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.