Ethnic humour has kind of undergone an evolution in the past few decades. Timewas, people from the dominant Anglo-Saxon class used to joke about the stereotypical foibles and perceived failings of "lesser" ethnic groups -- the Irish, French, Scottish, Ukrainian, East Indian, African-American, Polish, Italian, Jewish, you name it.
That type of humour still circulates, but in more of an underground way via the Internet and whatnot. It's hard to envision a white comic doing a routine these days where people from visible minority communities are the butt of his/her jokes.
But as Canada becomes increasingly multi-cultural, a new generation of comics has arisen who don't shy away from ethnic humour. The key difference is that the communities they're poking fun at are generally their own. Through their humour, do they reinforce hoary old stereotypes? Or subtley undermine them, exposing the systemic racism that is still rampant in our society? That's a question I'm not qualified to answer.
You'll get a sense of what I'm talking about with this show at Conexus Arts Centre tonight. It features comics Danny Bhoy, Godfrey, Tommy Tiernan and Pete Correale, and is hosted by Indo-Canadian sensation Sugar Sammy. To prime your funnybone for further tickling, here's a short clip from one of Sammy's routines. (YouTube)