Charles Knipp “Glad To Be Boogeyman”

We knew it was only a matter of time before controversial performer Charles Knipp spoke out against detractors who call his portrayal of black women racist. In case you haven’t been keeping up, Knipp’s made a name for himself as Shirley Q. Liquor: a “comedic” black face caricature chock full of negative stereotypes of black women. People weren’t laughing, to say the least.

Homo-journo Jasmyne Cannick helped lead the crusade against Knipp’s act, a move that led GLAAD to break its silence and issue a statement against Knipp – a statement many accused of being disingenuous, considering their silence on the Isaiah Washington shit storm. Of his particular shit storm, Knipp had this to say:

I don’t mind critics. I’m not scared of controversy…I’m so glad black and white folk, especially the gay community, are finally getting the REAL discussion started. I’m glad to be the ‘boogeyman’ if Americans of various races will finally speak TRUTH to each other. This politically correct shit has done nothing but silence the conversation that black and white Americans have needed to have for WAY too long now.

So, he’s sort of like John Amaechi. Only less black.

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  • James

    Ted Danson (he played in “Cheers” and dated Whoopi for a hot minute my younger queer brothers and sisters) said the same exact thing sometime back when he decided that black-face needed a renaissance.

  • Brandon

    Wow. He’s right. There needs to be an honest dialogue on race in America. Not talking about race in order to be polite has gotten us nowhere fast.

  • Jonathon

    I love you Queerty guys and visit the blog daily, but you really need to give this bashing of Charles Knipp a rest.

    To extend your logic, all drag queens must be misogynists because they wear “female face” (oftentimes comical) and are “caricature(s) chock full of negative stereotypes of … women.”

    If Knipp is a racist then I am straight. And I am queer as a three-dollar bill.

  • James


    I can’t speak for the Queerty bosses, but if you are white and perform in black-face then any bashing (intellectual of course) you get is well deserved.

  • Lamb Cannon

    No one said he was a racist. I believe the theme of the “attacks” was that he isn’t funny in the least, certainly not enough to justify his so-called “comedy” or his tired-ass use of blackface.

    So if this drag queen and its fans can’t handle it, too bad. And if this is what passes in the fag community as “honest racial dialogue” get a grip–it’s just lame in the extreme, and trying to gussy it up as social commentary is just too sad for even this blog.

    “Politically correct” by the way is right-wing code for “we want to go back to being tasteless idiots without being called down for it.” If you must go that route, vote Giuliani but don’t try to make yourselves out to be comedic pioneers in search of the truth cause you ain’t, “Charles Knipp,” you’re just another pottymouthed faggot with women’s clothes on.

  • Jonathon

    Guys, Shirley’s comedy *is* hilarious. If you have never heard any of her comedy or seen her performance then you are missing out. Maybe you wouldn’t find it funny, but at least you would be in a position to actually see/hear what Shirley is about.

    The “fuss” over Shirley has one root cause: Knipp’s is a white man.

    If Charles Knipp were a black man then it would all be different, right? His act wouldn’t be considered “racist”, right? He could perform as Shirley and no one would bat an eye, right?

    Get real people. If you are offended by Shirley Q. Liquor then I would really love to hear what you have to say about comedians in general. When Dave Chappelle dresses up as a white guy no one cried racism. When black comedians make fun of other blacks, no one cries racism – just listen to the “Kings of Comedy” or the “Queens of Comedy” – or any other performance of black comedians – and check out how much fellow blacks are lampooned. Watch an episode of “In Living Color” for godssake.

    Just damn, y’all.

  • maverick

    i think it’s so funny that people who say his comedy is funnay and not racist are probably not black.

  • James


    I will defend your right to find Shirley Q funny. Hopefully you will defend my right to find her black-face routine disgusting (and please notice I’ve said nothing about the jokes and everything about the make-up).


  • On The Runway

    Rupaul thinks Shirley B. Liquor is funny, so it is.

  • nystudman

    Can someone tell why Knipp’s a racist and Eddie Murphy isn’t? Or that “Madea” guy? ust wonderin’.

  • Jonathon

    John, of course you have a right to find anything offensive, even if it isn’t. You don’t need me or anyone else to defend your right to be offended.

    You call Knipp’s performance a “black-face routine”. It isn’t, but if you choose to feel that way then fine.

    My issue isn’t that people don’t like Shirley Q. Liquor. We all have our likes and dislikes. My issue is that people are making assumptions about Knipp, his act, his intentions, etc. and baselessly accusing him of racism and more.

    Before you accuse Knipp of racism or of wearing “blackface” you should learn more about him and about his character. You see a white man in black makeup; I see a performer creating a character, because I have listened to his performances and have read about his background and the origins of the Shirley character.

    I will say it again: The only reason there is any issue over the Shirley Q. Liquor character is because Knipp is a white man. As “nystudman” says, why is Knipp a racist but Eddie Murphy isn’t? Why is it OK for Tyler Perry to dress up as his character “Madea” but it isn’t OK for Knipp to dress up as Shirley?

    Everyone assumes that Knipp’s act is racist because he is a white man. Period. And that is just plain wrong.

  • Jonathon

    Here’s something else to chew on.

    Have any of you Shirley-haters seen “Mad TV”‘s very own Bobby Lee dressed up as Connie Chung? It’s a recurring theme on the show. He also does other female Asian characters. Is he a misogynist or a racist because he makes fun of Asian women?

    What about Alex Borstein’s character “Miss Swan”? Alex is female, but she’s not Asian. Yet she used almost every stereotype in the book when performing her character. Is she a racist?

    I challenge anyone to prove to me that Charles Knipp is racist or that his character Shirley is racist. Pointing out his makeup isn’t enough, y’all. Prove to me that Knipp is really just a card-carrying Klan member who hates blacks and uses Shirley to promote his anti-black bias. I double-dog dare ya!

  • MC

    It’s been said before – enough to put it to rest, I’d think: Do Not Use Dave Chapelle as an excuse to do blackface and ethnic jokes. The man turned down millions of dollars because he thought his work was crossing the line away from satire and into exploitation.

    Also, the idea that being “non-PC” is actually being progressive is bs. I talk – about race, gender, money, cock, whatever – just fine with friends of all colors. I don’t need this guy to “Get the conversation started.” In fact, I have a feeling that if he tried his black-mammy routine in front of my friends the conversation would come to a complete stand still.

    I find this act offensive. But he’s the kind of person I’d pretty much just ignore [along with Madea, btw]. But his arguments about why he’s helping us “speak the TRUTH?” This is not my Truth.

    This is not looking at the humor in our situation [see Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, South Park, most drag queens, etc.]. This is a white man making fun of blacks. It’s not satire. Here’s a simple difference, on the ground: I’ve been in a room full of gay men laughing hysterically at South Park’s nasty gay jokes. I’ve been in rooms of mostly black men laughing at their take on race in America. South Park is offensive *and* funny as hell. Now imagine this guy doing his act at a mostly black club, or in front of the NAACP, or on Oprah … it would make most of us squrim in embarassment to be witnessing it.

    For his defenders: instead of responding with sarcasm and ad reductam arguements, try engaging in the ‘dialogue’ you claim that this man is promoting.

  • Brandon

    Gay Black Man here or Black Gay Man depending on the day. I think jonathan has an excellent point. Jokes based on racial sterotypes are the root of much comedy. Period. We’ve all seen it and we’ve all laughed at it. Comedy is greatest when it has that satirical edge that makes us think about what we think about others–and ourselves. I bet most of the offended men commenting on this are not black anyways they are just trying to be progressive or worse politically correct. Blackface was more hurtful and offensive when it was the ONLY view the world saw of black people. These days, black people can represent themselves in the media–good or bad. No intelligent person believes that Knipp’s character represents ALL black women or even ANY black woman since it’s not a black woman at all but a white man’s rendition thereof. Laugh or don’t laugh, but for all we know Knipp is a ‘dinge’ queen.

  • James


    My name is James, not John. Second if you read my comments, I’ve never called Knipp a racist. I did say he was a white guy using black face, a mode of entertainment that has a dubious history. And I’m sorry but it is a black face routine. Third, thanks for the patronizing tone.”[James], of course you have a right to find anything offensive, even if it isn’t.” Beautiful and snide, but what can I expect from a gentleman who can only understand that his beloved Knipp is akin to Pryor and Murphy (which is a funnier line than anything that comes out of Knipp’s mouth).Finally spare me the racism charge. That is something you keep bringing up so maybe that’s all about you. I’ve laughed at white folk who poke fun at blacks and are much funnier than Knipp (Sarah Silverman, Robin Williams).


    Dinge queen? Dinge queen? Are you trying to be funny or offensive? And what does that have to do with the topic at hand?

  • el polacko

    .. so laurence olivier playing othello in dark-hued makeup was racist ?? gee.. ya learn something every day, don’t cha ?

  • Jonathon

    James, sorry I got your name wrong. Misread it.

    Any “patronizing tone” is in your own mind. My point is valid. You DO have a right to be offended by anything, even if it isn’t offensive to anyone else and you DON’T need me or anyone else to defend your right to be offended. Period.

    And, quite honestly, Charles Knipp is a hell of a lot funnier than Pryor or Murphy – who both made good use of homophobia as a platform for their humor, by the way. But as with most things, it is in the eye of the beholder.

    And I have no idea what a “dinge queen” is either.

  • James


    Just like I have the right to find a white guy in black-face a bit odd, you have the right to find Knipp funnier than either Pryor or Murphy, a line I’m thinking even Knipp himself would find strange. Now that says a whole lot to me about your sense of humor, or lack thereof, but hey I’m a small d democrat so it’s all cool. As for homophobia, do you even know anything about Pryor’s early stuff where he talked about sucking dick and liking it? So that charge really does not stick.

    peace to all you Knipp lovers

  • joey

    just like somebody else said…myself and my acquaintances don’t need Shirley to talk about race. we use her as comedic relief, not a social liberator. i find her hilarious but i think its great if you don’t.

  • Jennifer

    Not blackface, eh? Knipp isn’t much lighter than my mother, who is a (real) black woman. I’m sure she would’ve been more than happy to loan Knipp her Tawny Wheat base. Yet this bigot (yup, I said it) decides to go onstage wearing makeup that is too dark for even me. I’m sure that was just a coincidence, though.

    You’re right in that it would be different if Knipp was black. If he was black, he wouldn’t have an act.

  • Tamara

    For the record, as a black woman, I find even Eddie Murphy and Tyler Perry to be sexist as well as perpetuating horrible stereotypes….and I’m not about to let this mofo slide just because he’s gay.

Comments are closed.