Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The curious case of the bigot for hire and the landed comedians.- work in progress.

In England we have an unusual history with comedy.
In the 1960's and 70's comedy was definitely a working class occupation and entertainment.
Stand up acts like Bernard Manning and Roy Chubby Brown and Frank Carson dominated the working mans clubs and television. The jokes were dealing with a changing society , women were campaigning for equal pay, an end to sexual harassment in the work place, the second wave of mass immigration in to England was taking place from Pakistan and India (formerly one country,

Frankie Boyle is known for his extreme form of comedy in which he attacks the disabled, overweight people, basically his act is  that 1970’s white male on top humour.
His stand up is very similar to other comedians like Jimmy Carr, Frank Skinner  and Al Murray who have these working mens club style routines, albeit without the open racism, though that is a sliding scale.
It is in direct opposition to the alternative comedy that has dominated television stand up for the last thirty years.Comedy that had a large amount of female performers, was anti sexism and racism and relied on surrealist exposure of societies prejudices and foibles or interpersonal relationships.
Al Murray or The Pub Landlord  to use his stage name. is a  boorish, bigoted, sexist homophobic white male who struts across the stage with a pint jug in hand. He lectures and hectors the audience on foreigners and feminism.
Al Murray himself is privately educated, the great grandson of the writer William Makepeace Thackery ,  and originally claimed his act was intended to ridicule bigots of all stripes. However, the longer his act goes the less effective the satire, particularly as he has mentioned himself, a large part of his audience now are B.N.P.   E.D.L members who hold him as one of their own. Is it satire, if the target of your material, praises you, even adapting your work in to their own social interactions, shouting your catchphrases at women in pubs ‘Fruit based cocktail or white wine for the lady’..
And the financial incentive of keeping this audience means the work becomes less about exposing the bigots and more about keeping them buying the tickets. Does it make any difference if you tell a rape joke ironically, if everyone is laughing when you call the victim a silly bitch?
With only a few  of your audience understanding it on the level in which it is written. In case Al Murray has a team of writers, is a millionaire and is now a company producing product to order.
(Relevant article from chortle magazine on Al Murray's act).

Jimmy Carr is another wealthy comedian, from a privileged background. In England a lot of our most successful comedians and comedy writers are from Oxbridge or other privately educated Universities.Many of them writing working class characters, up for ridicule ( Made in Britain),  which are then  celebrated by the same group the comedians loathe, who adopt this patronising sneer as approval. The politics of marginalization and lack of critical thinking come in to play here.
Carr claims any subject is up for a comedian to use, including rape jokes, sexism, homophobia and racism and comedy causes a positive effect since it pushes public discussion. Carr also writes for the Murdoch press empire as a regular columnist.
Frank Skinner rode the herald for the ‘New lad’ generation. A twenty to thirty year old man child who claims to celebrate the differences between men and women. Skinners act and personal life were often criticized for mysoginy.
Boyle is somewhat different in that he is openly left wing, but his comedy is often indistinguishable from Carr, Murray and Skinner.
If the comedy is  hateful bigotry, anti women, homophobic but the comedian is left wing or adopts a stance that their comedy is serving a  useful social function while banking huge cheques from an audience who never get the joke but watch for confirmation of their own cruelty , and so a get a legitimization from a public figure of their views.
Work in progress/edit

1 comment:

  1. A bigot for hire, there is a concept, as it can be seen going far back. but then again people weren't so anal back then so comedians could have fun, not to say they weren't bigots, but some may not have been.


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