July 13th, 2008
10:20 AM ET
10 years ago

Obama camp rebukes Bernie Mac over joke

The Obama campaign said Mac's joke was inappropriate.

The Obama campaign said Mac's joke was inappropriate.

(CNN) - Bernie Mac made a surprise appearance at a Barack Obama fundraising event Friday evening - but given heckling from the crowd and a rebuke from the Illinois senator's campaign for an off-color joke, the comedian may wish he'd just stayed home.

Introducing Obama at the high-dollar fundraising event in Chicago, Mac delivered a 10-minute standup routine during which he joked about sexual promiscuity and referred to women as "hos."

"My little nephew came to me and he said, 'Uncle, what's the difference between a hypothetical question and a realistic question?"' Mac said toward the end of his routine. "I said, I don't know, but I said, 'Go upstairs and ask your mother if she'd make love to the mailman for $50,000."'

"Hypothetically speaking, we should have $100,000. But realistically speaking we live with two hos," Mac said, delivering the joke's punchline.

Some attendees of the $2,300 per-person event immediately registered their displeasure with Mac's joke, and asked that he leave the stage.

"It's not funny. Let's get Barack on," one man shouted.

Mac introduced the Democratic presidential candidate shortly after and Obama called the comedian a "great friend." The Illinois senator also joked that Mac needs to "clean up [his] act."

"We can't afford to be divided by race. We can't afford to be divided by region or by class and we can't afford to be divided by gender, which by the way, that means, Bernie, you've got to clean up your act next time," he said. "This is a family affair. By the way, I'm just messing with you, man."

But the campaign issued a statement shortly after the event that was decidedly more serious in its condemnation of Mac's comments.

"Senator Obama told Bernie Mac that he doesn't condone these statements and believes what was said was inappropriate," campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (790 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    Guess he had never heard Bernie's comedy before? Kind of like the ol Rev Wright thing....use um till you can abuse um. Obama was once again trying to play both sides and slide down the middle. Of course ask the well known very black comic to speak....that way we will appeal to the African Americans....then when he says something TOTALLY IN CHARACTER AS A COMIC...then slap his wrist and thereby appeal to the worried white voters....see I am strong enough to stand up to my own base...wow I must be so filled with integrity. What a load. This nitwit is so transparent it is mind numbing. How many flip flops? How many broken promises? and how many under the bus tossings will it take for people to see how shallow this guy is? Don't say we didn't tell you. Maybe McCain will select Colin Powell as his running mate....then what will black America do?

    July 12, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  2. Vic Onyango

    Thats True Barack , he has to clean up his act when it comes to family matters now. America is one big family and we can't afford to be divided anymore because we are also bring the world together.
    One love + One world + Understanding = Peace throught the WORLD.

    TO SHINE YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO CLEAN OUT THAT SPOT OF DIRT RIGHT AWAY SO YOU DON'T COME BACK LATER WHEN ITS ATTRACTED MORE DIRT TO YOUR PLATE ......and yes that's why we love you barack you tell it the way it is !! Some think you are flip flopping but we don't because there will always be issues where we "agree to disagree " and vice versa. All in all we sit down and talk about to come up with a solution for change .
    Go Barack Obama " Woud Ja Luo"

    July 12, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  3. War

    OK now all the racist people come out and blame Obama..

    July 12, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  4. pannie

    go upstairs sonny and ask mommy if the milk man left her his cream

    July 12, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  5. BBG

    Man, forget Obama. Bernie Mac is an awesome comedian, and Obama shoulda just been honored that he would open for him. Any person of any age that was there has heard worse things in their day-to-day life, I'm sure.

    July 12, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  6. PeriSoft

    Jeez. Forget the off-color – Bernie should have been sheep-hooked off the stage just for using that ten-years-ago joke. Plus, either CNN screwed up the quote, or he screwed up the joke – he says to go ask 'your mother and sister'; otherwise the $100k makes no sense.

    So, epic fail for Mr. Mac on all counts.

    July 12, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  7. Ramona

    WOW! Amazing how society in part, has gotten so accepting of such poor judgment that this comedian didn't see how dis-tasteful that would be. I used to work in a comedy club, and couldn't believe what people thought was funny. Then I would get up and go to church the next morning. Just wasn't right. And isn't right. Poor Barack for having to figure out an appropriate response to that with literally no time to think about it! Way to go Sen Obama. You are wonderful. Keep up the great thinking on your feet. You have my 100% support.

    July 12, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  8. Tom

    That's an old joke... and yes, it IS funny.

    Too many people are thin-skinned.

    July 12, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  9. Ed

    Welcome to the world of double-standards that exist within any minority. There are many who believes its ok for members of their own minority group to use racial slurs and inappropriate language about their women, but its a mortal sin for anyone else to use them. I'm surprised he didn't drop the N-bomb too.

    July 12, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  10. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    I seem to remember Bush doing a skit where he couldn't find WMDs, while thousands were dying because of the lack of credibility in that premise of WMDs.

    But, Bernie Mac told an urban joke in an urban setting where nobody got hurt, and that's a big deal?

    Inappropriate, yes, but no where near as inappropriate as lampooning soldiers dying for yours and your pals personal business agenda!!!!!!!

    And quite frankly, the racist, vulgar, anti-Obama bumper stickers showing up in Texas are more of a concern – from the party of family values!!!!

    July 12, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  11. William, from Cali!

    A joke is a joke; meant to be taken, as such, I think, "some people"; in this Election process, just need to "chill out". They are too "sensitive", in many instances, and they need to "relax", instead of; "overreacting."

    July 12, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  12. Horace Chamberlain

    This is what happens when we let Canadians run for office.

    Mo' nakins, indeed.

    July 12, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  13. Meggan

    Whatever happened to a little thing called proof reading ? The article cannot really be taken with such a careless mistake. Bernie Mac should just stick to being a comedian, instead of making such a fool of himself when trying to be a public speaker.

    July 12, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  14. Mike

    I seriously can't believe Obama is even this close to the Presidency. I ask that all people read Faith of My Fathers by John McCain and review both of their records. I'm typically an independent voter and I truly believe McCain may end up being the greatest President of all time when elected.

    July 12, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  15. Truth B Told

    Come on Bernie! How Can you make those types of Jokes with kids around! He never talked like that on his show! Have you ever heard of Time & Place??? Well Learn it!

    Oh Boy and Jessie has the nerve to say Obama talks down to black people??? If things like this happens it's no wonder Obama has to make comments that unknowingly offends some black people! It's because some black people (Don't take out of context plz) know in some way or another they can recognize some traits in themselves. Which goes for ALL the races in the WORLD!!!

    Time and Place People, Time and Place...

    Obama 08

    July 12, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  16. JD

    Imus (rightly) lost his job. Will Bernie Mac?

    Obama – you were 'just messing with him, man?' Why? This is Presidental quality and backbone?

    July 12, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  17. Snadram

    Can't wait until fitty cent makes his endorsement.

    July 12, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  18. Rosetta

    Mac's joke was inappropriate,,,,,,,,now you know you need your but kicked!!!

    July 12, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  19. Lo

    Anyone who has watched Bernie Mac for years would know what his comedy is about. You can not ask for the man to support and introduce, and expect him to be something he is not. This was a error on Obama's campaign, if they want political correctness select someone safe. Allow Bernie to be Bernie, he still has my admiration for being Bernie Mac.

    July 12, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  20. Rez

    Sn. Obama is becoming more and more disconnected from the Black community. I'm not a fan of Bernie mac, nor am I suggesting he is on the level of George Carlin, but would he have told the late Carlin to "clean up his act"?

    July 12, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  21. Kyle Indianapolis, Indiana

    watch the typos, its not "Senstor Obama"

    OBAMA 08!!

    July 12, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  22. Chris11

    So basically in person Obama tries to diffuse the situation because he was fully aware of the inappropriateness of Mac's statements, however in the end we can see that Jesse Jackson must have already gotten ahold of him because he was lacking in what he obviously needed by saying "I'm messing with you" in the end. However, we are supposed to believe his full condonement of a statement after he didn't take a stand in the moment? I don't know, but it seems like this guy always tries to please everyone, which in the end just makes everyone questioning him.

    July 12, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  23. Down with Obama

    Whats the matter CNN, are the comments not in favor of Obama????

    Is that why there is only one so far. I know others have commented!!!

    July 12, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  24. JonRoss

    "By the way I am just messing with you, man". Once again this Donk has to be on both sides of an issue. Correctly condemn a foul mouth, and then say gee-shucks just kidding. Obama really scares me.

    July 12, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  25. sabrina

    Why in the world would he even say that! Come on ...Bernie! You said you're retired, if you want to do that go back on the road. Gezzzz

    July 12, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
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