Q

Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar skewer everyday racism in America

Comedian Amber Ruffin and her sister Lacey Lamar joined q's Tom Power live on the air on Inauguration Day to discuss their powerful new book, You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism.

The comedian and her sister also share how they're feeling on Inauguration Day

Comedian Amber Ruffin and her sister Lacey Lamar are the co-authors of a powerful new book, You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism. (Lloyd Bishop/NBC)

When Lacey Lamar experienced something racist and cringeworthy in her everyday life, the Nebraska native would immediately text her comedian sister Amber Ruffin, who would commiserate with her.

You may know Ruffin from her work on Late Night With Seth Meyers or as the host of her own late-night talk show, The Amber Ruffin Show on Peacock, but the comedian said it's her sister's perspective that she wanted to focus on in a new book they co-authored, titled You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism.

"It's really interesting next to my perspective, which is 'comedy lady who lives in New York,' because I don't see any of this stuff. And it blows my mind, every story she tells me," said Ruffin alongside Lamar in a new interview with q host Tom Power.

You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism (Lloyd Bishop, Hachette Book Group Canada)

Drawing on memories of past conversations they shared as well as detailed journals Lamar kept to document her experiences with racism at work, the sisters were able to compile a number of hilarious but telling stories that skewer casual racism.

Ruffin's favourite story from the book was when her sister used a Black History Month cheque to pay for something in a store.

"Lacey had Black History Month cheques and each cheque had a different history hero on it. And so one day, she wrote out a cheque, handed it to the cashier and the cashier took the cheque, looked at it and said, 'I didn't know you could get your picture on cheques!' And the picture was of Harriet Tubman."

If it's unexpected, I guess it's sad, but racism is not unexpected, [so] it's almost always a little hilarious.- Amber Ruffin

While everyday racism isn't a funny subject, both sisters emphasized how important it is to share and laugh about your experiences, including the unpleasant ones.

"Well, you have to live it, so it's a little funny automatically," Ruffin said. "If it's unexpected, I guess it's sad, but racism is not unexpected, [so] it's almost always a little hilarious."

Lamar added that she and Ruffin have always been able to find the humour in difficult moments.

"Our whole family is like this. This is how we talk on a daily basis. This is just what we do. You have to find humour in things, otherwise, you are just going to sink to the bottom and have a horrible life. So you have to be able to laugh at things."

On the inauguration of Joe Biden

Joining Power live on the line from New York on Jan. 20 (Inauguration Day), Ruffin and Lamar shared their excitement about the new Biden-Harris administration. Ruffin quiped: "[I] woke up so early and so ready to have a new president."

"Trump's on his way out right now, making all these threats, talking about, 'This won't be the last time we see each other...' I'm like, 'Yes, it will!' That would be scary, if he wasn't like the biggest liar on earth. So yeah, it's less of a threat and more like the ramblings of a crazy man."

Lamar responded that her sister is "way more positive" than she is. "I feel like he could be back because I live in Nebraska where people worship him. … I mean, I'm very happy now that Biden is in office. I'm ecstatic. But I do think that there's a tiny chance that Trump could come back in four years. And that scares me."

As a TV host, Ruffin said she is looking forward to not having to cover Trump as much on her show.

"I am certain that next Friday, we're gonna go for zero Trump stuff. Not a frickin' word. Not one word about Trump or the insurrection — or any of it. I think that's my goal, is to have a completely Trump-free show."

When asked about what they're paying attention to today, Ruffin joked that she's just "paying attention to what everyone's wearing."

"Yes, there'll be remarks, but they'll be the same old thing, 'Unity, blah, blah, blunity. But what are you wearing?'"

History has been made in the United States with the swearing-in of Kamala Harris as vice-president. She is the first woman, the first Black American and the first South Asian American to ever hold the job. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

On a more serious note, the sisters said it was "cool" that the vice-president-elect, Kamala Harris, will be the first female, first Black American and first South Asian-American vice-president. 

"It's a woman. It's a Black woman. It's exciting," said Ruffin. "It feels very encouraging. It feels cool. I wonder if I'm gonna cry — I better not because I'll be out of my job!"

"We have the TV on, nothing's going on right now. Everything is perfectly normal," Lamar added. "They're still setting up the inauguration stuff and talking about their freakin' feelings. Oh, it's great."


Hear the full interview with Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar near the top of this page.

Written by Vivian Rashotte. Interview produced by Danielle Grogan.

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