For eight years, and despite its notoriously racist history, the U.S. had a biracial President. Yet Barack Obama was little discussed as such. For all intents and purposes he was our first black President. In Bill Posley‘s gut-punching and laugh-out-loud-funny solo show The Day I Became Black, the actor-comedian explores the peculiar realities, generally unsuspected by the “monoracial” among us, of being biracial. Why is this identity such a murky presence in such a polyglot country?
Some answers begin to seep through the cracks during Posley’s show, itself a hybrid of a standup comedy special and a TED-type talk. He takes us through his family background and what it was like to grow up with a white mother and a black father. Along the way he describes adventures and side missions into police brutality, sexual awakening, the OJ verdict, genealogy research, slavery’s legacy, Hollywood stereotyping, and other fraught issues and events that illuminate not only the obvious racial fractures in American society but the hidden coves of biracial identity.
A talented mimic, Posley brings a number of interesting characters to life, including his intolerant black grandmother; his didactic father, the value of whose lessons about the realities of being black in America he came to realize belatedly; and white folks and black folks in general, by baiting the audience with humorous stereotypes. Most importantly, he brings us his own multidimensional self, illustrated in one especially clever sequence by an internal debate between his “black” and “white” halves.
TV news footage, animated videos, and family photos add color (so to speak) to the monologue. But the show is really down to Posley and his open, generous, irresistible personality. His aim at a broad range of comic targets is true. And as important as any of the show’s individual elements is its flow. He weaves belly laughs and social commentary, belly laughs and harsh realities, into an eloquent appeal for harmony and understanding.
Be prepared to laugh yourself silly as Bill Posley gets his serious message across. The Day I Became Black has been extended at the SoHo Playhouse through May 6. For tickets and schedule visit the website.