Baron Vaughn talks about growing up in a rough neighborhood, the relative trustworthiness of cereal mascots and the test that all black people secretly give each other.
Okay, kind of.
Well, hello, if I didn'tsay it before.
I'm trying to find a deeper,
truer meaningto the word "hello,"
'cause it's a wordthat we say so much
that sometimes it feels,you know, meaningless.
And I was looking it uponline the other night--
and that's how you knowyou're alone.
When you... are in bedalone on the Internet
late at night and you're not looking at porn.
Like, you're beyond porn.
You're like, "Well, nothingleft but clips of break-dances
"and, uh, billiardstrick shot videos,
"'cause knowing random things
is the same as a personality,right, myself?"
And usually in that place,I'm like,
"What's the opposite of sex?Education!"
Then I tryto teach myself something.
So, "hello" usedto not be a greeting.
It used to meanone of two things.
It used to be a callinto the darkness.
"Is anyone there?" you know?
You'd say, "Hello!"in a forest alone
and hope you didn't hear wolves.
And then the otherwas what you said
when you weresurprised by-- "Hello!"
That was the other one.
You weren't expecting someonethere in your face.
Maybe a wolf. "Hello!"
You don't have to say itlike you're in
a local production of Bye Bye Birdie, but...
it does help convey the meaning.
And, uh, I love that,
'cause that meanson some deep visceral level,
"hello" really means"I am scared."
And that's what we're sayingto people all the time.
We have no idea!That's what we're doing
walking down the street,"I'm scared, I'm scared.
"Oh, okay,I got a important phone call.
"Might be my boss.Hold on real quick.
And I love that.
And "good-bye"used to be "God be with ye."
But we were like,"I don't have time for that."
Keep half the letters--much more usable.
And I think we should go backto "God be with ye,"
because that isthe scariest thing
you can say to someone's face...
right before they exit yours.
You got to balance out"I'm scared."
Like, next timesomeone's like, "I'm leaving,"
don't be like,"Okay, see ya."
Put on a show!
Turn on some dramatic musicand just go,
"I know not what will happenwhen you leave my sight.
"There is much world,and there are as many knives
"as there are hands of strangersto wield them against you!
"Terror and fearare your only true companions
"in this beast's gutwe call existence.
"I'd go with you,but I just got this couch
"to the perfect degreeof ass warmth...
"and also theseWorldStarHipHop
"bus driver video fights
"aren't goingto watch themselves.
"So, until next I gaze uponyour face,
God be with ye."
I, um, really I haven't beensleeping enough lately.
Love sleep.Sleep-- great, right?
Round of applausefor sleep if you love it.
(laughs) Sleep is great.
You're just doing nothingwhile your brain defragments.
Being awake is great.
Being awake is awesome, too.
Like, "What? Orgasms and sushi?"
it's the transitionI don't care for.
Waking up, right?
Because you are ripped,ripped out of whatever
your brain was doingto make you happy.
Usually, I'm in a hot tubwith a successful black actress
while she gives me a backruband I make puns on her name.
"They should call youMeagan Good With Your Hands."
she looks at me,and she's like...
(imitates alarm clock beeping)
And I wake up like,"What? Sushi?"
I'm just willing to wagerthat nobody here today
woke up this morningand said to yourself,
"Oh, my God, that was the exactamount of rest I needed!
"I'm on time for everythingI need to do today!
"I like you, me,"to yourself in the mirror.
You walk out the door,"Off to the place
where no one misunderstands mecalled work."
I just hate waking upmore than anything.
It's, like, number oneon my list, waking up.
Number one, number one,waking up!
Number two is, uh... racism.
It goes: waking up,then racism--
and then small dogs.
That's really the order. I...
The only thing that could beworse is waking up to racism,
which is awkwardto say the least.
"What a lovely rest.
"Why is this ropearound my neck?
"Why is there a burning cross
and pugs and Chihuahuaseverywhere?!"
That's how I assumepeople find a burning cross.
They kind of wake up to it,right? Smell it cooking.
"What is that, breakfast?Nope, just hatred."
'Cause no one ever noticesthe workshop of the cross,
guys building it.
No one ever notices the dudesneaking down the street
in white robeswith a bunch of two-by-fours
just likea Warner Bros. cartoon.
He's like...(humming cartoon music)
(makes whooshing sounds)
(imitates Elmer Fudd):"Be very, very quiet.
I'm running for senator."
(clears throat)That's weird.
I got black testedthe other day.
Uh, which is obnoxious
'cause my blackness isconstantly under investigation,
because, uh, black peoplecan't tell where I'm from
based on the way that I speak,
so I'm constantly tryingto prove myself.
Just like,"Excuse me, brother, yeah, yeah.
"Uh, can you name twoof the three elements used
in the band nameEarth, Wind & Fire?"
"Uh, earth and wind?"
"Okay, Malcolm X's birth name?"
"Malcolm Little.""All right, finish this lyric.
'It was all a dream.'"
"I used to read Word Up Magazine."
"Will you hide thisfor a month?"
"Correct. Just a week."
It's because black peopleall have, uh,
different definitionsof blackness,
and we'll all never agreewhat that is,
but we all think our versionshould be the version.
And this is why black people
constantly black testeach other, you know?
And I'll give youthe telltale signs
of, like,two black strangers talking,
having a black test.
Like, it might be in a placewhere you're...
where you run into strangers,you know, a DMV,
One black personwill be telling a story,
monopolizing the conversation.
Something like, "And thenI stabbed that smurfy mother."
Which, to be fair,is a good story.
I mean, it's got a clearbeginning, a middle and an end.
"I stabbed that smurfy motherwith the shiv I carved
out of an old televisionremote control."
Wow, is that Hemmingway?
the other black person,while listening to that story,
will ask a series of follow-upquestions that reveal
what kind of black personthey are.
Like, one black personwill be like,
"Why would you... Why?
"Do you love pizza?
"So do I. I love pizza.
"Perhaps that personloved pizza.
"Why would you hurt someonethat loves what you love?"
That's one kind of black person.
Another kind of black personwould be like,
"Should have stabbedhis ass twice."
And then laugh way too longwith their mouth way too open.
Like, a fly can go in there.
And then a third black personwould be like,
well, they won't say anything.
They'll just stab the personthat was talking, you know?
Doesn't matter where they are,who's watching,
they just drop themto the ground.
They're like, "That's howyou take care of biz.
"I'm sorry, your name's not Biz?
"Well, there's beena horrible mistake,
"but no regrets.
Pound it, lock it,throw away the key."
And the reason Ibring up this, uh,
black-istential crisis is, uh,
because someonerecently asked me
if I use the, uh,the N word in my life.
And I'm like,"I never say never 3-D."
No, I was like,"Hey, thanks for asking,
"bearded white manat this party.
"Uh, now I regret going outside.
"Usually, I don't say it
"because it makesmy grandmother's ghost cry.
"Also, you should have said'the N word'
instead of saying the N word."
That's not true.I do use it sometimes.
Like, I'll use it if I'm talkingto a black person
I know I will never see again.
They drop itinto the conversation,
and then I got to passthis pop quiz
that I obviously studied for.
Like, I wasat a grocery store recently,
trolling for breakfast cereals,my one true weakness.
I walk around the corner.
This black dude, right,my age, a janitor,
cleaning up glass and jelly'cause someone felt like
knocking over Smucker'sthat day.
Let me add that he was notdoing a good job.
He was just mopping itin a circle,
as if to say,"The pinker this becomes,
"the cleaner this becomes.
"No one will see the glass.
That's the point of it."
(chuckles)And I walk
around the corner,and he saw me.
Like, his eyes lit up, right,and he thought
he had a chance to relate,to commiserate, with somebody,
and he perked up,and I walked towards him.
He's like,"Hey, brother, brother.
"Niggas got me down.
got me down!"
And then he stared.
And I was like, (gasps) my turn.
And you got to be pitch perfect.
It's all about authenticity.
Falseness can besniffed out, right?
So I didn't breakthat eye contact.
I held it, I cocked my head,
did that Denzel Washington thingto my nose,
and I was like, (laughs)
"Niggas ain't shit!"
And then I was out.
I can tell by his face,he had many more questions.
And, uh, "What?"
And, uh,"Why do I feel so alive?"
Because that's what I do.
I stab you with my brain shiv
that I carvedout of cultural stereotypes.
God be with ye.
of a cereal aisle,
because that's eye levelfor a child.
They see that,and they go, "That!"
And then the father goes, "Ah,how much for him not to cry?"
But healthier stuff is, like,at the top, right?
So when I go to buy cereal,like, my gaze drops.
I'm told the storyof who I should be
as opposed to who I actually am.
'Cause it's kind of like,"Right there at the top, Kashi.
"Eat that.You're not sure what's in it.
"You're not even sureif you said it correctly,
"but it's got to be good.
"There's pictures of wheaton the box.
"And look at the onenext to them.
"They're hugging and smiling.Know why?
"'Cause they're gonna livepast 40.
Kashi. Eat that."
Then I go down one more shelf.
"Corn Chex is cool.
"Corn Chex is totally fine.
"12 essential vitaminsand nutrients.
"It's right on the box.
Corn Chex, still doing great."
Then I look down one more shelf.
"Honey Nut Cheerios, okay.
"I'm losing you a little bit.
"Uh, it is Cheerios,which is good,
"but I'll tell youmy greatest concern.
"There's a cartoon on the box.
"But it is a cartoon bee,
and at least bees exist."
"As long as you staywith illustrations
"of thingsthat are actually things,
"then you're doing okay.
Honey Nut Cheerios,I'll accept it."
"Elves aren't real!
"Why is that tigerwearing a scarf?!
"He shouldn't be cold;he's covered in fur!
"That captaindoes not look licensed
"to operate a vesselon the milk seas!
"And you're goingafter a cereal
"that featuresthe modern Stone Age family?
"That's not a thing!
"You can't havea small brontosaurus
"as a pet dog.
"They never existed!
"Keep down this path,
you're gonna end up just likethat diabetic vampire."
All right, that's it for me,everybody.