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. no name

    You are judged by the company you keep. My mother use to tell me that when i was a child to let me know if i did not mix with bad people i would not be a bad person, but if i did i would be judged by the conpany i kept.
    I felt her judgement was a good one because i turned out fine and i did make sure i did not get mixed up the bad crowd.

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

    That is where Barack is coming from. He ahs no experience whatsoever and he has close indecent friends like Jeremiah Wright, Bernie mac. All liberals are blind and they want this man to come to White House. I hope he is rejected straight away. You cannot expect any corrections my friends. wake up...Vote John McCain

    July 12, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  3. just another whiner

    bernie mac looks like a pimp.

    July 12, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  4. Maria

    Dag, now even Bernie Mac has to conform to the Obama world...

    July 12, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  5. Josh

    The man is comedian. His job is to make laughter, often times by utilizing social conventions and off-colour homour. Maybe it wasn't the best joke, but are why are people suprised?

    July 12, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  6. Dee Dee

    Strange thoughts, Apollo stuff and Nightlife stuff is not ready for Presidential Prime Time Stuff.
    That was the week of Phil, Jesse and Bernie.
    Let's regroup and move forward.

    July 12, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  7. Foreign Observer

    Perhaps CNN could be troubled to get the joke right....

    July 12, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  8. Jeffer

    Remember the fuss made over Whoopi Goldberg at a Kerry event? Apparently Obama didn't...

    July 12, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  9. Former democrat

    Two faced Obama at his best everyone. Say whatever you need to for politics. Just another typical politician with only fancy rhetoric, but no ideas.

    Unless he chooses Hillary as his VP, I'll be forced to vote McCain so at least I will know what I'm getting.

    McCain '08

    Clinton '12

    July 12, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |


    July 12, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  11. Matt

    What's "par for the course", Patty? Please explain.

    July 12, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  12. Molly

    WHY does obama have such "colorful" Friends?????
    Seems like all his guys are messing up
    Rev. Wright, Jackson, Mack – maybe he needs to find some new friends.
    Obama was first in line to demand Imus be fired – for the Exact comment – my how Funny!!!

    July 12, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  13. Enough Already!

    Please......It's just comedy! I hear worse from the neighbor kids, and they are 5 and 7.

    July 12, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  14. Jeffrey McCune

    Smart people....."ho" can be ungendered..not specifically referring to a woman....particularly when in this joke Mac was clearly referring to himself and his wife as $100,000 hoes. If we continue to make it be about women, we reinforce the idea that the only plausible "hoe" is a woman. That position is foolish. Maybe the real issue is that the term "ho" is derogatory and inappropriate at a campaign event, which has historically been a space of clean acts and clean language.

    July 12, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  15. M Paul

    Comedians are comedians , pastors are pastors and we don't confuse them with civil servants or politicians.

    July 12, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  16. Barbara-California

    "Why would you expect anything different from a black comedian?"

    July 12, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  17. willowood

    What in the heavens name was Bernie Mac thinking? We are running a Presidential campaign, trying to lift the level of medicocrity, trying to establish a civility that shows the world we are better than the Bush era. These were comments for a midnite strip club show. He knows better, but chose to let this vulgar side do the talking. I'm really offended for those families attending and myself. I love his TV program, but what gave him the thought that this would be appreciated as HUMOR? Distasteful and Disgusting.... Perhaps the campaigns need to "vet" the act before showing!

    July 12, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  18. Michael

    Don't these people know who Bernie Mac is? What were they expecting?

    July 12, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  19. Z

    Was B.O. or his support and management team expecting Bernie to reinvent his comedic delivery and find a new niche, or was this knowingly or unknowingly done to make an example of someone.
    Keep in mind, "It is Entertainment. It is Comedy
    It may or may not reflect or be an example of who someone is on a personal level.
    As a 14 year old I took Pryor, Carlin, Foxx, Dangerfield, and others as Entertainers who probably had and seem to have natural comedic abilities that could be developed, and use enough common sense, observation notes to develop material, and analysis to figure out what it is that the public, MEN & WOMEN, wants to hear and will pay for, TO BE ENTERTAINED..
    No one comedion appeals to everyone, anymore than actors who play a comedic or dramatic, viciously violent part.
    I have never, and would never think or refer to woman as Ho's or any other degrading expletive.
    Despite exposure of the opposite, which my father would have likely objected to @ that age, by entertainers and those around me in the real world, I would no more use, think, or practice what I heard or what I hear today, including rappers and rockers who were and are at times harshly and unfairly criticized for lyrical content that I did not, and will not live out in my own life, as though there influence is the only factor with impact to influence me, and no one around me to counter any bad influences or experiences as a 10 year old, 14 year old, or as an adult.
    I will agree, if I were Bernie, I would have tailored my performance to

    As my role model, Dad taught me to make better decisions, respect others as I do myself and want in return, and to always aspire and rise in Life no matter what goes on in and out of Entertainment or Politics.
    So, I'm in it be to be entertained and for the MUSIC that creates the party. The Dance. And the FUN, and in the case of Bernie Mac, Chapelle, and others, I'm in and will always be in it for the LAUGHTER!!!
    I will agree, that if I were Bernie, I might have tailored my performance and played it safe, although I might feel I'd be failing to use what most people would expect from me, that got be to where I was in the world of comedy.
    Nut that would have been like fronting and putting up a smoke screen, or censor to what got me to where Bernie is today. Would the corporations that sign and profit fom Bernie, who likely donate some candidate and party , really b4e surprised to what he said?

    Some woman will come along one day, and break-out with a relentless form of "Back Atcha Boys" LIKE NEVER BEFORE as though it's been reinvented or made new again and will entertain the portion of the public that wants and pays for this type of entertainment/
    It's Entertainment. NOT politics.


    July 12, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  20. Lee

    This just goes to show that even while no matter where some blacks are that same ole "attitude" that Bill Cosby talks about is still there..sad, sad, sad!!!

    July 12, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  21. Educator in CT

    I still would like to know which church Senator Mcain goes to.
    Before this run, the last time he went to church was years ago, now he's acting as if he is a regular church goer....PLEASE!!!!

    July 12, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  22. Floridian

    I don't even think I get the joke.

    July 12, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  23. AJ

    Bernie Mac's joke is about as funny as Obama's candidacy.

    July 12, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  24. Larry-Minn.

    normal for Obama,,stage something and then slam the guy afterwards...he probably gave him the joke to say, just for political reasons.

    July 12, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  25. Laura

    I think Bernie Mac's joke was just uncalled for. I mean, come on! This is a political fundraising event for goodness sakes. Leave the trashy jokes for the comedy clubs, please!

    July 12, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
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