Interviewed on the Today show on BBC Radio 4, Enfield discussed performing as Nelson Mandela and an Indian man in past sketches and said: “I wouldn’t do it now, but I don’t think I regret it.”
He added that there should be a “conversation” about applying black or brown makeup for a comedy role, particularly when it comes to satirizing public figures. Enfiled said if British chancellor Rishi Sunak became prime minister, he would “find it difficult that I would not be allowed to play him because of the color of his skin.”
He added, however, that some blackface portrayals are far from appropriate. “Obviously, Al Johnson or G H Elliot, who played the Chocolate Coloured Coon in the 1930s — they perpetuated the myth of the happy negro who was just very happy to sing under the crack of the whip, the American whip or the British imperial bayonet and obviously that’s deeply offensive and always will be,” he said.
Enfield is best known for sketch shows including Harry Enfield & Chums, and plays Prince Charles in The Windsors, which is shown on Channel 4 in the UK and Netflix in the U.S. Netflix has taken a tough stance on blackface comedy in recent days, removing shows including Little Britain and The Mighty Boosh.
Black comedian Ava Vidal was also interviewed as part of the BBC discussion with Enfield. She said blackface is not acceptable in any circumstances, adding that it “normalizes dehumanization.”
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