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

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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