How an Obama impersonator turned the joke on the Republicans
Who would have thought being booed off the stage by bigwigs would do wonders for an entertainer's career? What can the Middle East learn from what happened to Reggie Brown?
June 26, 2011 4:04 by kippreport
So here is the first of what I hope will be many monthly articles that I write for the Kippreport. I will be looking at some of the interesting and hot PR topics taking place today while giving my own unique take on them. The opinions expressed in these articles are my own and do not represent my employer blah blah you know the rest. I just hope to make it an interesting read. So let’s get started.
One story that had me in stitches last week is the Republicans hiring Reggie Brown, an Obama impersonator and comedian who appeared on “America’s Got Talent”, to perform at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. His performance is all over YouTube so it’s worth checking out.
Here’s a sample, uploaded by user ‘xxxxxxxxxxvxxxxxxxxx’:
What was supposed to be a night of entertainment and laughter at the expense of the Democrats quickly turned into a crisis management exercise with the comedian being yanked off stage. This was the ideal platform for the patriotic, steak-eating, riffle-shooting Republicans to mock and rip into Obama and the Democrats.
But how well did they know Reggie Brown and did they even brief him or go over his material before he went on stage? Apparently not. Reggie Brown came to town with his own agenda and, as any good comedian would, he went where the laughter was regardless of political affinities.
COMEDY IS FAIR GAME
What the Republicans failed to realise is that comedy has no allies and everybody is fair game. The room was whooping with laughter when the Obama, Weiner and other Democrat jokes came out, but as he switched his focus to Republican candidates such as Romney and Pawlenty, the laughter in the room deflated like the Dubai real estate market in 2009. Reggie didn’t even get to deliver his Sarah Palin joke, which would have undoubtedly been the highlight of the night, before he was ushered off stage.
Part of the criticism towards Brown was that some of his jokes were racially insensitive. This seems to be a poor excuse as to why they cut his act short. It was obvious that they were getting increasingly uncomfortable as the jokes turned on their party. If you don’t want to hear racially laced jokes then don’t hire an Obama impersonator.
STUFFY, CLUELESS AND OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY
So how did this fiasco reflect on the Republicans? Well, it portrayed them as stuffy, clueless and completely out of touch with reality. From a PR perspective, Obama wasn’t even there and still came out on top. The Republicans took their riffles from their “cold dead hands” and shot themselves right in the foot.
WHAT CAN THE MIDDLE EAST LEARN FROM THIS?
In silencing the comedian they may have hoped to minimise the fall-out, but instead they damaged themselves by looking like they can’t take a joke. What would have been a better reaction? Let the guy finish his set and show that you understand humour and, most importantly, have class! If the Republicans want to shed their old-fashioned and aloof image, well this didn’t help.
So what are some of the learnings we can take from all this? If you want to succeed at anything in life, it’s important to be able to laugh at yourself. That’s especially relevant in the Middle East where there are so many different nationalities, cultures and things can be taken out of context quite easily. Take a step back, don’t overreact and don’t try and cover up a mistake because things are usually never as bad as they seem.
Other than Obama, the big winner of the night was the little known Reggie Brown who, for anyone who has seen “America’s Got Talent”, does a terrific Obama impersonation. He’s already doing the customary TV interviews and talk shows and I’m sure will be booked for many months to come.
In fact, here’s his most recent stint after being boo’d off the GOP stage:
Weber Shandwick Dubai