The Watcher - Black and white

Dave Chappelle finds humor in racism

Usually racism isn’t funny, but it is absurd. Last season’s “Chappelle’s Show” hooked into that absurdity to make an edgy and hysterical sketch comedy show that’s strength is in its scathing view of race relations. And the second season, premiering Wednesday, Jan. 21, at 10:30 p.m. (Comedy Central), is as sharp and fearless as the first.

Last year the show debuted with a sketch about a blind black man who is a leader in the white supremacist movement. It’s a head-scratcher, so it bears repeating: a blind black man leading the white supremacist movement — that is, of course, until he discovers that he is black. Then he promptly kills his wife for being a “nigger lover.”

Hold up: Was that the n-word? Chappelle uses it all the time. Wait until you meet the Niggar family, a 1950s sitcom-style white family whose last name just happens to be Niggar. It’s just a word, right? Doesn’t matter, right? Chappelle’s message isn’t subtle: Why does that word make everyone so uncomfortable?

The new season premiere tackles mixed-race celebrities with a racial draft. Modeled after sports drafts, delegates representing major racial groups — blacks, whites, Asians and Jews — get to select which celebrities will be a member of their race. Halle Berry, Lenny Kravitz, Tiger Woods ... everyone’s up for grabs.

Ridiculous, isn’t it? You can’t just pick a person’s race, can you? Is race determined by blood? Or is it determined by behavior? Again, Chappelle’s not subtle. He’s more of a smack-it-up, flip-it, rub-it-in-your-face kind of point-maker. Sometimes it takes a smart comedian to point out how ridiculous the rest of us are.

Not all of the sketches are social commentary. Many are random silliness, such as how slow motion makes just about anything look better, from music videos to dramatic sports montages. Where does Chappelle come up with this stuff? Well, he was the star of Half Baked.

On that stoned note, bong tokes may have sparked the creation of low-budget DVD fighting series Kaiju Big Battel: Terebi Sento (Ventura Distribution). Clearly a nod to Japanese monster movies and American pro-wrestling, this bizarre collection of intergalactic fights has the charm and skill of homemade movies, but with better packaging.

Apparently, these monsters have been waging war on each other for ages (who knew?), but a Kaiju commissioner oversees these battles to ensure that Earth isn’t lost in the crossfire. A commentator and a ref who looks like an extra from the Beastie Boys “Sabotage” video offer remarks between fights. And just like real sports announcers, they get redundant and annoying.

The monsters rock in that I-made-my-Halloween-costume-myself kind of way, and they’re much more imaginative than Godzilla. My favorite is Kung-fu Chicken Noodle, a disgruntled soup can, but evil Dr. Cube, whose head is a cardboard box with a mean face drawn on it, is a close second.

The story lines are as soap operatic as those found in the WWE, with a grudge match between tag teams Los Plantanos (giant plantains from Earth) and Team Space Bug (giant bugs from space). There’s even a baby-daddy match after a female wrestler gives birth in the squared circle. The moves aren’t executed with excellence, but watching the glorified mascots navigate their costumes is amusing anyway.