Larry returns home and is immediately accosted by Auntie Rae's nephew Leon. Leon wants to know what the hell is going on: "Goddamn, Larry, what the fuck, man? You hug my auntie, man. You stab her in the stomach? What the fuck is that?" Larry attempts to explain the circumstances. That Auntie Rae hugged him for longer than five seconds, past which he no longer has control over his penis. "You got a five-second rule?" asks Leon without missing a beat. "He got a five-second rule. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 BOING then it come out," Leon then explains to his cousin Loretta who has joined the fray. Guess who plays Loretta? Does the name "Sherice" ring a bell? It's Vivica A. Fox again, and she's swapped the hunky greaser God Brandon for a thin balding neurotic Jew, but it's still in Beverly Hills. Leon is played by longtime comedian JB Smoove and is one of television's breakout characters of 2007. Even the New York Times paid attention to him. He is hilarious on the show, a sort of wisecracking, fast-talking soul mate of Larry's. Larry spends more time in Season 6 with Leon than with his own wife. Leon has little consideration for social graces. He eggs Larry on with the familiar tone of Jackie Chiles, Seinfeld's brusque attorney. Leon doesn't miss a beat adopting Larry David's risible etiquette on the show, viz. his remark about Larry's five-second rule, or in a previous episode when, in the course of an argument between the two about morning toast, Leon confidently asserts, "You can't pause toast."
Comedy has rules just like anything else. What makes Leon funny is what has made any number of white performers funny: his brashness, his loud and often foul mouth, and his complete lack of a filter. But the black performer endures an extra burden. Can Leon be viewed as a stereotype? The whole point of Frank's Place was to beat back the Leons of the world, wasn't it? Is it the great dilemma of every black comedic performer to be funny without being laughed at too much? In an interview with Oprah, Dave Chappelle admitted that he started to question the direction of his show after seeing a white employee laugh hysterically at a sketch where Chappelle was dressed as a minstrel act. In effect, Chappelle was concerned that the guy was laughing but didn't really get the joke. Still, there's nothing less funny than insisting on positive images in comedy. An episode of Roc proves that. JB Smoove's Leon paints in broad strokes but with light touches. Lines like the one about toast are more often punctuated by faceless stares than, say, a pretend touchdown spike of a watermelon. This ain't J.J. Evans. It's the aughts.
The Blacks threaten to leave the house for good, but Larry explains he's merely been starved for affection since his wife left him and promises no more hugging. Besides, he has a date with a doctor he met in the commissary. On their date, the doctor tells Larry that her brother and sister are staying with her for the next couple of months. She's somewhat ambivalent about it and Larry can relate, explaining that he lives currently with a homeless family from the hurricane: "Their name is Black and they're actually black." "Well, that makes it easy," says the doctor.
The next day they meet again for lunch at the hospital commissary. This cafeteria must have a Zagat's rating. Larry excuses himself to use the bathroom but before he goes, the doctor hands him a note she wrote to him out of shyness. On his way to the bathroom, Larry tries to read it, but can't read the doctor's handwriting. He asks a woman in the hallway, but she's as clueless as he is. Larry, you see, is a latent sufferer of paruresis, the fear of public toilets, only his fear is not so much using one as being seen in one. To that end, he pees in the bathroom stall rather than the urinal. What he overhears is ghastly. It's the worst overheard-in-a-bathroom scene since Trading Places. A guy on his cell phone talks about having to take the top of a futon "because of some 300-pound nigger." He continues: "I'm at the fucking top and this nigger drops his side." Larry is shocked. He returns to the cafeteria visibly stirred by such public racism. Get it straight: this is 2007 Beverly Hills, not the Glendale section of Queens in 1971. The only thing that should be prejudicial in this setting is the completely unexamined way of life. Not the fucking words. Larry relays the story of the bathroom to the doctor but when he gets to the word "nigger," a black doctor -- a highly qualified black doctor -- is happening to walk by. The black doctor is completely outraged. "What did you just fix your mouth to say?" Sounding exactly like my grandmother if she were ever that angry with me, but she never has been because I love my grandma. Hello Grandma! Now back to "nigger." The black doctor calls Larry a "bald son of a bitch," then leaves in a huff for surgery. The operation just happens to be on Larry's agent Jeff. Suddenly an operation to cure his roof-shaking snoring problem requires additional prep. The enraged black doctor grabs a pair of Oyster hair clippers and shaves his patient bald.
When Jeff wakens from surgery and looks in a mirror, he and his wife scream to the high heavens. They demand an explanation from the doctor, who offers an elaborate and eloquent apology for his deed, but insists the cause of his blind rage was brought on by a vile word said by a "despicable bald man." "Bald?" asks Jeff's wife Susie. "Did he by any chance wear glasses?" The entire two scenes play out like a terrific parody of what every PC-obsessed white person must feel will happen if they are ever confronted by racism. Of course I have my own personal experiences to bring to the fore. I was lucky enough, very recently and with not a whole heck of a lot of experience, to win a state trivia-off at a Dave & Buster's down in South Carolina. If you don't know what a trivia-off is, it's a state wide round robin tournament with contestants participating locally at Dave & Buster's locations in their area, then facing off against each other by trying to answer the most correct questions about Confederate history. I had the good fortune to win the whole darn thing, only to have the accomplishment swept from under my feet when the mayor of Gilford got on TV to tell the Hampton County news media that he "remembers" Jesse Jackson winning a similar trivia tournament twelve or so years ago, before there were nationals. He neglected to mention that Rev. Jackson's win was in the Civil Rights category only, and therefore not really an overall win.
Anywizzy, Larry is at home trying to make heads or tails of the note from his lady doctor. Susie and Jeff come crashing in to blame him for Jeff's new overweight-cancer-patient look. Larry defends himself and retells the complete story, but again, when he reaches the most crucial part of the story and has to say "nigger," Loretta walks in and overhears it. She freaks out and yells for Leon. "Larry just said 'nigger,'" Loretta tells Leon. "Get the fuck outta here!" he replies. Soon Auntie Rae gets in on the act, and all three are on the balcony yelling their guts out at a hapless Larry. They decide to leave the house, and Susie volunteers to set them up at her place. Auntie Rae caps off the scene with a middle finger and the words, "Fuck you, Larry, with your monkey ass!"