KFC Part 2-Dances With Chickens: One Actor’s Story…

Aight so, you know how I feel about this whole dancin with chicken bullshit…

and I also realize that it’s hard to get work as a Black actor…

I also realize that TV money is good….REAL GOOD…

I just found out that talented comedian/tv personality Joe Clair has appeared in the Kentucky GRILLED Chicken spots…

Below is his account, which appears on hiphopdx.com:

http://allhiphop.com/stories/editorial/archive/2009/03/27/21290454.aspx

Joe Clair: That Funky Chicken

Published Friday, March 27, 2009 3:05 PM
By Joe Clair
THE FUNKY CHICKEN!

(an excerpt from the black man’s guide to surviving in Hollywood)

“like all my brothers eat chicken and watermelon/talk broken English and drug sellin’.”

KRS-ONE

Ok soooo…

Today I shot a commercial for a restaurant. I won’t mention the name but they make chicken. When I went on the audition a couple of weeks ago, I heard that little voice in the back of my head mention somethin’ about black men and chicken and stereotype, but I ignored it ‘cause my mind was blissful with the thought of something else. See, I was getting back to work. I love workin’. It makes me feel good to make some dough. This particular morning I was rushing into the commercial audition all joyous and happy. Things are pretty good in my life at the time. I’m a new husband and things are going well. I’m getting’ funnier and funnier on the mic. I had a little extra dough in my pocket. I was happy, and grateful to have the opportunity. In my joyous state I never thought past what I was doing at the moment.

What does this have to do with today?

Tell you in a minute. Just follow me for a second.

Soooo….

I go into the audition, which is a weird process that I’ll have to write about another time, and do my thing and I’m out. I got a session across town after that then I gotta get some work done in my office. I’m good. Fast forward a week, and I get a call from my agency telling me that I have a call back for the chicken people. When I heard my agent say chicken, the little voice came back, but this time it was singin’ “Mammie” and shuckin’ and jivin’. I still ain’t really listen to it though, I was happy I had done something right and gotten the call back. Feels good.

So I go to the callback and do my thing. This time I have to eat the chicken and then say the line. When I bit the chicken the little voice screamed at me “Obama!” but I was eatin’ and paying attention to the chicken and then Dave Chappelle from Inside the Actors Studio popped up and said, “You gotta set your price. And don’t take nothing less” or somethin’ like that, all echo-y and movie like. Too late, I was deep in it by now. The chicken was all hot and good. I was lovin’ my job.

Now, I guess I could have had a movie style “I can’t do this” moment and walked out of the audition but I didn’t. I ate the juicy ass drumstick and delivered the line like a pro. They said thank you and my agent called and told me I had booked later that day. It felt good. Gold star for Joseph!

What happened next n***a?

I’m getting’ to it.

Soooo…

Today I arrived on set at the designated time. This was a big production. They had a huge soundstage rigged to look like were just standin’ in whiteness like on those MAC computer commercials. They had tents and shit set up. They had a bunch of big white trucks that you see on big shoots. A couple of campers/trailers for wardrobe, hair/make-up and production. It was big.

My call time was right before lunch so I got to eat even before I worked. Food was off the chain. (it wasn’t chicken) When I got there an actor that I had bumped into from time to time in auditions was there, so I was kickin’ it with him ‘til I had to go on set. He had already worked and was asked to stick around in case thy needed something else. So while we were out there, a celebrity chef shows up ‘cause he’s in the spot too, playing himself. He has a person working with him, who’s a sister and all of us sit, talk shit and eat lunch together ’til it’s time to work. There was only one other black person on set but she was workin’ and ain’t eat. Anyway, the chef asked my man what we had to do when we get on set and he described what I had done in the audition and then he goes, “and then he ask you to act like a chicken and you gotta do a dance. A chicken dance with the chicken in your hand.” As he said those words a wave of disbelief permeated our little black contingent. It was like an urban legend come to life. Being asked to dance is already a bad one but being asked to dance with chicken is like go get another profession type shit when it happens. It’s the worst look of all. There is nothing sexy about being asked to dance with chicken in your hands in 2009. For a black actor it is the worst. The chef said “What?!” My man goes “Chicken dance brother.” The chef and me was like “you playin’. Man get the fuck outta here. Foreal?!”

Now the chef is a celebrity chef, that they asked to do the spot, so I knew he wasn’t gonna have to do it. But I was the willing slave ass actor, soooooo happy to have the opportunity, soooooo ready to get to work, just sooooooo muhfuckin’ joyous and full of glee and I knew they was gonna get my black ass to do it. The little voice came back with a couple of beads of sweat. The little voice said “ Do the chicken dance BITCH!” like the world’s greatest heckler. It started laughin’ at me and clowin’ me like I was havin a comedy club nightmare!…“Do the muthafuckin’ chicken dance.. N***A!!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh haaaaaaaaa haaaaaaaaa haahahahah ahhhhaaaahha ahahahhah. CHICKEN DANCE BITCH! DO THE CHICKEN DANCE BITCH! AAAAHHHH HAHAH HAHAHAHAH HAHAHAHA AHAHAHA HAHAH…….. FUNKY CHICKEN N***A!!!!!!”

I was snapped back into reality when the actor dude said “ yeah, I felt bad, but shiiittt a brother got a mortgage to pay.” Right then I made the little voice shut the fuck up. Those words brought it home. I got a mortgage to pay as well along with all kinds of other bills and shit that take a lot of work to maintain. So I’m like fuck it. It is what it is. I need to eat and I ain’t in a position to be throwin’ no money away. Fuck dat. Chicken dance it is. Ain’t this some shit.

Soooooooo.

I finally get on set, after getting’ bumped by the chef, to do my thing. It’s people all over the place doin what they do on set. Most of the people are white, most of ‘em are cool and speak to you , especially like the lighting dudes and the camera operators they crack jokes and make it a cool atmosphere. The people from the company and the ad agency however, are usually reserved and don’t say anything to you. You’re just another actor here to do the shoot. Anyway, I eat the chicken and say the lines and do that a bunch of times. They got a dude that gives me a new piece of chicken after every take. I say the line, take a bite, chew, spit it out , and get a new piece of chicken. There’s another lady that comes and wipes my mouth after each take while they switch up the chicken. It’s ill cause they are like older white people and it’s just, very surreal that I am eating chicken and a room full of white folks is there makin’ sure I do it right. Ill.

Did you dance n***a? !

See what had happened was……

After a long pause in production the director comes back and says “O.K. so now I want you to act like a chicken.” N***a, a chill ran down my spine. I know he ain’t mean nothin’ by it. He’s just doin’ his job. Plus they had been shooting for days and at least twenty or thirty actors done had to do it. So I’m like, “Cool. I’m an actor and this is a gig”. He gives me a few more directions and yells action. I act like a chicken. I tried to get real loose with it but just couldn’t. I did a good enough job though that it gotta a couple of laughs. He yells cut. Then he goes “ OK now I want you to dance with the chicken in your hands and eat while you dance.” Now I like to think that I saw a bit of embarrassment shoot across his face as he said it. That good old-fashioned white guy emabarrased by the race thing look they get in the movies and shit. Like he know he wrong to ask a black man to dance with some chicken but he got to get this done. I looked around the room and it was all eyes on me. And it looked like they probably said “the black guy gonna dance his ass off” before I got there. At that moment I wondered if they pictured me dancin’ while I was at the audition two weeks ago? “Fuck you gonna do?” I thought to myself as they readied the chicken for my consumption. The mortgage, the office rent, the other crib in Cali, cable bill, phone bill, insurance, car notes trickled through my brain. Simultaneously Morgan State, Red Black and Green, Huey P. Newton, Sojourner Truth, Orange Juice Jones, Queen Latifah, Nat Turner, Larry Davis, Birnie Mac and GhostFace Killah hit their mark as well. “What is I’m gonna do?”, I thought. “We gotta a black president and I’m dancin’ with chicken fo’ my pay”, I said to myself and the thought gave me a shiver. On cue, like a Wayans Brothers movie or some shit, this music comes from outta nowhere. They played a fucked up’90s remix of “Do The Funky Chicken”. I’m like “Aww Dayumm!”. I mean this was some ill shit. “What would Stark’s do in this situation?”, I thought. The director yells action and I gave the performance of a lifetime. My scene sucked, but the acting job I did of being delighted to do this was phenomenal. I didn’t get down with the song or nothin’. I t wasn’t a Jabberwockies moment but I did good enough, like a cool uncle at a cookout with a plate. I have a hard time hiding my emotions so I can’t wait to see what my face looks like.

You did the chicken dance n***a?

Yep. I did the fuckin’ chicken dance ladies and gentlemen. I like to think that it was God getting me back for clownin’ this dude at the comedy club the other night. Or maybe it was just my “Mammie” moment that almost all black actor/comedians have. I don’t know. I do know it was a funky ass situation that I never envisioned myself being in. But it is what it is. I’m gonna take the money from that jo’nt and ball out somehow. I owe it to myself….. But then again, I could be like the millions of people who have lost their jobs in the past year or so and be home watchin’ the n***a who ate the chicken, so maybe I should consider myself lucky and fortunate.

Holla back and tell me what you think.

Cleez

P.S. This editorial was written by pride. Pride has a valid point but, pride will leave a yo’ ass hungry as hell. So although pride wrote it humble is gonna live with it. As you can see folks, this thing has my mind messed up and goin’ every which way.

**********

Aight, Joe… we get it…

it’s hard out here for Black actors, gotta pay the bills, yaddayaddayadda…

Two words for you, Joe….cuz I respect you, man…you seem like a real solid brother…

FUCK THAT…

Dog, fuck that shit…

UNTIL Black actors stand up for themselves, Hollywood will continue to portray Black people how they feel like it….

and Im sick of that same excuse from EVERYBODY Black in the entertainment field….

“oh, I gotta eat…”

its work at the post office…

and we WONDER why:

-we dont have any power in the entertainment business

-our music is fucked up

-Black actors have to scrounge for work

its because we dont DO FOR SELF…

you can’t serve Massa and rise up at the same time, its not possible…

Hey, I work everyday…so Im not saying this from someplace on high…

Black folks talk about strugglin….but we dont care abt THE struggle….

We will struggle all day long as long as it is forced upon us…but when there’s a struggle that’s worth fighting that will benefit us in the end, we dont know anything abt that….

the struggles that our people face to get us here where we can have a Black president were fought willingly…..those people made the choice to tell The Man, “enough is enough”….

and because they had that courage, we reaped the benefits….

but I guess reaping the benefits of that struggle has softened us to the point that we’ll dance for chicken in 2009….and we dont have th courage like our the generation before us (the 60’s wasnt that long ago, yall) to say to The Man enough is enough…

Back then, they had dogs, hoses, and guns pointed at us….

now, its just a camera…

Sorry, Joe…I dont accept your weak ass excuses….the shame you feel is justified…you SHOULD be ashamed of yourself for disgracing Black folks….

I hope the money covers your expenses for while…but I also hope that your kids, your parents, and all of your ancestors who suffered horrible indignities see you dancing with chicken in 2009…


But you got your bills paid…Aint that the same thing prostitutes tell themselves?

Whatever gets you through the night, I guess…

“Don’t be eyein’ my bucket…”

Don’t worry, Joe…you earned it, it’s ALL yours…

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