SXSW Comedy Review: The Randown With Robin Thede

Panel ran down the lack of representation in the industry

Robin Thede, former head writer of The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore, and current host of her own late-night show, The Rundown, recorded an episode of The Randown, the show’s new companion podcast. First topic: Trump. Or as Thede put it: “The current president being sued by a porn star.”

Robin Thede (Photo by Island Boi Photography)

Thede hosted a panel of guests from around the festival, including Matthew A. Cherry (Monkeypaw Productions), who wrote and directed 9 Rides (SXSW 2016 premiere) and The Last Fall (SXSW 2012 premiere). This year, he co-hosts the panel #OscarsSoWhite: What's Next for Entertainment? with Thede and the hashtag’s founder − and fellow Randown guest − April Reign. Amber Ruffin (Late Night With Seth Meyers, Detroiters) and Jermaine Fowler − who appears in the SXSW 2018 film Sorry to Bother You and in comedy shows throughout the week − also joined.

The recording started in the usual way, with a recap of The Rundown and current events. That meant the all-important question: Will adding a porn star’s name to the list of lawsuits currently facing 45 be enough to bring him down? Like the other guests, Fowler doubted it. “If the racism didn’t do it, I doubt Stormy will,” he said. “But maybe. White ladies did a lot this year.”

The poignant hilarity just built from there. They talked the phenomenon that is Black Panther and the minimum requisite screening requirement. They touched on cringe-worthy Oscar moments, like when Oscar winner Jordan Peele was called “The kid from Comedy Central,” and whether it’s too soon to call Get Out one of the best films ever made. (It’s not.) And they discussed the problem of representation − with Fowler recalling the all-white exec board that canceled The Get Down. “You won’t see any real change until it’s behind the camera,” he said.

During the Q&A, the panel was asked about the isolation that members of marginalized communities feel. “When we leave this table, we’re alone,” said Thede. “White people live and work in predominately white spaces.” Even when white people are in predominately black spaces “they choose to be there,” she said. “We don’t have a choice.” It provided great context for a conversation earlier in the ep about how white society only accepts absolute excellence from black people and how that limits black representation. “Black people are starving,” said Ruffin, who just wants to see black people everywhere like she sees white people everywhere. “I want a movie with black people to come out and to be able to say, ‘That was garbage,’” she joked. It’s rare because only excellence gets consideration, and then a lot rides on its success. “Unfortunately for black folks and other marginalized communities, everything rides on it,” said Reign. “Oh to have the confidence of a mediocre white man.”

Episodes of The Randown are available here.

The Randown With Robin Thede Podcast Recording

Saturday, March 10, the Hideout

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Austin Institution Saxon Pub Survives in SXSW Documentary
Austin Institution Saxon Pub Survives in SXSW Documentary
A glimmer of hope amid Austin development in Nothing Stays the Same: The Story of the Saxon Pub

Doug Freeman, March 8, 2019

Snapshot: Illustrator Amitai Plasse
Snapshot: Illustrator Amitai Plasse
Artist finds inspiration in Austin's live music scene

David Brendan Hall, March 23, 2018

More by Ashley Moreno
Moontower 2019 Review: Amanda Seales
Moontower 2019 Review: Amanda Seales
Her wide-ranging set proved this comic can't be pigeonholed

April 30, 2019

Moontower 2019 Review: Hari Kondabolu
Moontower 2019 Review: Hari Kondabolu
This stand-up act balanced light humor and social issues

April 29, 2019


SXSW Comedy, SXSW 2018, The Randown, Robin Thede, Matthew A. Cherry, April Reign, Jermaine Fowler, Amber Ruffin

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle