By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]
Comedians are the windows into the soul of society. They make audiences laugh at issues and events that are troubling and today they seem to have as much credibility as any of America’s newscasters.
Comedy Central Central’s Trevor Noah and HBO’s Bill Maher are pundits who are trusted more by the new generation of voters that will decide the next presidential election. Noah’s predecessor, John Stewart, testified on Capitol Hill on behalf of New York City’s first responders to be compensated for proper healthcare in the aftermath of issues that began on 9/11.
Larry Lancaster made his name as BET’s Man on the Street and is known for his political commentary and wittiness on issues related to race, culture and class. Lancaster doesn’t consider himself an expert on politics nor a social activist. He is, however, in touch with new voters and recognizes the levity he can bring to the nation’s political discourse. So when President Donald J. Trump made his disparaging remarks about Baltimore and Congressman Elijah Cummings, Lancaster called him out in basic, unapologetic terms that connect with the next generation of voters.
I know Rep. Elijah Cummings to be an honorable man and a true fighter,” Lancaster told the AFRO. “But if we’re really honest there are a lot of rats in Baltimore, just like there are in New York where his Trump Towers is. If you’re the President of the United States you can’t be making statements like that.”
Lancaster uses a thought provoking unique blend of humor that appeals to a diverse audience. In an era of highly charged polarizing political commentary his simplified political material is enlightening, but delivered in a style that plays to baby boomers and millennials as well. However, when it comes to political material, the President’s behavior is hitting a nerve with his audience.
“When Donald Trump says [stuff] like [his said on Baltimore] he’s using it as a smoke screen to dominate the news cycle and take away from things like the Mueller report, collusion or things of that nature,” Lancaster told the AFRO. ”His behavior doesn’t represent the office that he holds.”
Lancaster is one of the most dynamic young personalities who thinks comedians are in a great position to connect them with the political process in order to engage younger voters. He uses quick wit and improvisational skills that feature fast paced humor and poignant social commentary.
“You’ve got to break it down and make it easier for people to understand,” Lancaster said. “When people are engaged they are down to be a part of the process.”
He has been influenced by some of the all-time great comedians. Despite a dubious fall from grace, Lancaster respects the professorial aspects of Bill Cosby’s material. The cutting edge comedy of the late Bernie Mac and Robin Harris can also be heard as part of his routine. However, Larry knew he had he could make it once he was endorsed by Paul Mooney
“You good,” Lancaster remembers. “That’s all I needed to hear and I knew I could make it in this game.”