Unit 7: Reconstruction & Post Reconstruction (1865 - 1935)

Class 3: Race & Popular Culture: The History of the Coon, Mammy, Pickaninny & Sambo

Video Short: Cotton and Chick Watts Black Minstrel Show Comedy

STUDY QUESTIONS (also in Study Guide)
  • How would you describe Cotton's outfit? What is the material made out of? How does his appearance relate to stereotypes of Black people?

  • When Cotton tells Chick that the Civil Service Examiner asked him, "How far was it from the sun to the moon?", he makes a funny remark as to how he answered. What is the significance of this question as it relates to getting a mail carrying job?
  • What is the difference between the way Cotton speaks versus how Chick speaks? What are the implications of this distinction?
  • When Chick Watts tells Cotton that she would pay him "all that he is worth," what was Cotton's reply? Who is the joke on?
  • What does Cotton do at the end of the skit? Why doesn't Chick stay to do it with him?
  • What types of audiences would find this comedy skit funny? ​