Charles Murray Interviews Black Guy From The Onion

Here`s Charles Murray taking Onion editor Baratunde Thurston`s “How to Be Black” quiz and having Thurston take Murray`s “How Thick Is Your Bubble?” quiz.

Thurston, by the way, is a graduate of Sidwell Friends and Harvard.

Here`s Murray`s complex way of scoring his quiz. (I think Murray`s first question is his worst: asking you to estimate what percentage of your adult neighbors had college degrees when you were a kid is too hard. Maybe Tom Wolfe or Edith Wharton kept track of that when they were ten, but I didn`t. But the quiz gets better.)

You can see what score I got in my American Conservative review of his book:

To illustrate the degree of social insulation that the people who read serious nonfiction books like Coming Apart have engineered for themselves, Murray has crafted an amusing survey on “How Thick Is Your Bubble?” Questions include “During the last month, have you voluntarily hung out with people who were smoking cigarettes?” “Since leaving school, have you ever worn a uniform,” and “During the last year, have you ever purchased domestic mass-market beer to stock your own fridge?” 

That last one stumped me since I buy Anheuser-Busch Natural Light, a cheap sub-mass-market product aimed at college kids—on campus, Natty Lights are known as “frat water”—and solitary imbibers who like their modest amount of alcohol without all that tiresome beer flavor. I emailed the author to learn how I should score my answer, but after a lengthy exchange, we concluded that anybody whose first reaction is to contact Charles Murray to discuss one’s taste (or lack thereof) in beer was kind of missing the point of his survey.

Read my whole thing there.

By the way, have you noticed how The Onion is seldom as funny about race as they are about other topics? It`s almost as if they were scared. In contrast, here are some videos from the new Comedy Central sketch comedy show Key & Peele, such as Key in Black Hawk Up, about how black people are not all that stoic about their fear of heights. Or Peele in Yo Mama Has Health Problems.

I saw Keegan-Michael Key at the Groundlings in West Hollywood in December in “The Black Version” where they take movies like Die Hard and improvise what a black version would look like. Key is extraordinary, although his range can detract from the basic appeal of “The Black Version” concept: for example, he decided to make Alan Rickman`s terrorist character into an evil French Canadian and riffed on French Canadianness at length with great inventiveness, although the audience would have preferred him to riff on African Americanness. (Both Key and Peele are middle class mulattos with white moms.)

By the way, mamas don`t let your babies grow up to be comedians. “The Black Version” is something of a hit in live improv in L.A., which means that about 95 people were in the audience for the Groundlings show with five fine veteran sketch comedians, a director, and three musicians, plus a lighting/sound guy. We paid $14 per ticket from Groupon (no drink minimum). You do the math.