Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Comedian Jim Labriola has said and heard some funny things in his career in standup and on television, but few of them have been as ridiculous as the charge that tea parties are inherently “racist.”
“I don’t know what ‘racism’ these people are talking about. I was there, all over the country, I never saw it,” Labriola told WND. “I saw nothing but patriots, people that believe in this country, lower taxes. I didn’t see one racist sign.
“I actually performed after Sarah Palin in Boston, where we had close to 20,000 people, and I got up and did my thing and I didn’t see anything hateful,” he continued. “We, however, got egged that day, and you didn’t hear that on the news.”
Labriola’s career began at New York City’s famous Catch a Rising Star Comedy Club, and he has toured the country on stages all across America. He may best be known, however, for a recurring role on the television hit “Home Improvement,” as well as in the film “Santa Clause.”
Labriola, who has a home in Tennessee, was invited by fellow comic and tea partier Victoria Jackson of “Saturday Night Live” fame to join the Tea Party Express at its stop in Nashville.
His comedy set was such a hit, Labriola continued on with the Express, performing in eight more cities, including a big rally in Boston and the culmination of the tour in Washington, D.C., on April 15.
Video of Labriola on stage with the tea partiers in Boston can be seen below:
Labriola told WND that “liberals,” both in the media and in Hollywood, keep insisting the tea partiers are racist, angry and even frightening. One left-leaning comic even told him she was afraid to go to a rally.
In Labriola’s experience, however, the truth is exactly the opposite.
“I’ve never seen nicer people than the tea partiers,” he said, “But I did see angry, anti-tea-party protesters that would stand outside while we came into a place, shouting stuff and trying to antagonize the speakers. In Boston, the bus was parked right behind the stage, and a few people lobbed eggs over the bus at us.”
Labriola also told WND that there was racism at one of the rallies, but it didn’t come from the tea partiers.
“We had about four or five speakers on the buses who were black, who you never saw on television when they showed clips of the tea party. We had a Mexican rapper named Politik. But you never saw them.
“One place where we were, I think it was Albany, there was a black lady holding a ‘Yes we can’ sign,” he continued. “The tea partiers were tying to be nice to her, but at one point she said to Victoria Jackson, ‘Get away from me, you white cracker!’
“And who did the news crews go to, to ask about the tea parties?” Labriola said. “They went to her.”
Labriola also had some tough words for the leaders of race-based organizations who, he says, have been unjustly “playing the race card.”
“I grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Queens,” he testified. “I grew up with prejudice; I know what prejudice is – Italians didn’t like the blacks, blacks didn’t like the Italians, then when the Puerto Ricans starting moving in … thank goodness you get older and you realize we’re all God’s children.
“I think those that play the race card are doing more harm than good to the people they’re claiming to help. And I’d tell them right to their face … because I have an Uncle Dominic,” Labriola said, referring to jokes about his tough, “mobster” family member.
In summary, however, touring with the tea partiers has been encouraging to the comedian, something he called “a great experience.”
“I was so proud to be an American, to see people out there really doing something,” Labriola told WND. “You know how we all sit around the barbecue and we complain, but we do nothing. These people are doing something, and they’re making a difference.”