More specifically, though...well, I often post New Yorker clips here in order to simultaneously draw attention to interesting finds, and to poke fun at them. The ham-fisted, surreal racist advertisements from the '20s ARE funny in a disturbing, groan-inducing, "I can't believe anybody would have CREATED this" way...but not to everybody.
Well, here's one that isn't particularly funny, but is so sustained that I can't help posting it. Why isn't it funny? Because its roots aren't in some vaudeville strain of ethnic humour. It is, rather, far too serious.
At first I thought I could make fun of the "What're YOU looking at?" aspect of this "Armstrong Shoes" advertisement, but then I read the description.
Sambo, or is it Mose, craves to carry the luggage of the lady of yon descending foot. For Sambo, or Mose, has identified by its shoe a person of quality, generous to her servitors.See what I mean? This ad isn't about a cheap "black bellhop" gag. It's trying to be realistic. And that's ugly stuff.
"Body may be by Fisher," ruminates our hero, "but dem shoes am suttinly by Armstrong"...
...Sambo's perspicacity did not go unrewarded, you may be sure. That night he went home to Harlem richer by four bits.