Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Dentally Damaged Tongue

Things bother me. People bother me. And when people and things get together and whisper in the corner, well then I become well and truly discombobulated. I'm becoming ever more annoyed and bewildered by the increasing frequency of what I assume is "ironic" political incorrectness. Irony only works, surely, when you have a demonstrable body of work on which to draw those ironic allusions, it doesn't work when all you say is racist/homophobic/disablist/mysogynistic or body fascistic. The trend towards this Gervais-esque tone is quite frankly, political incorrectness gone mad.

And Political Correctness is a term which is so readily sneered at. There's a book by Barry Glasner called The Culture of Fear, which carefully deconstructs the attacks on PC thinking, which I'd thoroughly recommend reading. Also, How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered The World by Francis Wheen, but that's another subject entirely.

Anyway, how morally repugnant is it of me to sit quietly and bite my tongue when I hear acts saying these things on stage? When does ironic hatred stop being ironic? Surely an ironically mysogynistic joke is exactly the same as a mysogynistic one, no matter how you pitch your voice? The worst example I can think of right now is the ITV show Reading Festival Comedy Tent, which offered up a string of white middle class male comedians, a slurry of disablist jokes, and a female vaudeville act which was nothing short of a striptease. It's almost as if the 1980s never happened. And while that would mean that 'Bastard Thatcher' never got her paws on the country, I woe the effect it's having on "alternative" comedy.

Maybe my bile is fuelled by a bad gig I did on Sunday night. Who knows? Rusty is the best word to use. Creaking would be another. Matters weren't helped by a very conversational audience, the most vocal of whom turned out to be an act doing his first open spot. Poor form indeed.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


There I stand, cheap, weightless microphone in my hand, the stark incandescent light of the room belying the dark intimacy that a comedy gig requires. The audience watch on, agog, apoplectic, unmoved, as I slowly die on stage. Literally. I managed to choke on a mouthful of water tonight. No-one came to my aid, no-one cared that I was finding it hard to breathe, they just watched on as I struggled to talk, whilst simultaneously trying to catch some oxygen, eyes streaming, voice cracking. I hate, well, people really.

It wasn't my finest hour as a comedian, barely staying alive didn't help matters, and nor did my shambolic, slipshod, floundering performance. I knew I wasn't doing well, but part of me knew that if I applied some concentration and some tightly honed material to the situation, I could easily turn it around. But there was a moment when I got a big laugh out of being rude to some poor, innocent by-sitter, when my contempt for the audience took over. I positively embraced my death, I did all the things you aren't supposed to do: pointing out how I was struggling, telling the audience you're not funny, pausing in the most inappropriate place, breaking my own rythmn. At one point, I even invited the audience to offer their feedback, and I heard the word "floundering". Not a bad linguistic choice as it happens.

But what was most telling was that when I did finally stop arsing about like that, and presented them with my storm story, I immediately had them laughing again, louder than they had done all night. Such a shame that the momentum was broken by someone questioning the physics of what is an absolutely honest retelling of a factual event. As I said, I hate people.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Fascists Eh? Cuh. What Can You Do?

Well, you could unite against them, like we did in Birmingham, less than a week after the race riots. To be honest, I was pretty worried that there might be some trouble, but rather boringly and uneventfully, there wasn't. That would have made this entry much more interesting, as I recounted the moment I punched a fascist in the face. Didn't happen. At the very least Nick Griffin could have bothered to turn up to say we had hurt his feelings. In the end, all we got was a phone call from Mussolini saying sorry for all the silly bother.

Yeah, so, a gig for the Birmingham branch of Unite Against Fascism. That's a bit of a misleading misnomer really, because what they mean is Unite Against the BNP, which is fair enough, not Unite Against An Economic Ideology, which is less clear cut. Either way, it's odd doing comedy just after a man in a leather jacket has done a right on comrades type speech. Apparently we raised two hundred pounds.

I did an okay gig. Performance wise I felt a little off-time, but I seemed to get the laughs I deserved. There was the small matter of forgetting to do the initial joke for a huge call back at the end of my set, but I covered it well, and actually got a great response from playing up to the folly of it all.

Did a writing day with Mr Hodgson for the sitcom which was extremely productive. We'll see what comes of it all.

It feels a bit like I might be stalking Stewart Lee. We went to see his show again at the Tobacco Factory, and as always, watching him perform material for a second or third time was brilliantly funny. He's one of those comedians who I can happily listen to over and over again, and always laugh out loud. He was supported by Stephen Carlin, who was disappointing, and reminded me of a slightly sub-standard Mr Lee circa 1990. To be honest, I'd have much rather seen him supported by Josie Long, who filled that role last year apparently. Never mind.
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