directed by Whoopi Goldberg
© 2014 Home Box Office, Inc.
Why Would a Watermelon Be Delivered in a Plain, Brown Wrapper? -- Vignette From "Moms Mabley," directed by Whoopi Goldberg -- Little Movie
[Serious: Jokes about the race problems by some of top comedians set off sharp criticisms that started many heated pro and con arguments.
[Harry Belafonte, Artist, Activist] One of the things that I think we became very much aware of in the upheaval of the Civil Rights movement: it was the full realisation of how much all of America, but in particular White America, did not know why they were prejudiced.
They came with mythology and tales.
And one of the things we had to do was to educate.
I put on several shows, and one of them was called "A Time for Laughter," because if we could not laugh at ourselves in a way that was translatable for White folks, they would not see the dimension of our humanity.
[NEGRO HUMOR: An Answer to Anguish. Laughter has been valuable tool for survival in times of racial oppression, by Allan Morrison.]
[A Time For Laughter]
[Sidney Poitier, "A Time For Laughter," 1967] The price of integration has frightened an awful lot of people -- even some of us.
But not for the same reasons. It has been said, "What does it matter if a man gains the whole world and loses his soul?" Hmm?
As seen by the Negro humorist, integration does have its ... hangups!
[Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss]
[Godfrey Cambridge/Mr. Grammarson] Your idea of taking the train was much better!
[Diana Sands/Mumzi] Yeeesss.
[Godfrey Cambridge/Mr. Grammarson] Oh, I'm so glad I don't have to drive through Harlem.
[Diana Sands/Mumzi] Ohhhh!
[Godfrey Cambridge/Mr. Grammarson] Those people! Yecch!
[Diana Sands/Mumzi] Yes, dear, they ARE a problem!
[Godfrey Cambridge/Mr. Grammarson] They CERTAINLY are! And then, Mumzi, I had this most incredible experience on the train!
I sat down next to this distinguished lady, and as I sat down next to her she went,
And I said, "Where?! Where?!
[Harry Belafonte, Artist, Activist] If you get people to laugh, you might find a deeper humanity to what it is we're trying to say.
But we've seduced you with humor rather than with tragedy.
And I think nobody did that better than all the artists I called upon to come into this show, which was to take the most serious Civil Rights situations, give them to the humorist: Red Fox, Moms Mabley, Godfrey Cambridge, and all of the others, and say, "Look. Here is the situation: Get off and improvise."
[Diana Sands/Mumzi] Ding-a-ling!
[Godfrey Cambridge/Mr. Grammarson] Hoo, hoo! Let's come!
[Diana Sands/Mumzi] Ding-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling! Ding-a-ling-a-ling!
[Moms Mabley/Peola] Why don't somebody answer that bell?
[MOMS' TELEVISION DEBUT, 1967]
[Godfrey Cambridge/Mr. Grammarson] Who is that?!
[Diana Sands/Mumzi] That's Peola, dear.
[Moms Mabley/Peola] Ow!
[Diana Sands/Mumzi] Peola!
That is the man of the house, Mr. Grammarson.
[Moms Mabley/Peola] Oh, excuse me!
[Godfrey Cambridge/Mr. Grammarson] Pleased to meet you, Peola!
[Moms Mabley/Peola] Same thing him.
[Diana Sands/Mumzi] Uh, now, Peola --
Peola, you just trot along and bring Mr. Grammarson his tranquilizers.
[Moms Mabley/Peola] Goin' to get 'em!
[Godfrey Cambridge/Mr. Grammarson] Uh, Peola!
[Harry Belafonte, Artist, Activist] I loved her to pieces. When I called and told her she was doing my show, she got very emotional. When I gave her the platform to come, it was one of the first times that the universe was beginning to open up to give her an opportunity to be recognized more fully in a much broader demographic for who she was.
[Moms Mabley/Peola] Whatcha got there, Grammarson?
[Godfrey Cambridge/Mr. Grammarson] Uh, my bowling ball!
[Moms Mabley/Peola] I ain't never seen an oblong bowling ball before.
[Godfrey Cambridge/Mr. Grammarson] You haven't?
[Moms Mabley/Peola] No, I haven't! Give it here. I'll ice it and slice it for ya.
Ooooh, Watermelon Man!
[Godfrey Cambridge/Mr. Grammarson] Ohhhhhh, Mumzi! Now everyone will know we're colored!
[Diana Sands/Mumzi] Yes, yes, yes.