look at it and and say, oh that is harmful,” said Kendall. “What the show tries to do is look at all kinds of things we may not see as bad or negative and show why they don’t show the fullest portrayal of a character, how it still simplifies people and puts them in boxes.”

"The Magic Negro and other Blackity Blackness, as told by an African-American Man who also happens to be Black" is onstage at the Alliance Theatre through this Sunday.