I’d Rather We Got Casinos: And Other Black Thoughts by Larry Wilmore
I’ve been a fan of Larry Wilmore ever since his opinion on The Princess of the Frog was shown on the Daily Show three years ago. It always makes my day when he shows up on the Daily Show. Something about his wry contempt for the stupidity around him and his particular brand of racial satire just makes me laugh so much.
I’d Rather We Got Casinos: And Other Black Thoughts is a fictitious collection of writings, radio transcripts, and letters from Wilmore’s career, as collected by the equally fictitious Professor Elister Morrison Lawrence. Wilmore covers topics from why black people don’t see UFOs to his repeated attempts to ask the NAACP to change the term “African-American” to “chocolate”.
Wilmore has been sharpening his racial satire for years, and I’d Rather We Got Casinos is just as hilarious as I’d hoped. I laughed out loud at several points, chief among them being his lament that “Afro-American” was a perfect term to replace “African-American”, but since the next term was black and the “once you go black” rule was in effect, they couldn’t use it again. The fake radio show transcripts are equally inspired, the best one being Larry’s interview with the Man himself, who reveals his methods of keeping black people down. However, the best are his repeated letters to the NAACP, with his increasing desperateness to have them change to “chocolate” (They wouldn’t even have to change their initials, Wilmore thoughtfully points out). Even the lesser material is quite funny, although the back to back essays explaining why fat, black weathermen make him both happy and sad can feel a little off and definitely repetitive.
The essays are peppered with “random black thoughts”, which are just one-liners that didn’t fit anywhere else. There are only four of these, and I feel like they could either be eliminated with no problem (although the sudoku one made me giggle) or expanded upon to buffer each piece of writing. The frame story can get a little ‘eh’ after a while, but it can also work wonderfully, like in Wilmore’s attempts to defend the “n” word in court.
I find most comedic writing collections to be quite short, and I’d Rather We Got Casinos is no exception–I read it in a day, between class, gym, and sleep. The good thing is that Wilmore’s writing leaves you wanting more. I hope that at some point we get a fully fledged collection from him, with longer essays, more random thoughts, and maybe without the frame story, funny as it is.
I do have to point out that the first essay is censored, although none of the others are. It might just be a typographical error, if the book was originally intended to be censored, but it just felt weird enough to mention.
Bottom line: While it’s certainly short, Larry Wilmore’s I’d Rather We Got Casinos absolutely delivers–plenty of wry and occasionally laugh out loud racial satire in the age of Obama.
I rented this book from the public library.