Bourbon Cowboy

The adventures of an urbane bar-hopping transplant to New York.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I'm a storyteller in the New York area who is a regular on NPR's "This American Life" and at shows around the city. Moved to New York in 2006 and am working on selling a memoir of my years as a greeting card writer, and (as a personal, noncommercial obsession) a nonfiction book called "How to Love God Without Being a Jerk." My agent is Adam Chromy at Artists and Artisans. If you came here after hearing about my book on "This American Life" and Googling my name, the "How to Love God" book itself isn't in print yet, and may not even see print in its current form (I'm focusing on humorous memoir), but here's a sample I've posted in case you're curious anyway: Sample How To Love God Introduction, Pt. 1 of 3. Or just look through the archives for September 18, 2007.) The book you should be expecting is the greeting card book, about which more information is pending. Keep checking back!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Black Nerds: A More or Less Complete List

I was watching "30 Rock" last night (great show---and yet another sitcom that suggests we may be seeing the death knell of the laugh track, thank God!) and an uptight black person---one of the writers---complains that they lack a "samovar of coffee." And one of the other characters says, "Are there other black nerds, or is it just you and Urkel?"

As you know, I posted about this issue a few months back, and I was thrilled to be able to add this character (Toofer, played by Keith Powell) to my list. (Side note: I met a woman in Kansas City who told me she met Colin Powell at a show that Colin Powell's daughter was performing in. How many black Powell actors are there?) Here is the official accounting, thanks to friends like T. McAy, Toonhead!, Maelstrom, and other folks I'm probably missing. I suck at tables and fancy graphics, so this is going to be a little primitive:

BLACK NERDS IN POP CULTURE

Steve Urkel
"Family Matters"
Genre: TV sitcom
Actor: Jaleel White

Carlton Banks
"The Fresh Prince of Bel Air"
Genre: TV sitcom
Actor: Alfonso Ribiero

Geordi LaForge
"Star Trek: The Next Generation"
Genre: TV sci-fi drama
Actor: LeVar Burton

Tuvok
Star Trek: Voyager
Genre: TV sci-fi drama
Actor: Tim Russ

Toofer
"30 Rock"
Genre: TV sitcom
Actor: Keith Powell

Burton “Gus” Guster
"Psych"
Genre: TV comedy/drama
Actor: Dule Hill

Franklin
"Peanuts"
Genre: comic strip

Oliver Wendell Jones
"Bloom County"
Genre: comic strip

Lamar Lattrell
Revenge of the Nerds
Genre: film
Actor: Larry B. Scott

Jiff Ramsey
Bowfinger
Genre: film
Actor: Eddie Murphy

Raj Thomas
"What’s Happenin!"
Genre: TV sitcom
Actor: Ernest Thomas

Eugene
"The New Archies" (1987)
Genre: animated cartoon
Voice Actor: Colin Waterman

Stevie Kenarban
"Malcolm in the Middle"
Genre: TV sitcom
Actor: Craig Lamar Traylor

Tony Sinclair
Genre: Tanqueray commercials
Actor: Rodney Mason

I know I'm missing some people: There have been black nerds in every major African-American sitcom I can think of, and I remember at least one minor character in the movie House Party who wanted embarrassed himself by wanting to watch Breakin' 2. But bear in mind that I'm interested mostly in fictional representations of black nerds, so this leaves out real-life black nerds like Condoleezza Rice, Bryant Gumbel, Wayne Brady, or Darryl Dickson-Carr (haven't heard of him? He's the best professor I've ever had and he just wrote an award-winning book, so I'm just writing his name down now so I don't have to update later).

And may I point out that, so far in my research, I have not found, on IMDB, the name of a single person who voiced Franklin in any of the Charlie Brown TV specials. “The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show” (1983) even had regular appearances from Rerun Van Pelt! But not Franklin. Empty your inhalers on the ground in memory of our unseen fellow homey.

NOTE: An earlier version of this post shamefully neglected to include Carlton on "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air." Bourbon Cowboy regrets the error.

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2 Comments:

Blogger tmcay said...

When looking at your list, I remembered the "Homer Goes to College" episode of "The Simpsons" in which Homer shares a dorm room with a trio of nerds, one of whom is black. The nerds' names were never mentioned in the episode, but a poster on one website claims that the black nerd's name was listed as "Gary" on a script — I think he was voiced by Harry Shearer.

10/17/2006 10:45 AM  
Blogger Toonhead_NPL said...

Boo on Eugene. The decided they needed to add a minority, and because "make the black one the smart one" worked so well in the past (hello, Pussycat Valerie) they basically took Dilton Doiley and blacked him up. I guess existing Archies black fella Chuck was too boring since his only ability to speak of is that he's a pretty good artist.

10/22/2006 1:15 PM  

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