Stock show gay jokes: Earlier controversies over routines about lynching, using "Jew" as a verb

Categories: News, Sports

Earlier this week, the National Western Stock Show apologized for gay jokes told by its rodeo clown/bullfighter and announcer. But the incident wasn't the first of its kind for the stock show. In 1997, there were two others: one in which a black rodeo clown made a joke that many interpreted as being about lynching and another in which an announcer used the word "jewing."

Here's how Westword reported the 1997 incidents:

National Western Stock Show spokesman Guy Elliott defended public-address announcer Hadley Barrett's telling a story about a stock buyer "Jewing the price down" by explaining that Barrett had used the word "Jew" as a verb.
The stock show canned African-American rodeo clown Leon Coffee for what it deemed racially insensitive jokes, such as standing in a pile of dark-colored manure and saying, "I'm melting."

According to a Rocky Mountain News story about an entirely different stock show-related flub (in which 2008's Citizen of the West made a racist quip about Obama), Coffee also got in trouble for a joke routine he performed with another rodeo clown, who was white.

The routine went like this: Coffee attempted to rope a calf. The announcer teased him about it. The other rodeo clown, Eddie Hatfield, responded by saying that Coffee knew everything about ropes because his father and grandfather died at the end of one.

Coffee, a rodeo veteran, helped write the routine and tried to explain that the joke was a reference to lynching outlaws, not African-Americans. But he was fired nonetheless. As for Barrett, the News reported that he declined to work for the rodeo the next year.

More from our Kenny Be/comics archive: "Stock Show visitors greeted by shadowy Globeville figures: Kenny Be's Yard Arteology."

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Hard not to notice today that the Westword uses the P word -- offensive to women and men -- to describe Jay Cutler, yet Miss Asmar gets under underwear in a bunch over mild jokes told by a rodeo clown.

Talk about double standards.


Grew up on the east coast, never heard anyone use the term "jew" as a verb until I moved to Colorado. It's offensive to me, and offensive in general.


It's always important to keep in mind where a person is coming from when reading their opinions and forming your own as to their legitimacy as well as their agenda.

The nuts and bolts truth about the National Western is that the type of humor that's bantered around there is decades old, and meant to cater to a more rural demographic than urban. It just is. Not good, not bad, just the way it is. The people, by and large, buying the tickets, the food, drink, memorabilia, the kiosk and booth items, are more country than city.

With the rural mentality, off color jokes about minorities, gays, women and "city folks" are going to resonate more and a heck of a lot more likely to get traction than jokes about goobers, rednecks, hayseeds, and "country folks".

That said, to Bob's "outrage" at the author's pointing out the previous misbehavings at the event,, it's probably a whole lot easier to laugh off a mean spirited insult about somebody else, as he's doing, and call someone that calls out the perpetrators "child" than it would be to laugh off a mean spirited insult about him or someone or something he values or loves.

It's also easier to defend that humor if you tend to agree with its' premise than to say the mean spirited nature of it is wrong.

It's the selfish, old "Oh well, it wasn't me" approach that's so prevalent today.


Melanie, perhaps you could practice real journalism and call some gay rights groups for their reaction, or perhaps you did and they laughed it off as .... JOKES. Do you fire off angry letters to the comedians on TV, or to your own editor for some of the juvenile humor that passes as journalism on this site? Westword doesn't seem to be able to let this nothing story go -- that you're trying to start a controversy where none exists and nobody's buying it. Perhaps? Does it infuriate you that much that no other media outlet has covered this? Child.

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