Commentary: Kenyans Have the Last Laugh at Jimmy Kimmel

Everybody's got jokes until the joke’s on you.

Posted: 02/21/2013 10:12 AM EST

Anyone who has ever been made fun of knows that comedy is a matter of perspective.

Recently, American late night host Jimmy Kimmel aired an insensitive rag on Kenyans called “Kenyans Reading Celebrity Tweets.” The Kimmel skit featured random people in Kenya reading the rather ordinarily obnoxious Twitter musings from American “celebrities” like Snooki and Paris Hilton. And people laughed at it because it was supposed to be funny.

But Kenyans weren’t having it.

Days later, an online TV channel called 10MinFix posted their own version of the skit from the streets of L.A., featuring random Americans reading tweets from Kenyan celebrities, posted in Swahili, making everyone who appeared on camera look and sound like complete idiots.

After getting his tongue tied on one of the tweets, one man exclaimed, “Are these, like, real words?!”

Yes. They are real words. Spoken by nearly 70 million people around the world.

Without knowing a word of what was said, after watching both videos, it’s clear that the Kenyan version avenged just about anybody who has been ever taunted or made fun of by the mainstream.

African-American comedians have been reversing the public comedic lens for years (think: Martin’s Bob from Marketing), but now, as media and information becomes more interconnected, and Africans and other immigrant groups begin to wield greater power over their public images, it’s likely we will see more retorts of this sort.

And I’m not just talking about white people. I’m sure many African-Americans and Latinos and Asian-Americans thought that Kimmel bit was cute. But it's common playground wisdom that everybody makes fun of everybody, until the joke’s on you.

It’s high time Americans stopped thinking of ourselves as the gold standard in culture and entertainment. For decades the world has been watching … and now that they’re talking back, will we like what they have to say about us?

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(Photo: The Ten Minute Fix via YouTube)

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