About that Jimmy Carr ‘joke’

Before I get stuck in properly with this let me make it clear that Carr isn’t especially funny to me, and his recent Netflix special is bloody awful. He’s trying hard to be Bob Monkhouse but doesn’t have the material to match his, so copes on ‘edgy’ comedy to give him his material and again, much of it sucks.

His Netflix special came out just before Christmas, but his line about Gypsies being murdered in the Holocaust was only picked up a week or so ago. Carr has rightfully been condemned, and his line isn’t funny unless you think the murder of thousands of Gypsies is funny. That’s where one can peel the humour off it. That’s it. Do I think that Carr should be canceled or as one SNP councilor says, the crowd laughing at the crowd should be prosecuted?

Image

Well, no. Condemning Carr for being a prick is enough, though that just feeds his ego and prolongs his career but going down the road to prosecute the audience leads us down the road to the sort of authoritarian regime that gave birth to the likes of the Nazis or Stalin. There’s also a lot of talk about how comedy should be only about ‘punching up’, which leaves comedy in a place where it essentially it picking on the usual easy targets for leftish performers and audiences and closes off so many subjects of comedy because anything can be the subject of comedy or satire.

Except Carr’s line was neither. It was just racist pandering to a core of his audience. In a free world Carr should take the criticism for this but at the same time we shouldn’t be calling for audience members to be prosecuted.

A quick word about Dave Chappelle’s final Netflix special

I’ve always had an odd relationship with Chappelle’s work. At times he’s a stone-cold fucking genius, others he makes me cringe from either piss-poor material or just a terrible construction of a routine. In this final special, The Closer, Chappelle does something else which is to genuinely tell a touching, affecting story in the more offensive way possible while at the same time landing blows on parts and people of the age we’re living in.

By now some of the content of the special has made it out into the world with it being labelled ‘transphobic’, which to be fair, some of it certainly is depending on whatever one’s definition of ‘transphobia’ is as Chappelle goes headfirst into the debate and mentions the issues with the Trans movement as we’ve known it over the last six or seven years. He crosses boundries, which is good, and make you uncomfortable which is agin, good as a good comic should be able to make you question your beliefs. Like Chappelle I tend to beleive in basic science in that one can’t change sex, (though Chappelle fucks up and calls sex ‘gender’ which is something entirely different) but thaat gender is a social construct designed to keep women, and men, from never actually breaking down barriers. Gender is something which should be ripped down, not expanded into 157 varieties making the issue even worse and it essentially turns identity into a commodity you can just pick off a shelf without all that making it up yourself as you develop as a person.

Chappelle though has a point in all this in the last 15 minutes where he outlines the story of a trans-woman who was a fan of his that he helped nurture even to the point of getting them to open for him. By the time we get to the punchline we get why Chappelle is so angry with a certain type of ‘Trans’ person who would rather tear down one of their own tribe than engage with the points raised. In this case there’s a tragic result. I won’t spoil it all as it’s tragic, melancholy and angry all at the same time so those damning this sight unseen, or crying out to cancel Chappelle (which makes part of the point of this special) as those deserving of the venom thrown at them near the end of this show.

Work past some of the flat jokes here (the ‘Space Jews’ skit was funnier when Mel Brooks cracked it) for some biting commentary on one of the big subjects of the day, but that last 15 minutes elevates this. The Closer isn’t the funniest of his Netflix specials, but it may just be his most important.

Cancelling Janey Godley

Janey Godley’s cancellation for some pretty vile racist Tweets does not come as a massive shock. She made her name through edgy humour, and although over the last few years she’s tried pandering to her new more middle-class audience, not to mention figures high in the Scottish government but you can’t be a mate of government and an edgy comic at the same time. It was clear that Godley was trying to reshape herself by quoting things she clearly didn’t believe but would see her in good stead with government, but you can’t hide from your past online and that came back to hurt her.

Yet this isn’t really her fault. Whoever authorised her to be the face of a government campaign and paid her £12k (which somewhat takes the piss out of anyone’s progressive credentials to cash in on the public purse during a pandemic)should have been soundly bollocked but I doubt they will.

And I also dismay of the feral packs who hounded her to cancellation, even though she’d indulge in the same herself sometimes with people who were not abusive Rangers fans, but political opponents to the SNP for I assume, a few brownie points. Here’s the thing about cancellation; these packs will turn on anyone and find anyone. I remember seeing one Tweet when Lindsay Ellis was cancelled that said ‘they didn’t care’ about the facts but that they’d now got the chance to go after someone and effectively try to destroy their life. Which is the problem with cancellation; it never stops. One day you’re the head of the pack and the next the pack is savaging you.

Godley’s mistake was to ignore this fact and because of that she’s suffered a public shaming which ultimately, is the entire point of this thing. It’s medieval, cruel and needless, and unless we find ways to curtail it we’re all fucked.

A small word of appreciation for Gilbert Gottfried

When I first saw Gilbert Gottfried on UK TV in the late 80’s, I thought I was going to die as I couldn’t breathe frm laughing so much, so quite a first impression. Since then I’ve enjoyed his act,with his infamous post 911 gag being a work of comedic daring, audacity and skill to turn it into something vastly different.

In this video he talks about that joke as welll as comedy in general in what is an increasingly sanitised medium which makes his words worth listening to.

Edinburgh isnae Scotland

Comedian and gamer, Limmy claimed that Edinburgh isn’t really Scotland to the wailing cries of media types across Scotland and the UK.

He is of course ripping the piss (and so many took it seriously much to I assume, his delight) but he’s got a point. Edinburgh isn’t Scotland, or at least what most people outwith of Scotland think of as the city. It’s a theme park for tourists, just as large parts of London are, or New York or any major world city, the difference with Edinburgh is it’s such a tale of two cities as one of the shortbread tin version of Scotland sold to the world, and the other is a city and people struggling to keep up with being priced out of their own city by incomers pushing up prices.

And he’s right, you want to experience Scotland, don’t go to Edinburgh, don’t come to the nice parts of Glasgow, but go to the parts off the tourist trails where might see how most people live, and how they struggle. Sometimes that struggle is because of the gentrification thrown up upon them as this is the problem with coming to live in what you see as an authentic area. Once the incomes move in that area changes and rarely for the best.

But come to Scotland. Say hello to Nessie as well.

Beavis and Butthead videos are a lost joy

The early 90’s are not the dead zone of culture between the excesses of the 80’s and Britpop many histories would have you think these days. Back then things were pretty vibrant even though we were all skint and the Tories were relentlessly in power,we still could go a find a good time and the music was fucking ace then too.

One of the joys was staggering in late at night to finish off a night watching MTV and especially Beavis and Butthead, which people watched mainly for the videos as they’d play as most of the time they’d play stuff you’d never see elsewhere. Too many times I’d wake up on the couch with Revolting Cocks or an obscure Iggy Pop video playing as part of the show.

There’s a five hour plus edit of these videos now on Youtube and they’re a complete joy, and remarkably, still funny after all these years. Go relive your youth or discover it for the first time..

Richard Pryor’s showbiz roast

Richard Pryor is in my mind one of the top five comedians of the 20th century, and I don’t think there’s many out there today who have the sheer comic talent or the bollocks to do what he did. The man was a genius who died too soon, and yes, I’d dearly like an elderly Pryor casting his opinions on comedy and the world around him in this bizarre time we all live in.

Sadly we can’t but we can look back at what he did, which was a lot so that means that every now and then something pops up which is new to me and it feels amazing to find such gems. This roast of Pryor from 1977 is a glorious thing as his peers unleash their best upon him. Watch this and see a time when Pryor was near the top of his game, and bright new talents like Robin Williams were coming up challenging him.

Sutcliffe! The musical.

Peter Sutcliffe is dead which is a good thing, but during all the talk of his and the women he murdered abanned sketch from Brass Eye came to mind. Brass Eye was a TV series produced by Chris Morris and a team of exceptionally talented team of writers and actors for Channel 4 in 1997. It is by far one of the great bits of TV satire/comedy ever produced in the UK, but during the first broadcast it suffered heavily from censorship, especially in Episode 6 which saw whole sketches lost including one about Peter Sutcliffe starring in his own West End musical.

At the time a Jack the Ripper musical was proposed, plus ‘Ripper tours’ of the murder sites were pulling in the money in the East End of London, which back then hadn’t gentrified to the state it has now so it wasn’t ironic hispters being mocked, but working class women. There was also a glamourisation of old gangsters, some of which commited crimes as bad as Sutcliffe. The idea this sketch was supporting Sutcliffe was a joke, but it was one pushed by the usual suspects.

However judge for yourself…

What I thought of Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm

Sacha Baron Cohen has come a long way from being the only actually funny person on Channel 4’s mostly long-forgotten The 11’O Clock Show in the late 1990’s. Here’s one of the better examples of that programme and a reminder why much of it remains forgotten.

Baron Cohen’s skill became to take on the powerful and not just try to get famous people to wonder what was going on, which made Ali G so much fun til that character got out of control, hence why Borat worked so well in the first film as folk in the West didn’t have a clue about Kazakhstan, so a sense of western ignorance mixed with racism meant he could get away with a lot in his uncovering of the darker side of American society and culture. This film isn’t as random as the first film this time choosing to focus on Donald Trump, the hard right Americans who follow him and that entire culture just that this time he brings a trump card as it were.

Maria Bakalova has been unknown to people til now but after this amazing, fearless performance there’s talk of her winning awards, and even though this is a fallow year for film, she should be nominated because I doubt they’ll be anything better in terms of performance this year. With Baron Cohen they make a formidable couple and seeing them take on the bigotry, and lunacy, of the Trump supporting hard right is a joy, and a nightmare as one realises this is real and happening right now in America.

What the film does is dissect modern American life in a way you’ll rarely see in news programming let alone comedy and in doing so lays open the open sores of the USA that won’t just be healed when/if Donald Trump is voted out of office next month. For me this is Baron Cohen’s best work so far as there’s a real purpose mixed with fury at the state of things as democracy itself is threatened in a way we’ve not seen in our lifetimes. If it takes Borat and his daughter to make things better then so be it.

UK ad for Evil Dead 2 from 1987

Evil Dead 2 is one of my favourite films. It is an almost perfect sequel but when it came out in cinemas here in the UK it wasn’t anything like the success the first one was which was a shame. The first Evil Dead ran in parts of the UK for years, with it running in Glasgow in various cinemas for five years.

The second one suffered from the wave of censorship still washing over the UK and also I don’t think people outwith of the fans got it, but time has shown it to be a classic. It did however have a great marketing campaign here in the UK with Raimi working his arse off in terms of publicity, and this advert with Jonathan Ross just sums up the campaign well, and sets expectations for what you’re going to see.