The Black-Jew Dialogues performed at Ryerson on January 24, 2012. Photo: Brian Batista

Ryerson hosts Black-Jew dialogues

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By Abigale Subdhan

Racism and cultural stereotypes have never been considered funny; however that was not the case Tuesday night. Instead, these issues ended up being the hilarious punch line of the evening.

On Tuesday Ryerson was the first university in Canada to host the Black-Jew Dialogues – a comedy show aimed at addressing the ridiculous truth about prejudice. The Dialogues bring together the comic duo of Emmy-winner Ron Jones and actor Larry Jay Tish. They combine comedy and multimedia to fight the stereotypes that students hear daily.

“It’s like the Dave Chappelle show, but with a conscience,” says Mitch Reiss, president ofHillel@Ryerson, Ryerson’s Jewish students association.

“It’s comedy for an important purpose.” The event was organized by four Ryerson students groups: Hillel@Ryerson, The West IndianStudents Association, the Oakham Amateur Campus Theatre group and the United Black Students at Ryerson.

They felt that the message was important for students especially in a diverse atmosphere like Ryerson.

“We wanted to get the example rolling. Students, when they come together, can make a difference,” said Reiss. “They can stop racism on campus.”

The idea for the Black-Jew Dialogues came to Tish when he was praying. He realized the strong similarities between Jewish and African-American history and wanted to get the conversation started on discrimination, he said.

“We want this show to be inspiration to engage in dialogue. To understand the things we talk about and laugh,” said Tish.

“It’s edutainment,” included Jones.

The show is based on real conversations between Jones and Tish. They locked themselves in a cheap Massachusetts hotel room for three days of non-stop talking and typing.

By the end of the third day, they had a 120-page script. The show includes a series of comedy skits, including a game show, a bar mitzvah and two quarrelling grannies.

It ends with an interactive discussion with the audience about racism and prejudice. Ryerson student, Jaron Scheinbach, feels that the show sent a good message.

“They broke boundaries with humour,” said Scheinbach. “It was about getting people to connect and to talk about [being different].”

Reiss said that ultimately he wants students to continue the discussion on racism.“If people aren’t talking, misconceptions in your head become reality,” said Reiss. “And it’s important to change this through campuses.”

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