Cutting the monkey

Posted by ESC on April 24, 2000

In Reply to: Cutting the monkey posted by Rene' Pearson on April 23, 2000

: In reading Zora Neale Hurston's _Their Eyes Were Watching God_ I've come upon the phrase "cutting the monkey" several times (or variations of it). Anyone know its origin or meaning?

I heard an African American comic talk about being criticized by members of his race for "cutting monkey shines" in front of white people. Meaning, as I understood it, acting all jolly in a manner that would please the white folks. Acting a fool. Pandering, I guess you could call it.