Ethnically diverse comedians headline ‘You’ve Crossed the Line’ performance

Slinging jokes in today’s world, comedians are required to cross the line, but at whose expense? Blacks? Jews? Gays? Comedy, diversity and freedom of speech will merge into one major experiment at Salve Regina when “You’ve Crossed the Line: Comedy, Diversity and Freedom of Speech” is presented on Wednesday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. at Bazarsky Lecture Hall as part of the university’s celebration of Multicultural Education Week.

Free and open to the public, “You’ve Crossed the Line” will feature comedians of all persuasions, races, colors, and religions, including Rain Pryor (bi-racial/Jewish), daughter of the legendary comedian Richard Pryor who, along with George Carlin and Lenny Bruce repeatedly crossed the traditional comedy line, redefining the genre and bringing it into an entirely new realm of what was acceptable joke material. Other comedians performing Wednesday will include co-executive producer Deb Farrar-Parkman (African-American), Ilene Fischer (Lesbian/ Jewish); Tissa Hami (Muslim); Wes Hazard (African-American); and Raj Sivaraman (Indian-American).

The comedians will perform in front of a panel of Salve Regina judges, as well as an audience comprised of students, professors and community members. The judges will lead the review of each comedian and set. In a separate segment, comedians will provide their commentary on current events. A portion of the audience will have remote polling clickers, which will help identify the success or failure of the comedy and the commentary with respect to whether a comedian has “crossed the line.”

After the show, the audience will engage in discussion with the comics and the judges about the topics handled throughout the event.

“You’ve Crossed the Line” is the brainchild of entertainer, producer, director and professor Teja Arboleda, who will host the show on Wednesday. Arboleda’s Telly-Award winning PBS documentary, “Crossing the Line: Multiracial Comedians,” produced a tremendous amount of stir in nationwide print, television, radio and new media. He is of African-American / Native-American / Filipino-Chinese, German descent, who grew up in Japan and has adopted two ethnically Chinese daughters.

The production will offer a timely and responsible challenge: education through an entertainment lens. Shows like In Living Color, Mad TV, Saturday Night Live, and similar sketch-based comedy shows over the years have dealt with difficult subject matter such as race and sexual orientation, but have not had the forum or platform to engage in essential, academic dialogue in real time. “You’ve Crossed the Line” will stay within the confines of acceptable humor and entertainment, but will push the envelope to generate insightful and beneficial conversations.

Judges for the evening will include Khalil Habib, associate professor of philosophy; G. Wayne Miller, Pell Center Visiting Fellow; Sean O’Callaghan, assistant professor of Religious and Theological Studies; and Mimi Mutoni Mutanguha, graduate fellow.

Bazarsky Lecture Hall is located in O’Hare Academic Center on Ochre Point Avenue.