When the Hungarian State Opera’s white cast of singers came together in Budapest earlier this month to revive a production of George Gershwin’s opera “Porgy and Bess,” they received letters carrying an unusual request: to declare themselves African-American.

According to the Hungarian news website Index, which said it has seen a copy of the letter, the singers were asked to sign a declaration stating that “African-American origins and spirit form an inseparable part” of their identity. At least half the group signed, according to Index. – New York Times.

“Hungarian Jenkins!”

“Igen Uram?”

“Oh, don’t do that. We do this joke every time.”

“I’ll speak English, sir.”

“Not well. You have the rhetoric of the seaborn. Were you birthed on a boat, Jenkins?”

“No, sir.”

“Were you the first generation brought forth upon the land? I know the look in your eyes, boy. You’ve got the canals in your veins.”

“Sir, I believe you called me in here to discuss the American situation.”

“That guy’s like a horny monkey. He’s getting his jizz everywhere. Dumb, orange, cruel, slouchy jizz. All over the world. It’s a reverse bukake, Jenkins. That’s the American situation, my friend. Reverse bukake.”

“The other situation, sir. The one that directly affects us.”

“The Jews from New York?”

“Oh, please, sir. Let’s save the anti-Semitism for emergencies.”

“One is required to blame the Israelite, at times. Political expedience and all that. Never anything personal. If we had Mexicans, we could blame them, but we’re in Hungary. No Mexicans.”

“The owners of Porgy & Bess have sent several letters.”

“You know I’m allergic to mail, Jenkins.”

“Which is why I didn’t show them to you, sir.”

“Are they squirt material? That’s the best kind of letter to receive. When I was in the service, my wife sent me letters that were nothing but squirt material. A story and a drawing. She was an excellent artist, and she knew I liked my titties big, so she drew ’em real big. She could draw, Jenkins. That was prime squirt material. Loved that woman. ”

“Please focus.”


“She left you for a failed waiter named László. I need you to focus. The letters were just the beginning. The property’s owners have filed complaints with the EU.”

“The EU?”

“For the love of Christ, I beg you not to say–”


“–Huxit. No, sir. Hungary will not leave the EU because of a fight involving the opera house.”

“There was a war over soccer once.”

“We need to deal with what’s in front of us, sir. The creators of the material were, and the current stakeholders continue to be, quite adamant about the work being performed by a black cast.”

“The tenor’s black.”

“László? No, sir. He’s Hungarian. Magyar. Just like the rest of us.”

“What about the baritone? The tall one?”

“László? Also not black. Sir, we’re in Hungary. There’s no black people. I mean, there’s a handful but none of them can sing at a professional level.”

“Jenkins, aren’t we all African-Americans. I mean, if you go back far enough.”

“No, sir.”

“We all came from Africa.”

“That argument has never, ever elevated a discourse. It’s an unnecessary point.”

“Fine. Then we’ll call them the racists.”



“Sir, that won’t work. The opera is still a privately-held work, and so they can make whatever rules they want about productions. Plus, there’s the fact that you haven’t paid them and staged the show using a pirated copy of the score.”


“Perhaps, sir.”

“Hmm. Jenkins?”


“Is the makeup department present?”

“Oh, no, sir.”

“We’ll do it subtle! Very subtle. High-quality work. Not some sloppy greasepaint, Jenkins. And, obviously, the big white circles around the eyes and mouth would have to go. It would be subtle.”

“No, sir.”

“Like Downey, Junior! Tropic Thunder. He plays Iron Man, and he pays black guys. Why can RDJ do it and we can’t?”

“So, so, so many reasons.”

“We’re corking up the chorus, Jenkins. And we’ll need wigs.”

“No, sir. No wigs.”

“You know the wigs I’m talking about. Disco wigs.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Like Dr. J.”

“I can picture the hairstyle, sir. Let’s not do that. The Americans have completely lost their sense of humor about blackface.”

“What about brownface? The makeup department can do wonders.”

“It’s not about the shade, sir.”

“We could do high-yellow. Like Ice T. The brother is light-skindedded.”

“Again, sir: not about the shade. We cannot darken our cast and pretend they’re African-American.”

“Several of them are fans of hip-hop.”

“Still, sir.”

“Oh, fine. We’ll just switch operas. We’ll do Otello.”

“Great. Who’s playing Othello?”