Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The laughter seemed exceptionally forced

There is no truth that Matt Vasgersian's producer hides his eyes when he's on the air, the way people used to when Mitch Williams pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies. But they might want to:



Long story short, MLB Network had just shown Colorado outfielder Brad Hawpe being taken off the field after being struck in the neck by the ball while sliding into second base. Vasgersian, God love him, noticed one of the attending medical personnel was African-American and a bit on the stout side, so ...
Vasgersian: "Can you guys go back to that, uh, I thought I recognized somebody in that shot that I'd like to take another look when they were putting Ryan — I mean Brad Hawpe — on the cart there. Is that Donovan McNabb right there?"
Mitch Williams: "Dude!"
Vasgersian: "I thought he was on the field as an EMT."
Third MLB Network dude: "In Colorado?"
Eventually, everyone slips up since the on-air talent is under such pressure to be hip and edgy, but that probably wasn't the time for a joke about the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback.

It used to be taboo in the media to joke that two African-Americans looked alike, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside. It's not racist, it's definitely not a hanging offence. It's more like something Don Cherry once said to Ron MacLean, "A million comedians starvin' to death, and you're trying to be one!" Snark is for amateurs, indeed.

(Clip via Babes Love Baseball.)

9 comments:

Big V said...

I had to replay the video, because I was sure that the guy on the left was Carson Daily...

Dennis Prouse said...

Bad joke? Yes. Does it make him a stark raving racist, though? I don't think so. If the paramedic had flaming red hair, the joke probably would have been, "Hey, is that Danny Bonaduce?" A tough looking woman with a ponytail would have been Tonya Harding, etc. Due to the fact that a white man chose to talk about a black athlete, though, everyone's antenna goes up, and the joke falls flat. Poor timing by Vasgersian, to be sure, but not a hanging offense.

sager said...

Who said it made him a racist? It was poor timing and the guy didn't bear the slightest resemblance to Donovan McNabb.

It's like the Seinfeld when George gets in a tight spot for telling a superior at work he looked like the boxer, Sugar Ray Leonard. It's a little too close to the "they all look alike." Vasgersian might be the most open person of all time, but in this day and age, people (present company accepted) don't always read context and nuance very well, so you're best not to make that joke.

As a redhead, I can also say that I got called "Opie" enough times as a kid to know that wasn't funny, either.

Dennis Prouse said...

All good points, Neate. The fact that Vasgersian was trying to crack wise when a guy was hurt didn't help his cause either - there really are no appropriate jokes for, "guy being carted off field with painful looking neck injury." That goes double when the joke inadvertently drifts into the minefield of race relations.

I am sure most of us have heard a wedding MC tell an off-colour joke that fell flat. It was probably great in the bar or locker room, but it bombed in a mixed age and gender crowd. This is a good reminder that these guys need to be sportscasters first, and stand up comics second.

sager said...

It's definitely not a hanging offence. It's more like something Cherry once said to MacLean, "A million comedians starvin' to death, and you're trying to be one!"

kinger said...

Too bad the video isn't longer... after that awkward moment he breaks the silence by saying "Cocksucker! And I was doing so well."

sager said...

Aw, hamburgers!

Anonymous said...

Heeey Opie:

At least you now have matching craniums to go with good ol' Ronnie. (Howard, that is)

Seriously, is it not time for people to grow a skin? Doesn't matter what colour, just grow one. PC may be fine for the office, but for whispers, the Internet and reality no one really wants it.

sager said...

Hey, I didn't mind being called that. If people are content to be that unoriginal, fuck 'em.