A veteran comedy troupe tried the virtue signaling route following the rise of Black Lives Matter.
When that failed to solve racism in the Great White North, The Sketchersons took extreme measures. The long-running Canadian group canceled itself before the woke mob could do it for them.
The Toronto-based group shared the grim news on social media late last month. The post revealed why its initial embrace of BLM proved insufficient, and how it forced them to crunch the numbers on its diverse lineup.
Or lack of a diverse lineup, as they saw it.
That’s when the trouble began, according to its Facebook posting. Here’s part of the original BLM-themed statement shared last June.
In our sixteen year history, we’ve had 86 cast members. Only 10 of them have been BIPOC. Only 5 of those people have been Black. Our troupe has benefited from a system that was built upon white supremacy. The last few years we’ve made an effort to be more inclusive of queer and BIPOC voices, but it hasn’t been enough. We’ve dragged our feet, but recent events have forced us to make major changes within The Sketchersons, because Black Lives Matter.
The sketch comedy community is rigged to support the success of white people, and we are part of the problem. Currently, the two head writers and two producers are all white. We are ready to dismantle this system.
That message proved insufficient, apparently. On Jan. 25 the group shared the original June posting as well as a fresh message explaining how the troupe failed the community … again.
While writing the statement we contacted the current and former Black members of the troupe for input, but released it before we received feedback from everyone we reached out to. The white members of the group prioritized being a part of the BLM conversation over listening to Black voices; we were virtue signaling.
To be fair, that kind of self awareness is rare and refreshing.
Still, the group says it “rushed” the statement “during a traumatic time for the Black community … and we didn’t reflect on our own complicity in upholding white supremacy within the troupe. Our actions were insensitive and disrespectful, and we are sorry for the pain we caused.”
It seems the group’s current and previous members are primarily white, and therefore it “has not done the work to create a welcoming space for BIPOC.”
Toronto is currently locked down, like many major U.S. cities, due to the pandemic. Once the lockdown lifts, though, don’t expect The Sketcherson to immediately jump back on stage.
If/when the show returns, we will regroup and further explore how we can prioritize the voices, safety, and inclusion of marginalized people.
Canadian comic Danny Polishchuk, a frequent collaborator with Ryan Long, noted the troupe’s Facebook followers shredded their decision. The blowback proved so venomous The Sketchersons deleted comments they deemed either “offensive” or made “light of the situation.”
Still, a few snuck through the group’s filter.
Not to make light, but only 9% of Toronto is black. That means you’re only about 3 members short. Meanwhile, 25% of Toronto is Asian, meaning you are missing at least 17. Better get started.
(A 2018 survey backs up that 9 percent number…)
this is the whitest thing i have ever seen in my life
I’m confused -- do they intend this as a joke or are the for real?
The Sketchersons vow to start hiring based on race, a notion that Polishchuk deemed worse than ineffective on his “Punching Down” podcast.
“It’s not like some absolute travesty … what is this a f***king Klan rally,” Polishchuk said of the group’s previous lineups. “You should not be booking your sketch show based on people’s race. That’s racist. It’s insanity.”
“They literally think they’re white knights, no pun intended,” he added of the group’s woke sentiments.