Gina Yashere swears her material isn’t racist

Gina Yashere from Netflix comes to the Student Union Theatre. Her material touched upon topics of race and religion. (Brandon Barzola/The Daily Campus)

The second installment of the Student Union Stand Up Series started fifteen minutes late because headliner Gina Yashere was stuck in traffic.

After arriving on Wednesday night, Yashere engaged the audience with a series of raunchy comedic anecdotes delivered in a strong British accent with a lot of cuss words, earning herself laughter and applause.

“This is not going to be a politically correct show, people,” Yashere said at the beginning. Whether talking about race, the city of New York or the history of the English Church, Yashere swore openly and often took on different personas complete with voices and repetitive catchphrases, interacting with the audience throughout the show.

The first ten minutes of her show, Yashere spoke back and forth with audience members, building a rapport before getting into the swing of things. She asked students in the front row for their names and majors, and later in the show would turn back to them or pose other questions to the audience.

“She engaged with every single part of the show,” ninth-semester English major Austin Hill said.

Some of this engagement was with the ASL interpreters who took turns throughout the show. “If I say ‘dick’ will you catch it?” Yashere said. Several times she went through a string of rude words and swears, challenging the interpreters to keep up.

“My favorite part was the interaction with the interpreters,” Vales said. “I’d never seen a comedian do that before.”

A good portion of Yashere’s material did have racial content, which may have accounted for some of her self-prescribed “political incorrectness.”

“Any Chinese people in here? Good, let’s talk about them,” Yashere said, before launching into a discussion of all the coughing and spitting that happens in China, and “the way Asians poop.”

Yashere quickly addressed that specifically the white people in the room may feel uncomfortable with this. She explained that, for comedians, material is only racist towards a certain group of people if you would be unwilling to perform your material in front of that group. However, Yashere said she performed the same material in China, meaning she wasn’t racist.

“She was great at interacting with the audience and trying to make us comfortable with the political incorrectness,” third-semester pre-pharmacy student Becca Vales said.

Later in the show, Yashere spoke about why she thought white people were so uncomfortable with race discussion. According to Yashere, the biggest challenge to the black community isn’t the KKK, but everyday microaggressions. She shared several examples, like white people mistaking her for a server in a airport’s first class lounge or waiters always handing restaurant checks to her white girlfriend. In her mind, discussion of race between white people and people of color is important in solving these issues.

Yashere also spent a good deal of time explaining why “New York is f— gross.” She shared a number of anecdotes about this, talking about the rats that chewed through her car engine, the water bugs that took over her bathroom and the subway.

Yashere brought in other topics as well, giving a good deal of attention to the ways she and her friends have gotten verbal revenge on racist people, her Nigerian mother, the people she interacted with at her engineering job and the unfortunate backwards spelling of her full name (Regina).

While themes of race were prevalent, the interaction with the audience helped put the audience at ease, according to Vales and Hill.


Alex Houdeshell is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at alexandra.houdeshell@uconn.edu.