The Joke Is on Us

Single-Minded: What are we really trying to say with all these "S--t People Say" videos?


It all started as a joke, says “S–t Black Girls Say” creator Billy Sorrells. But 3 million views and countless copycats later, the actor-comedian thinks that things aren’t so funny anymore.

On Dec. 12, Canadian comic Graydon Sheppard debuted his “S–t Girls Say” series on YouTube, based on his popular Twitter feed of the same name. My favorite tweet? “I was mortified.”

In the video Sheppard, dressed in drag and a long, auburn wig, cycles through familiar stereotypes about women, from their forgetfulness (“Did I lock my door?”) to their passive-aggressiveness (“Could you not do that, please?”).

In just one month’s time, Sheppard’s first episode (there are now three) has been viewed nearly 10 million times on YouTube. Actress Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers) even gets in on the fun in two episodes.

Then came Sorrells, who, like Sheppard, wanted to make people laugh. Sorrells’ video, “S–t Black Girls Say,” pays homage to the original — poking fun at stereotypes that are funny because there is some truth buried beneath the punch line. What black woman hasn’t, upon reading an annoying email, shouted to the universe, “DUH-lete!”

“It’s not meant to be derogatory,” said Sorrells in a phone interview with The Root. “It’s just comedy.”

Sorrells and a small production team put together “S–t Black Girls Say” in less than 48 hours; the video now has nearly 3.5 million views. Sorrells was quick to point out, however, that this isn’t his shtick, so to speak. “I’m an actor and a thespian first,” as he explained it.

Whereas Sheppard continues to crank out “S–t Girls Say” episodes that feature him as the ditzy “any girl” about town spouting silly female-speak, Sorrells said he’s done with the “genre.”

“We can’t spend all of our time talking about the ‘black and white’ thing,” said Sorrells in a nod to another iteration of the “___ says” field, Franchesca Ramsey’s “S–t White Girls Say to Black Girls.”

Ramsey’s video didn’t just strike some nerves; it demolished them, digging out oft-talked-about — though rarely publicly — micro aggressions. On their own, those tiny pinches of ignorance might not “seem racist,” but taken cumulatively, they can add up to being fed up.