On the latest episode of Ziwe’s Instagram Live Show, Ziwe interviews two wildly different, and wildly entertaining guests. Her first, comedian Josh Sharp of The Opposition with Jordan Klepper, was raring and ready to go, familiar with the format and full of energy. The second interview subject, Taylor Nolan, was a contestant on Season 21 of The Bachelor and winner of Bachelor in Paradise, finding love with Derek Peth. As confident and self-assured as Josh was, Taylor was often the opposite, vulnerable and clearly in the middle of working out her own relation to race and Blackness as a biracial woman. Throw in a few technical difficulties that befell Taylor and it was a truly unforgettable episode.
How many Black friends does he have? “I have nine good Black friends, 21 Black acquaintances, 12 former Black coworkers that I’m friendly with, and 1 Black enemy.”
How many times did Ziwe lean in? 14
Jessica: As always, Ziwe did not come to play even though I’ve seen via Instagram that she has been a busy bee! Serving us Post Office realness complete with stamp accessories. “Stamps are like stickers that help people.” I’d sign for this package!
Chris: The outfit was very “french Dorothy with stamps as nipple tassels,” which I obviously loved. Look, if Ziwe putting Stamps on her boobs and neck doesn’t save the USPS, I don’t know what will. You’re right, Ziwe has had a busy week, appearing on Watch What Happens Live!, landing on Variety’s 10 Comics to Watch list, and landing a major book deal and, yet she still has time for her Instagram live show. Gotta love that hustle.
Jessica: Josh started out strong with a strong drink in hand, VERY “Ladies Who Lunch.” Notice the nice piece of citrus in the drink, too. Queer folks know how to make a cocktail. I’d like to address the “Activist Drag” here as well. I love it. Josh looks like a bitter ex chain smoking at the mall, right outside the food court. Obviously we’re about to go shop at Hot Topic.
Chris: The drink made me so nervous. We’ve seen what happens when white people drink on this show and it usually doesn’t end well (see: Caroline Calloway, who somehow seems to come up in every recap). That reminds me, we should create a drinking game for Black people who watch the show (white people should be paying attention and taking notes). Take a sip every time Ziwe leans in, a shot every time Angela Davis or James Baldwin is invoked, and finish your drink if the guest doesn’t know who Assata Shakur or Thurgood Marshall is. You’d absolutely black the fuck out.
Jessica: YESSSSSSS DRINKING GAME! “There is really no excuse for improv.” Josh, you are 100 percent correct and also wrong? As a UCB diversity scholar recipient, improv has taught me which straight white men to avoid.
Chris: As a fellow UCB diversity scholar recipient, I can also attest to the danger and depravity of improv, even though I quit after 201 because my professor skipped 1/3 of the classes that most people paid $450 dollars for and that sort of killed the vibe for me, if you can imagine. Yes and? More like no, thank you.
Jessica: SMH. But yes, Josh, let’s talk about thin white gay men privilege! Y’all really be messing up. There is cognitive dissonance from racism in that community. Many of you think you can’t contribute to oppression because you’re a gay man. This is a myth. It is your job as a gay man to fight for your entire community and the people most at risk, like queer BIPOC. So no, Dave with the vacation house in the Keys, your “oppression” is not the same as ours.
Chris: Speak on it. I gotta say, Josh’s energy was unbridled. Knowing Josh and his comedy, I believe he is ultimately chaotic good. And if not chaotic good, he’s definitely chaotic-something, because the energy on the Live was electric, honey! It was great for the show, as we have had a lot of lawful and neutral energy from the guests recently. It was exciting to see someone so energetic and seemingly unafraid of public opinion. I searched for a while and there was truly no fear in his eyes, which was concerning to me (I always like my white people to be at least a little afraid), but also refreshing. Josh was raring and ready to GO. Someone in the comments said “can I watch this on .75 speed” and that did resonate with me. But I agree, I loved his take on the insidiousness of white gay culture. No lies detected.
Jessica: Josh was chaotic good! Totally unafraid to be wrong, which is the point of growth. All white people are racist, and I think he gets that. Now it’s about unpacking your prejudices and being honest about what you don’t know. You can’t learn if you are unwilling to make a mistake. Ziwe asks, “How many women of color did you appropriate in the last week?” which is wonderful question to ask any white gay! There’s a lot of appropriation going on there! I spit out my drink when Josh mentioned Las Culturistas.
Chris: As a loyal Culturista from the jump, I did appreciate that shoutout. Petition to get Matt and Bowen on Ziwe’s Instagram Live. (Could you imagine!) But yes, I agree there was a confidence to Josh during the interview that was disarming. Is that confidence an unearned facet of living your life with all of the privilege that being a Tall White Gay ™ confers? Perhaps, but it’s confidence nonetheless. I think even Ziwe was taken aback by Josh’s energy. She set a record for lean-ins on this one (14, by my count) and seemed genuinely bemused by Josh’s antics. At one point she literally said, “you are on one,” and on one he was!
Jessica: Josh really shook up the guest energy, and left Ziwe in need of air more than once. I think Ziwe might pass away from having Matt and Bowen on. I mean, I die. When Josh said he discovered racism existed when he was a kid in school and noticed there were no Black kids in his class, I thought to myself Oh Josh, if only unpacking systemic racism was as easy as understanding how sample sets work. But wait, maybe it is? Like, you should think it’s weird if you’re only surrounded by people that look like you.
We also have to get into Josh’s love of Erykah Badu. Mama’s Gun is a masterpiece, yes, but it’s not for you. At the first mention of Badu, I thought, “Wow, this virtue signal is like a flood light!” But then, Josh sang a little and it made me believe that he was a true fan. Josh may receive a chocolate chip for that. A single. Chip.
Chris: When Ziwe said he wasn’t on Twitter (suspicious) and then he countered by saying he had a secret Twitter account, I absolutely expected him to finish the sentence with “for porn,” so imagine my shock when he said he made one to win tickets to an Erykah Badu concert. My initial reaction was nice try, but you get no cookies for this, Josh! But then he took a calculated risk, did two Badu vocal impersonations — which most white guests smartly refuse to do, for fear of appropriation/looking dumb — and I was like, damn it seems like he has a deep appreciation for Ms. Badu and I can appreciate that. I sometimes forget in this climate that I have no issue with white people singing songs popularized and performed by Black artists (honestly they should do so more often, the songs are usually better). Josh risked it and actually? He got the biscuit. Can’t wait till Josh sings “Tyrone” at his next Joe’s Pub Show.
Jessica: Ziwe’s response, “I guess the last time you appropriated a Black woman was right now,” took me out. Love to see a bit come full circle. It was Josh admitting to his lack of diversity in sexual tastes that did it for me. This is what makes Josh one of my favorite guests so far! The willingness to say, “Hey this is what I am working on. It’s not great, but I am going to face it and do it anyway.” This unfortunately is very hard for white people, so they would rather post their receipts to mutual aid funds, NAACP, or jail funds. The work starts with you.
Chris: Sometimes we’ll get guests who seem like nice people who clearly have never interrogated their relationship to race and racism to this degree, and it seems Josh has definitely taken the time to wrestle with the destructive nature of whiteness and the ways in which he consciously and subconsciously contributes to whiteness via his sexual proclivities. Is it nice to hear? No. But, in the words of Jimmy Baldwin, “nothing can be changed until it is faced.” Josh also demonstrated that willingness to wade into murky racial waters when he spoke at length about reparations. It honestly got a little academic for my dumb ass, but I appreciated it nonetheless. Questions like “should Black and brown people receive reparations?” have simple answers in theory (um, yes), but harder answers re: what it would actually look like in practice. (Remember when Miss Marianne Williamson was gonna set aside $500,000,000 in reparations for us… God bless that kooky-ass white lady.) Josh has taken some time to think about these issues.
Jessica: Josh qualitatively LOVES, not likes, the cultural contributions of Black people. I am so happy that Josh named Five Queer Black heroes of his! “Jimmy Baldwin” (as if Josh and him are good friends), Octavia Butler, Zadie Smith. Such a great list of names. Also, we finally got a comedian who reads! I am so happy. This is my kink, comedians who read. And that’s on “Clack.”
Chris: Tearing up thinking about the fact that Josh is a comedian who’s touched a book before.
Jessica: When Ziwe asked Josh if he would lay down his life for Black Liberty and he said “Aren’t Black people already dying for it?” I screamed at the top of my lungs. Yes, we have been fighting and dying over here, while y’all are tweeting about “your right to not get fired.” Also, “Can a white in the comments please be my secretary?” Iconic.
Chris: Hope the white secretary compiling the list of Black people Josh is sending reparations to notices that I dropped the wrong handle at first. Also, while I would never take credit for anything Ziwe does on her show, I will say that Black History Test got a little update after we suggested it last week… just putting that out there. Honestly, it was a great mix of the oldies (MLK) and some new hits (welcome to the stage, Ida B. Wells). Very fresh.
Jessica: I will absolutely take credit and also ride Ziwe’s coattails. The updated historical figures list kept me on my toes! It was a good plot twist. And we got a little extra education from Josh with the B. Wells NAACP fact. Still not enough love for Assata Shakur, if you ask me. “I have advocated and I still advocate revolutionary changes in the structure and in the principles that govern the United States,” Shakur wrote. “I advocate self-determination for my people and for all oppressed inside the United States. I advocate an end to capitalist exploitation, the abolition of racist policies, the eradication of sexism, and the elimination of political repression. If that is a crime, then I am totally guilty.” I think about this quote all the time.
Chris: Josh was very proud of himself for not having notes, which was like okay, that’s nice and all but you still don’t know who Thurgood Marshall is so calm down. Also, somebody needs to start a GoFundMe to get that boy a ring light so he doesn’t have to use his computer to light himself anymore! Ziwe learning that Ida B. Wells helped found the NAACP was a lesson to us all. We all have the potential to learn something new, even from a Tall White Gay with one (1) Black enemy.
How many Black friends does she have? “Jasmine… Rachel…”
How many Ziwe times did Ziwe lean in? 5
Chris: Taylor… where to begin. Honestly, I’m still processing this interview and will be thinking about it for months (years?) to come. I do want to start by commending Taylor for going on the show. She’s not a comedian and/or member of the absolutely gorgeous queer alt comedy scene, and it was clear she had never really seen the show before and didn’t know really what she was getting into. But she was a biracial contestant on the Bachelor, famous for its notoriously racist fanbase, so it’s no surprise that she’s brave.
Jessica: Taylor gets mad points for coming on here. When her screen loaded she looked like a lost tourist. But, honestly, I would be more scared of going on The Bachelor than going on Ziwe’s Instagram Live Show. I hear the producers are Grand Wizards and they suck out all Black girls’ magic.
Chris: When she said “we wouldn’t be a vibe,” re: Josh? An absolute drag that did make me cackle. Maybe she should do improv! Someone get Taylor Nolan a UCB scholarship ASAP [receives phone call] Hello? UCB actually isn’t a thing anymore? Oh, okay good to know. [hangs up phone] Someone get Taylor a Second City scholarship.
Jessica: Yeah, not sure that place is going to be any better. In my notes, I have this written down in all caps: DEREK CONSIDERS HIMSELF A PERSON OF COLOR.
Chris: That was confusing for me because she said her boyfriend Derek considers himself to be a person of color because his mom is Brazilian. Brazil, as many astute commenters noted, is not a race, but a nationality — there are white Brazilians and Black Brazilians (and other races of Brazilians as well). After a cursory Google search, on first glance it appears that Derek is indeed the white kind of Brazilian.
This gets at the heart of what made Taylor’s interview so compelling. We waded into some new territory re: identity politics. Taylor has a white mother and a Black father. Ziwe asked Taylor “do you identify as a Black woman?” to which Taylor responded that she identifies as biracial. “I’m half Black and half white,” says Taylor. Over the course of the interview Ziwe further explores Taylor’s racial identity and people in the comments had a lot of opinions on this, but is it really for them to decide? Identity is a personal thing. I think we would all agree that you can’t force someone to identify in a certain way (it’s sort of the bedrock of the LGBTQ community), so who are we to say that Taylor is Black if she doesn’t identify in that way? Derek Peth as a person of color though… I draw the line there.
Jessica: Identity politics is tricky no doubt. I am glad to see Ziwe and Taylor discuss it. People in the comments really went off during this interview. Identity is a personal thing that has layers. Your identity isn’t just about your physical appearance. It’s who raised you. Where you lived. What you ate. Taylor moved away from the entire Black side of her family, it makes sense that she wouldn’t fully identify with something she didn’t grow up seeing. This brings me to an important question Ziwe asked Taylor, an aspiring sexologist: Do different races have different nutting styles? I didn’t go to school for that, but I wanna say maybe?
Chris: I’m gonna go with “depends on the time of year.” When Taylor said sex addiction wasn’t real, I was like um… I’m no doctor (I’m simply a doctor’s wife), but I feel Eric Benet, Michael Fassbender, and David Duchovny would like a word re: the existence of sex addiction. This might be bad, but I would love to see a ’90s-style tight five from a terrible stand up comedian that’s like “Black people be nutting like this [demonstration]” while “White people be nuttin like this [demonstration]” It would put “Women be shoppin” to shame.
Jessica: I really appreciate Taylor’s shoutout to therapy! I just got a therapist. Everyone needs one, and Black people especially deserve easy access to care. Not to be shady, but I hope The Bachelor provides therapy for these women. You can always tell how racist a show is by how many “Good Ol’ Christian country girls” are in your cast. Not surprised at all that she got hit with the hard “er.”
Chris: Clearly the girl’s got trauma from that experience, on top of the baggage of having to navigate the world as a mixed race person. When she said Bachelor fans would regularly call her the n-word with the hard R? Cue my jaw dropping to the floor. We forget how casually cruel people can be, especially on the internet, especially to people they don’t know that they often feel morally superior to (read: reality dating show contestants). I actually watched some of Taylor’s season of The Bachelor (I’m not in Bachelor Nation I just thought Nick Viall was hot) and she did get a pretty rough edit and was absolutely coded as being uppity like Ziwe said. Also, what she said about her “nemesis” on The Bachelor, Corinne, was so true. Corinne was the pinnacle of white privilege — a 25-year-old blonde woman who was celebrated for having a babysitter who made her “pasta with cheese sauce.” Seeing that as a biracial woman who’s getting a racist edit must fuck you up real bad. It fucked me up real bad.
Jessica: I don’t watch the show but I feel like I’ve seen it. You know what I mean? Karen’s favorite dish to bring to the potluck is pasta with cheese sauce. Reparations for me is making white women raise their own kids, cook their own food, and clean their own house. That would fuck them up. That would fuck them up real bad.
Chris: It’s tough because Taylor is someone who was divorced from her own Blackness at young age through no fault of her own. She grew up with her white mother away from her Black father and relatives on that side of the family. She didn’t really confront the fact that she was biracial until she moved to South Carolina when she was 10 years old and experienced racism first hand. That’s obviously going to mess with one’s own self perception and relationship to Blackness and race. As a Black person who has at times felt not “Black” enough (whatever the fuck that means), I can only imagine how difficult it is for someone who is biracial and mostly grew up with the white side of their family to understand and reconcile their relationship with Blackness.
Jessica: This really resonated with me. I had a similar experience when I moved from Germany to Panama City, Florida. I got on the school bus and before my butt hit the seat someone called me the n-word with a hard R. I used to really struggle with being “Black enough” and then I came out. I realized being gay was about the Blackest thing to do. Taylor was divorced from her Blackness, which is why now I am formally inviting her to get remarried to us! We are powerful! Also, Ziwe freezing was straight out of the MOMA for me! Performance art.
Chris: The freeze was high art. It was absolutely Camp with a capital-C and also deserved the 2020 Oscar for Best Short Film. It was at once both hilarious and tough that of all people it happened to Taylor, a reality TV contestant, and not any of the seasoned comedians who have recently appeared on the show. The whole time I was thinking just riff girl! Fill the silence! Tell us about your day! Had the freeze happened with Josh we would have been more than entertained, but Taylor is not a comedian so she was just stuck not knowing what to do. She was helpless and vulnerable, and I think that ultimately added to my compassion for her during the interview.
Jessica: I know, poor Taylor just suffering, I thought she’d tell a knock-knock joke. And then Ziwe came back on, “Guys Instagram is tough.” “I’m not in STEM”! Campppppppp. Okay, now back on track. I think as a Black woman I am in control of my relationship to Blackness, that’s all mine. No one else’s business. Don’t police my Blackness. There’s a difference between a Black person being anti-Black, cc: Candace Owens, and a person journeying towards Blackness, cc: Taylor Nolan. Taylor is trying to figure out who she is in all this and I think that’s fair, especially after being raised in an environment that didn’t support it. I mean, Alexis Neiers already covered this, if white parents of Black children don’t educate themselves on Black issues that will 100 percent fuck up their kids.
Chris: We were definitely watching someone at the beginning of defining their relationship with Blackness and still working things out. We’ve got mixed-race women out here like Kamala Harris, making history by standing in her Blackness, to what happened with Doja Cat earlier this summer. It’s a complicated spectrum. And watching someone struggle with that on an Instagram Live is inherently interesting, but also painful and at times hard to watch. Ziwe did a great job of listening to Taylor and letting her speak her truth without trying to make her feel some sort of way about her answers. She showed her a lot of grace and I think we should all be more like that?
Jessica: Yes, we could all listen more before we react and label. I think arguing amongst ourselves keeps us distracted from talking about the real issues and the structural changes that need to happen.
Chris: I love that Ziwe changed her line of questioning as a response to Taylor’s answers. Once Taylor said she didn’t identify as Black, Ziwe was like okay, well then let’s do this: how many Black friends do you have? I do have to say, Taylor’s clearly a smart girl, but her lack of knowledge of Black history is deeper than my love of Stephen Sondheim. Which is to say, almost unfathomable.
Jessica: Right? The switch was seamless, because it’s about perception. Taylor grew up surrounded by whiteness and her answers highlighted that. It was painful to watch her not know anyone. Really girl? I mean she could have used Grace’s notes!
Chris: Also, we gotta talk about the comments, my favorite and least favorite part of the show. Some people are so, so funny and able to make jokes about the interview that feel funny and informative. Others miss the mark for me. Not to be an armchair psychologist, but we were clearly watching someone in a vulnerable position wrestle with trauma. Some of the comments re: Taylor felt like punching down to me. Wow, I simply can’t stop with the UCB references today.
Jessica: I LOVE the comments. During this show, however, I found them troll-y and tiresome. It’s the being really harmful when it’s a comedy show for me. It’s the speaking louder than the Black woman on her platform for me.
Chris: Exactly. We’re all working through our own shit, but very few of us choose to do so on a public platform like The Bachelor or Ziwe’s Instagram Live Show. Kudos to Taylor for being brave enough to let us in on her journey and brave enough to say that the best sex of her life was with a man she’s not currently dating. Sorry, Derek.