Sunday, 31 March 2013

How Many Critics Does It Take To Change a Light Bulb?

I guess everyone thinks that they are better than average. I thought that I was the life and soul of the party, the man most likely to spin out the witty one-liner or hold the gang's attention with a comic monologue about Belgian avant-garde theatre. While I can cope being bested over the odd gag (Kieran Hurley's reponse when I mentioned that I had broken my glasses whilst reading Marx - "destroying the Spectacle again?" - was today's winner). But I am bummed to find out that I am, in fact, as dour as a Presbyterian preacher watching Jay and Silent  Bob Strike Back.

I might as well start with the punch-line, since I can't tell jokes. I was watching Tramadol Nights  and, despite Frankie Boyles' oddly amiable rudeness, I found large chunks of the show - especially the sketches - both not funny and offensive. The introduction, in which Frankie holds forth to a captive audience, sets the tone. He picks on various people in the front rows, without allowing them to respond. Only Frankie is allowed to talk: heckles like, say "the tramp's beard doesn't hide how much of your schtick you've stolen from Jerry Sadowitz," are not permitted.  It is a dismal comedy of contempt.

Then I watched Reginald D Hunter on YouTube. Again, Hunter seems to be likable, and comes across in interviews as being aware of the importance of humour for breaking taboos. But I find his routine about rape obnoxious and ignorant - with bonus irritation for trying to invoke science as a rationalisation for claiming forced sex has an evolutionary function.

To be clear: I don't want either comedian banned or censored. I know that Boyle's routine was removed from Children in Need thanks to a turn about the queen but not having your jokes on an international platform is not censorship, anymore than a film being given an eighteen certificate. I'll probably watch both comedians again, since I value the bits where they are funny more than the offense they cause me. The only response to offensive art is to create counter art. If I were funny, I'd be sketching a routine about Hunter and Boyle being in love with each other.

Not that I would see their putative homosexuality as being wrong or any less valid than their obvious love for the queen or themselves.

Both comedians are self-aware - Boyle was quick to sue when accused of racism, and these quotes from Hunter are unlikely to be matched in the back pages of Jim Davidson's joke book. They just happen to go over my personal moral event horizon. Fortunately, my lack of a sense of humour is probably a function of my tedious liberalism, and I guess I'll defend their right to say these things at the same time I moan that I don't like them.

Besides, have you seen the size of those guys?

No comments :

Post a Comment