Ziwe’s Instagram Live Show
On a very special episode of Ziwe’s Instagram Live Show, Ziwe chats with comedian Petey Abreu and special guest meme-maker Sebastian Tribbie. Petey, a Caribbean/Guyanese standup comic from the Bronx, might not have all of the most politically correct answers, but he comes from a place of pure love and genuine affection. Sebastian, a white meme maker who lives in London and landed a guest spot on the show after completing Ziwe’s Save The USPS challenge, has a more fraught time navigating his complicated past with race, reality television, and memes. Ziwe the Empress pivoted from friendly catch-up to Diane Sawyer on a dime as her guests showed just how wide the chasm is between living the Black experience and appropriating it.
How many Black friends does he have? N/A
How many times did Ziwe lean in? 5
Does he read? No, but “he be listening”
Jessica: Ziwe outfit is a ’70s dream, with classic neutral stripes. Petey’s vibes put me at ease immediately. I know we are about to chill smoke and talk shit. It’s the Caribbean love.
Chris: I know that, like me, he operates on island time and I love that about him. He has, for lack of a better phrase, huge older Black cousin/young Black uncle energy. He’s chill as fuck, will go on “a walk” with you on Thanksgiving, and obviously knows how to throw down.
Jessica: Yes! Petey is absolutely the uncle I’d casually try to be by at the BBQ for the smokes. Petey spoke about Black love being unconditional. Yes, I have mad love for Blacks, but it is not unconditional. You can’t treat me whatever way you want. If you call me chocolate queen I will jump out my flesh and haunt you for the rest of your life. My flavor of Black is fed up.
Chris: I feel that, however, I do love that Petey, our first straight Black man on the show since we’ve begun recapping, is all love all the time.
Jessica: This past three weeks I’ve started to really think, what do I love about the Black community? What do I love about us? I love how gay we are. I’ve said this before, but truly the Blackest thing I did was come out. Decolonize you sexuality! The QBIPOC community is home.
Chris: I also have wondered how I would answer some of these questions, specifically the ones that make white people nervous. What do I, Chris Murphy, qualitatively like about Black people? Would I even deign to answer the question? I started to sweat, but then I remembered, I’m Black! I can talk about my personal experience as a lifelong, forever member of the Black community, which is precisely what Petey did. When he described Black love as the love of his family supporting each other to make ends meet I was like damn … that’s some Black ass love.
Jessica: Petey will never call the police on a Black person and if Ziwe stabbed him he would “eat it.” I believe it. I believe that he would never call the cops on a Black person. I also believe that he would not call the cops on a “hot” Black woman that stabs him, ’cause his phone is out to get your number.
Chris: I also fully believe that Petey has never called the police, but I’m gonna call bullshit on all of these white guests who claim that they’ve never called the cops. White people famously love calling the cops. It’s their third favorite pastime after baseball and doing cocaine. I just don’t buy it. Also for all the white people out there, you aren’t immediately canceled (in my book) if you’ve ever called the cops. Context is important and there’s a big difference between calling the police because Black kids are having fun in a public space vs. calling the police because your life is in imminent danger. That being said, I’m obviously ACAB and believe we need to defund the police and implement anti-racist, community-based structures that protect rather than target the most vulnerable members of our society. But I do feel it might be okay to call the police if Ziwe stabbed you even though she is, as Petey continued to call her, an empress.
Jessica: Absolutely, context is key! I don’t believe the white people either. They are lying. They are always the first ones to say “call the cops.” Petey says that he is a self-rehabilitated fuck boi. Okay, so the first step: When someone doesn’t lead with how hard being non-monogamous is, I don’t trust it and I think you with the shits. You could never get me to take a THIRD unpaid job! Ha! Ya feel me? I think I’m going to need a femme co-sign here … that “self” part is making me nervous …
Chris: As someone who has had one (1) boyfriend in his life that he did cheat on (it was an accident!), and who has recently realized that maybe monogamy actually isn’t for necessarily for him and currently has a crush on a man that he’s been non-exclusively seeing for three years … I did feel seen in that moment. Again, Petey is a great example of a guest who is not trying to be perfect. Not everyone is the best version of themselves all the time and he very much understands that. He was a bird back in the day. He can admit that. Rather than change his behavior he’s chosen to change his circumstances, and admirably so!
Jessica: As a plant/dirt person I know what I’m about to say may sound contradictory, but I don’t consider Black women to be mothers of the earth. We are absolutely other-worldly, beautiful, magical aliens beings. But your mama? No ma’am. This very sentiment is what keeps y’all feeling owed Black femme love/affection/attention. We can not save you. You must save yourself.
Chris: Wow, the concept of the “nurturing Black woman” comes up in a big way in the next interview, but I’ll use this space to say … I don’t love it. The idea is very akin to the “Black Woman Will Save The U.S” narrative that was being proliferated after Michelle Obama gave her bomb-ass speech at the DNC this week. Black woman are not here to nurture or save you. Let them live their lives. Honestly, I should save this all for the next interview but it is what it is.
Jessica: Petey. Being single does not a non-monogamous make. You’re committed to the people that you are seeing. You must respect each relationship … as a relationship! That being said, I love his vibes. But he made me nervous with that nickname for corona and calling this stage of the pandemic “not crazy Ronnie times.” What? There’s still a pandemic and zero solutions for a safe way ahead. That’s crazy Ronnie times to me! Ya feel me?
Chris: I actually loved Crazy Ronnie Times. But I’ve been also been calling quarantine “quarquar” since day one. But all my comedy stems from deep, unresolved trauma.
Jessica: Okay, the name five white people section. “The devil.” Yooooooo when I tell you my old Southern ass SHOUTED in agreement when Petey said that! Damn I’m not even Christian and I felt that word.
Chris: The fact that the first white person that Petey named was George Washington told me everything I need to know. Petey doesn’t fuck with a lot of white people and I love that for him. Shout outs to his white friends, though. They must be cool as hell.
Jessica: I know so many white male comics. If I was on the show I think I’d just name past improv team members or open mic buddies.
Chris: Sadly, we have to add Petey to the ever-growing list of comics who don’t read. But happily, we can now start a subcategory of comics who don’t read, but “be listening.” Even though he doesn’t read (and he should!), I appreciated Petey’s reverence for James Baldwin. Has Petey read The Fire Next Time? No. But does he know it’s a bomb-ass, important book? Sure as hell. Also, slick move saying his favorite Black author was Ziwe. He’s a smart cookie.
Jessica: “I don’t be reading but I be listening.” I almost forgive Petey for not reading. But bruv, get an audiobook!
Chris: I hear Audible is great. Petey’s answers to the rapid-fire section were, in a word, iconic. Mad props for knowing who Assata Shakur was via Tupac. Also, I love that white people don’t know who Thurgood Marshall is but Petey knows because he had a court date in Thurgood Marshall’s courthouse during Black history month. Education doesn’t just come from schools sheeple! Genuinely thrilled to hear Petey, the childhood burglar, got away with whatever he did. The ancestors were looking down on him that day.
How many Black friends does he have? A lot
How many times did Ziwe lean in? 7
Does he read? Not in the last six years
Chris: Okay … Sebastian, for me, is Josh Sharp’s tether. White, gay, and, if not tall, he’s at least brunette. In many ways, they represent the same community. Different shades of the same color, if you will.
Jessica: As for tethers, I’m team Josh. I haven’t seen a guest this nervous. It’s interesting what nerves reveal.
Chris: Yeah, the nerves were on the surface for this one. This makes sense considering that he was chosen after completing Ziwe’s Save The USPS challenge, but also is confusing considering that he had to complete the challenge and volunteer as tribute in order to do the show… What were your intentions for going on Ziwe’s Instagram Live, Sebastian? Were they genuine or for clout? [Ziwe lean in.]
Jessica: Sebastian’s nerves revealed that he thinks our “Race is supreme” when it comes to comedy. Okay, I’ll give him that. Black femmes do reign supreme. But then he turned around and gave “Nene Leakes” as an example of superior Black comedy. What in the Coca-Cola can?! Out of all the Black femmes you could have named you pick a Nene Leakes? Does she even go here? Does she do stand up? I gotta drop a list of black femme comedians:
• Issa Rae
• Nicole Byers
• Natasha Rothwell
• Michaela Coel
I’m looking at Sebastian wondering when he gonna realize that his whole mental construct of Black femme comes from entertainment. This a pattern with white gays. You love us because Black femmes make you feel good. You take, take, take and never return the same sense of “nurturing” back.
Chris: As an avid watcher of the Real Housewives, I know that Nene actually does do stand up and that it’s nothing to write home about, but that isn’t the point. My problem with Sebastian is that in this interview it seems like his only relationship to Black people is through Bravo/reality TV and memes. Both of which are fun in their own right (I’m a huge fan of both, actually!) but are not the basis of Black culture.
Jessica: Exactly. The internet isn’t the basis of Back culture. As an avid Real Housewives of Any City watcher, I am ashamed that I didn’t know Nene did stand up! But also I’m not surprised the stand up is meh. Good stand up requires a level of vulnerability that Mrs. Leakes doesn’t have.
Ziwe: “Name five Black-owned businesses.”
Sebastian:“Can they be restaurants?”
Me: “Make it make sense.”
This is quite possibly the easiest question in the interview. Why is my chest so tight? Shout out to Red Rooster! I live right around the corner. I am a Harlem girl.
Chris: Yeah, I didn’t love Sebastian’s reasoning there, not gonna lie. It felt like he was thinking well, BET is Black and has Black in its title so it must be Black-owned. I mean, he’s correct, but still that didn’t sit right with me. Red Rooster is dope, though. Shout out to that fine establishment.
Jessica: The entertainment choices are also weak! Tyler Perry?!? Really? I mean … he probably does draft his scripts from memes, but come on, girl. Tyler Perry was recently quoted boasting about how he is the only person in his writers’ room. Where are the jobs you said he created?
Chris: Like many Black people, my feelings about Tyler Perry are too complicated and nuanced to express in a singular blog post. I recognize his achievements while acknowledging and (gasp) even believing that he might be a net negative for “the culture” writ large. And the fact that he refuses to hire writers on his multiple television series is a level of megalomania I can barely fathom. It’s very gate-keepy to me. Dude, you’ve got the money and the acclaim. Hire a goddamn writer. Change a Black creative’s life. And while you’re at it, hire a new wig person as well cuz those things are busted.
This brings me to my larger issues with Sebastian, though. While it is fair to call Tyler Perry Studios a Black-owned business, it cements the fact that basically everything Sebastian referenced throughout the interview was rooted in caricature of Black culture, rather than compassion. It honestly reminds me of the meme-ification of Breonna Taylor. I’m not saying Sebastian engaged in that and I will not be checking his social media to see whether or not he did because I do not care to know. All I’m saying is that Black culture is so much more than just the broadest, quote-unquote funniest, and often most stereotypical portrayals of us in popular culture. You can love BET and Nene Leakes and even Tyler Perry and still have a deeper, more nuanced understanding of Black people. It doesn’t have to be an either/or situation.
Jessica: Mmmm. Also, I bet after this interview, Sebastian will be able to find an airbrush artist for those hoodies. Also, I can’t with this Fear Factor energy. This is a comedy show. This is an opportunity to laugh at yourself. Be a little vulnerable, learn something new. White people worry so much about being called racist that they overcorrect right into racism. Sebastian is so nervous about being called a racist that he’s interrupting Ziwe! White people in the back: welcome to the conversation, calm down, be quiet, and listen.
Chris: Again, not to pit two men against each other (that would be gauche), but Petey was so open to learning something new and asked Ziwe a bunch of questions (see: Ida B Wells, the foremother of Ancestry.com). Sebastian often interrupted Ziwe and began a sentence by saying, “What you have to understand is,” which was so defensive that it made me cringe. That being said, at the end of the interview he asked Ziwe some questions and seemed to loosen up, so there was some change over time. Look, I’m scraping for the positives here mostly because I don’t want Sebastian to cyber-bully me like he cyber-bullied Ashanti.
Jessica: Speaking of bullying, Sebastian tweets, “A group of Black girls is a Fashion Nova.” I want to take this person to court. Late Night With Judge Milly court.
Chris: Look, we’ve all made bad jokes (heck, I’m still making ’em! badum ching!), but accepting that is not really the point of what we’re doing here. Acceptance is step one of dismantling systemic racism and oppression. We’ve got to go further and unpack the societal and cultural systems at play that a) made Sebastian think of that joke and b) allowed Sebastian to feel comfortable making that joke without criticism in the first place.
Jessica: Right. I love how Sebastian absolutely will not name his Black friends, except for his Black Bravo friend. Does he get all his Black friends from Bravo too??
Chris: I love how Sebastian would not name his Black friends until Ziwe questioned their existence. Then he was like no, I swear they’re real here are their addresses and Social Security numbers.
Jessica: As a gay Black femme, I find it really interesting that both guests talked about the feeling Black women give them. I can tell you that I am not “giving you that nurturing vibe.” Black women have been and are still enslaved to nurture all y’all. How y’all don’t see the irony of calling us nurturing or caring is beyond me. We are people, who are not to be defined by how we make you feel.
Chris: Yeah, I mean it was kind of wild watching this interview and then mere moments later, having Megan Thee Stallion go live and call Tory Lanez out for shooting her. Even after he shot her, she still tried to protect him by not initially cooperating with the police even though he literally shot her with a gun multiple times. There’s this expectation that Black women will nurture us, make us laugh, and save the world all at the same time. But when Black women are in danger, who’s there for them?
Jessica: The quickest way a comedian tells on themselves is by blaming the audience for not getting the joke or the meme or the tweet. It’s wasn’t funny, bruv. Wait, I have an idea. White gays love astrology. Sebastian reads charts. He should break down systematic racism according to signs. Sebastian, you’re welcome, I just boosted your content.
Chris: You should charge him for that.
Jessica: Thank you, I will. While we’re at it, let’s get into the Ashanti of it all. Sebastian, being an official expert on Ashanti’s brand, was able to make an astute statement about her outfit. He was able to determine that her outfit of choice was outside the singer’s “comfort zone,” thus looking like a 50 cent Cardi B.
^That’s a joke and you may use it as a template.
Chris: Structurally, that joke slaps.
Jessica: During the Black love section, I thought that Sebastian was going to say “I am not the biggest Kayne fan,” not “I’m not the biggest Virgil fan.” You know writing these recaps force my little gay Black head out of my bubble. Like, I didn’t know that y’all haven’t gotten the memo on Kayne. “Kayne is in timeout until he can prove to us that he know how to act right.” —Counsel of Black femmes
Chris: Everyone is allowed to cherish whatever moments they hold dear, and hearing this was an important example of Black love for Sebastian made me think okay at least he has an example even if at the same time I was Betty Gabriel in Get Out thinking “no no no no no.”
Jessica: Get out, indeed. When Sebastian started raising his voice, talking about Amy Schumer’s book, I teleported back to being a babysitter. Entitled white kid in an appropriative outfit yelling at me about the “way they feel” and “you can’t be mad that what I think.” “Shoutout to being a proud racist.” I couldn’t have said it better.
Chris: Clearly, Sebastian is trying to do the work and he’s been through the ringer — I mean, we had so much to talk about that we didn’t even get to him admitting to saying the n-word because he was watching Tokyo Toni’s reality show, the innate racism of Tauruses, or Buckwheat as a foundational Black comedy text. At the end of the day, we saw two different comedy shows this episode, one with someone comfortable in his skin speaking about his lived experiences, and the other with someone who has more work to do to figure out his relationship to his source material.