Bruce W. Smith called the process of sneaking jokes back into the animation “show-making judo,” and admits it’s something he probably shouldn’t be doing. But in his words, it’s a way to “preserve a line” that the team knew would work, and was funny enough to save. “Just let it breathe, let it breathe, and let the process happen to you and I can show you how this is going to work,” he said. Smith said that the magic of animation allows even the most “walking the line” material to be digestible for mass audiences, which included a memorable joke from the first run of “The Proud Family.”
“There was one episode in the previous first version, which was — setting the tone in all this is key to me. The tone has to be right there in front of you so you actually can’t get away with certain jokes. One joke, it was written in the script, but it was always tough for the execs to follow, and that was when Oscar [Proud] got the Black slapped off of him.”
For the white folks at home, “getting the Black slapped off you” is a lot like the expression “slapping the taste out of your mouth,” where the phrase is typically used to say, “I am beyond done with you,” rather than a genuine threat of violence. “We found a way to do it in animation that’s hysterical, but when you read it on the page, it’s already like, ‘We can’t do this,’ and when you see it, you’re like, ‘Oh, they did it,’ That’s how it works,” said Smith.