Miller Lite launches comedy competition, but they should be more honest about it

By | May 2, 2012 at 12:48 pm | 21 comments | feature slider, News, Opinion | Tags: , ,

Miller Lite, today, announced the launch of It’s Miller Time– what the popular beer brand is describing as “a search for the best up-and-coming comedian in America.” And they’ve wisely enlisted one of the most powerful comedians today, Kevin Hart, to act as a special judge and to further promote the event. “Comedy is a universal language that connects people,” Hart said about the competition. “This is a great platform for up-and-coming comics and I am very happy to be a part of it.”

So, here’s the deal. Comedy fans can check out 24 pre-selected comedians from Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago and New Orleans at StandUpItsMillerTime.com, watch video clips of each and vote for their favorite until June 25, when voting ends. (Oh, and viewers will be able to vote from July 23 through Aug. 6 for a fifth comedian — a wild card — to advance to the finals). The four comics with the most votes in each city will perform in a live semi-final show in their hometown; the winners there will advance to the finals in Las Vegas. Tickets to the city showcases will be given away through local radio stations. The winning comedian at the Las Vegas show will snag $10,000 and will be featured in Complex, which is described as an “urban lifestyle” magazine.

Which started to make me believe Miller Lite is not searching for the best comedians in the country; they’re searching for the best black comedians in the country. As it turns out, all 24 contestants are black. And I think that’s great! But why can’t Miller Lite just come out and say what they’re doing? By not addressing it, the competition comes off as disingenuous– like they’re trying to get away with something. But they’re not. They’re doing nothing wrong. Honestly, it’s insulting to anyone visiting the contest site or to anyone reading the press release, where the only two clues that this is an all-black event is the mention of Complex and the presence of a quote from Miller Lite’s manager of African-American marketing, Lorence Pope, who also avoids the issue: “Comedy is a natural fit, so we’re excited to join with comic genius Kevin Hart to identify the next great stand-up comedian,” he says. “We are proud to provide a platform for aspiring comics through Stand Up. It’s Miller Time.”

Miller Lite is proud to provide a platform for “aspiring comics?” They’re trying to identify “the next great stand-up comedian?” They can’t honestly believe they’ve gathered a representative cross section of comedians working in the United States, which is what Pope’s quote and the rest of the press release strongly implies. Why not just say you’re trying to find talented, up and coming black comics and the next great black stand-up comedian of our time? Isn’t that something to be proud of? Embrace it.

About the Author

Dylan P. Gadino

Dylan is the founder and editor in chief of Laughspin. He launched Punchline Magazine in 2005 (which became Laughspin in the summer of 2011) with childhood friend Bill Bergmann. Dylan lives in northern New Jersey with his wife and two sons. He hopes the Shire is real.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alflamont Alf LaMont

    With Miller’s ability to target the campaign, do you think white folk would have even noticed the competition if you hadn’t discovered it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/carlosvalencia Carlos Valencia

    I thought the same thing when I first heard about the contest.

  • Guest

    But if it was all white comics, I doubt anyone would think it was odd

  • http://ChadRiden.com/ Chad Riden

    Also, NBC’s “Stand-Up For Diversity” contest should be called “Stand-Up For Everybody Except Whitey.” http://www.standupnbc.com/

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Noah-Odabashian/33500104 Noah Odabashian

      i wholeheartedly agree that so-called “white people” don’t get enough opportunities in America. I’d Stand Up for that!

      • http://ChadRiden.com/ Chad Riden

         From your lips to White Jesus’ ears.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=617459752 Josh Homer

      that would be true, except for the fact there is a white guy in the finals EVERY YEAR. 

      • http://ChadRiden.com/ Chad Riden

        I’m not upset, but I think it’s very interesting. New career goal: someday be the Token White Guy.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=617459752 Josh Homer

          you can just stick to the numerous late night spots for white guys. you’ll be ok. 

      • Jim L.

        Tone Bell won year before last. I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m saying you’re not right to the point of capitalizing “every year”. As a black comic who was in the competition I can unbiasly say that it did feel like they were looking for a black comic.

  • Steve

    Pretty lame Miller.  Just more dividing people.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Noah-Odabashian/33500104 Noah Odabashian

      yeah if I was going to see, like, a comedy competition and, like, the comedians were all black? I would be all, like, what is this, so divisive. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Noah-Odabashian/33500104 Noah Odabashian

    My favorite line is, “As it turns out, all 24 contestants are black. And I think that’s great! But…”

    I think the real issue here is that the competition is presented more broadly than it actually is. Had it been marketed more along the lines of  ”go to such and such site to vote for one of these up-and-coming comedies” than it would have been more true to form. The fact that they are all black is irrelevant. If the best comedian working were black would people have a favorite white comedian?

    “I just learned that all 24 contestants are gay. And I just want to make sure that people know that I think that’s great, nothing wrong with that. But…….. also i knew a gay guy once so i can say that…”  

    • CB

      Haha, I had a feeling what was coming when you listed the cities.

      So few lower-level stand-ups are black. In Austin it’s about 2-3%.

  • http://twitter.com/THE_REAL_JoshC Josh Carter

    what’s wrong with them getting 24 black comedians?  There are plenty of competitions that get all white comedians (CMT Next Big Comic).  

    • http://www.facebook.com/ComedianEricaWatson Erica Watson

      Yes!  most comedy competitions are looked specifically for white male comics….but they never come out and say it.   They may let a token black guy, and a female comic participate, but the winners are always white guys….or the new, non threatening “alt thug” black guy.  Yes, the black comic who does the white and alternative room and is cool, but only dates white women and would ot be caught dead in a “black room”…yep….sometime the competitions let them win….but not too often! lol (just jokes)

  • http://www.facebook.com/ComedianEricaWatson Erica Watson

    I think the real thing that is not being said is that only old black men drink Miller Lite. lol.  Honestly, they do not want to be obvious about the fact that the demographic that they are targeting with their beer campigns are BLACK……that’s the real issue.    Also, white male comics truly have ALL of the opportunities.  Please don;t get me started.  The reason competitions like this, and stand – up for diversity exists is because there is NO diversity in main stream comedy!  And trust me, stand-up diversity does not even usually pick black women anymore….it’s still all about men of color……so there is room for a lot more diversity!!!

    • Bjcleare

      I find it interesting when white males complain about unfairness…… dude do you not know the history of this crazy country? where blacks and women(of all races) had to fight for the right to get an education, vote and are still fighting for equal pay. Sorry I just don’t have it in me to feel sorry for you, stop whinning.

  • @SidneyWithAnI

    Wouldn’t it be a beautiful world if people could have the contests they want with the people they want on those contests, and people could make the shows they want with the people they want on them, and create a business and staff it how you like, all without people believing they have the right to feel alienated? Wouldn’t it also be a beautiful world if I learned how to ask shorter questions?

  • Guest

    yeah, black folks should have to warn people that they’re black just in case something happens or something or like.. in case some white guy happens to notice it and it’s like.. “damn, yo.. this is all black people and i notice it…”

  • Alvin

    Funny, I sat next to the winner of this competition on the way back home from Vegas. Dude had me cracking up whole way back.