Flip Wilson

You Devil You

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Unlike his counterparts Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor, comedian Flip Wilson's brand of humor rarely turns offensively risqué. Instead, he weaves interconnected yarns, fables, and tall tales blended with social and philosophical observations. Much in the self-deprecating style of the day, Wilson throws in the occasional politically incorrect ethnic remark. While these are in no way degrading, hurtful, or done with malice, they are a fascinating view on the state of race relations in the mid-'60s versus the 21st century. You Devil You (1968) was Wilson's second top pop LP entry, despite not charting nearly as high as its predecessor, Cowboys & Colored People (1967), which made it all the way into the Top 40. "Twenty Minutes of Silence" is almost an absurdist notion that he open his show by inviting the live audience and the listeners at home to interact with one another, rather than having Wilson simply entertain. As the title You Devil You suggests, he inserts the Geraldine persona -- although the character had yet to be formerly named -- in several selections, notably "Days of the Knights" (where she is waiting to be saved from a fire-breathing dragon) and "Lulu." The more standardized punch line-centered jokes are told within the context of a then-recent guest shot on The Joey Bishop Show or the tricky verbiage that crescendos on the abstract "Herman's Berry." The specifically race-related "Millionaire" and the story of the LSD-taking "Gardener" could just as easily have incorporated any minority. However, he turns them inward, presumably making the sentiment acceptable. Arguably the most disturbing of the lot is "I'm Not Flip Wilson," where it is revealed that the person on-stage is not Flip Wilson, but rather the guy who washes the dishes and empties the ashtrays. Parties who enjoy Wilson's innocuous jibes will find much to laugh about on You Devil You, which holds up well and is among the best in his catalog.

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