You don't want to have to be in the position of explaining a joke, but it's the day after the somewhat edgy joke brought criticism — because who wouldn't seize an opportunity to criticize a politician you don't like and because those who don't like Hillary know so very, very well that if a Republican had attempted a joke with a racial edge that Republican would be called out forcefully. But what's De Blasio going to do? He's got to attempt to explain it.
So the little sketch — at a gathering of New York journalists and politicos that was actually called the "Inner Circle dinner" — had De Blasio rapping: "I came out blazing with heavy artillery, for the queen of Democrats, my home girl, Hillary."
Then Hillary came on saying: "I heard my name. I just have to say, thanks for the endorsement, Bill. It took you long enough."
De Blasio said: "Sorry Hillary, I was running on CP time." There was a black actor on stage — Leslie Odom Jr. (who plays Aaron Burr in the Broadway musical "Hamilton") — and he made as if he were offended, saying: "That's not — I don't like jokes like that, Bill."
Then Hillary got the punchline — correcting the impression that CP meant "colored people" — saying "Cautious politician time. I've been there."
De Blasio's explanation was: "It was clearly a staged show. It was a scripted show and the whole idea was to do the counter-intuitive and say, 'cautious politician time.'"
Well, if it's scripted, that means it was thought out and intentional, no mere slip. But that doesn't get them off the hook for participating. I'd love to see a politician try to evade responsibility for a terrible line in a speech by saying Hey, I didn't write that speech.
De Blasio's main point is that the guy that he was when he was reading the line really was saying "I was running on cautious politician time." That guy is innocent of saying "colored people time." But those who wrote the joke and the politicians and actor who chose to play that script knew that it was funny because the listeners would hear "CP time" and assume it meant "colored people time," so they were deliberately playing with the racial stereotype. And they had a black man right there at their service to: 1. nudge the audience to get the reference and understand the joke, 2. play the role of the offended black person who admonishes the seemingly callous white people, and 3. play the role of the black person who did not understand and must absorb correction from the actually-not-callous-at-all white people.
Except that they were callous to choose to play the role of the people who were actually not callous, because the comedy of it depended on thinking about black people as "colored people" and as having a group trait of untimeliness.