Humor is hard

Organizers of the Republican Leadership Conference probably thought it’d be fun to have a President Obama impersonator bring some levity to their event. Now they know better.

The impersonator, Reggie Brown of Chicago, opened his act by joking about Mr. Obama’s family history, referring to his white mother from Kansas and his black father from Kenya. He said that he was born in Hawaii, adding, “or as the Tea Partiers like to call it, Kenya.”

He said that Michelle Obama, the first lady, enjoys celebrating all of February, Black History Month. He said the president celebrates only half the month.

“My mother loved a black man and, no, she was not a Kardashian,” Mr. Brown said later, referring to the family that stars in reality shows. Khloe Kardashian, who is white, is married to Lamar Odom, who is black and plays for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The audience, which was nearly entirely white, watched with befuddlement as the impersonator told them to look into the future to see what the Obamas will look like when they are retired. An image of a feuding husband and wife, from the TV show “Sanford and Son,” was flashed on screens in the ballroom.

The impersonator didn’t just target the First Family. The fake Obama also took pot shots at the leading Republican presidential candidates and Anthony Weiner. By the time he took aim at Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), event organizers decided they’d seen enough. Music started playing, the impersonator’s microphone was cut off, and a GOP official escorted the man from the stage, well before the end of his not-at-all-funny act.

While the entire performance was obviously a mistake, it was the racially-tinged remarks that linger.

Republican strategist, Doug Heye, the former RNC communications director, noted after the event, “Wonder why many minorities have problems with GOP? Hiring Obama impersonator to tell ‘black jokes’ at SRLC, for starters. Our own fault.”

“For starters” seems like the key phrase there. The problem isn’t just the ugly jokes — and the fact that the audience laughed at them –but this certainly doesn’t help.