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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A is for allyship, but Amber Ruffin gets an F from her frazzled puppet mail carrier

Illustration for article titled A is for allyship, but Amber Ruffin gets an F from her frazzled puppet mail carrier
Screenshot: The Amber Ruffin Show

You’d think that late-night host, comedian, and all-around human joy-fountain Amber Ruffin wouldn’t have to sweat out her quarterly progress report on something as second-nature to the writer and comedian as responsible allyship. After all, she’s Amber! Host of Peacock’s prize entry in the late-night political comedy wars and person who can flay even the most brazen racists alive with a deceptively cheery smile! So the arrival of a puppet-y mail carrier in Ruffin’s slyly exuberant TV funhouse toting Amber and sidekick Tarik Davis’ report cards on being a thoughtful and active ally to various oppressed societal groups should be a dawdle. And it was—for Tarik.


With the purple, rod-operated mail carrier (introduced by Ruffin as Mr. Mailman) praising the all-smiles Davis for living a life dedicated to not just lip service but actual effort to fight bigotry and bias, Amber happily launched into a confident lecture to her viewers. “As the world gets more expansive, and we start to recognize more and more people and cultures that have been historically overlooked,” began Ruffin blithely, “it’s not just good to do the work, it’s necess—” That’s when Ruffin saw her own report card, listing her grades of three “C”s and a big, fat “F.” What the what?

As Ruffin sputtered about all her gay friends to refute her decidedly average grade in LGBTQ allyship, Mr. Mailman responded, with a puppet’s sagacity, that simply using your alleged LGBTQ friends as props rather than actively working to better their community is worth a “C,” at best. (Plus, as Davis noted, she has been watching a lot of Friends lately.) But a “C” in Black allyship? As Ruffin protested incredulously, “I’m Black!” Still, she did hesitate when asked to name just one Black person (Tarik picked Amber), and, as Davis repeated, she has been watching a lot of Friends lately.

Well, what about the “C” in international allyship? Citing a gratuitous Germany slam introducing this bit, the mail puppet could only note, shaking his wee head, “That was weird. It wasn’t even part of the monologue. You just did it in the middle of the show.” Damn. Well, what about class allyship, where Ruffin was aghast to have been given an inexplicable failing grade? After all, as she told Mr. Mailman, she gives money freely to New York’s homeless, does the reading, tips generously, and even walks the dog of the little old lady who lives on a rent-controlled fixed income in her building. What more do working people like her Mr. Mailman want, anyway. Unsurprisingly, Tarik knows—that Mr. Mailman has an actual name, and isn’t just wholly identified with the cutesy nickname Amber gave to him as part of her little sketch. See Hezekiah after class, Ms. Ruffin.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.