The home of the haikulator

 

Links

My Stand-up & gigs
The Coding Craftsman
BurberryAndBroccoli
MarkInventions

The Musical!
Incredible Productions

apostrophell
backlash
incredible
haiku


Previous Posts

Cat-astrophic?
Long Live Comedy
Fabulous Fabulous Rachmaninov YouTube Big Hands Jo...
Oh Blog!
Silenced
Potted Version of 2 Gigs and One Day In Between
Blog-Out-Age
Show Listening Blog
House The How's
Friendly Payments

Blog Archives

January 1970
October 2001
November 2001
December 2001
January 2002
February 2002
March 2002
April 2002
May 2002
June 2002
July 2002
August 2002
September 2002
October 2002
November 2002
December 2002
January 2003
February 2003
March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
July 2003
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
August 2009
September 2009
January 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
October 2011
December 2011
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
March 2013
April 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
August 2013
September 2013
October 2013
December 2013
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
May 2014
July 2014
January 2015
February 2015
March 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
January 2016
February 2016
March 2016
April 2016
May 2016
July 2016
August 2017

Global Domination

Locations of visitors to this page

Thursday, March 22

Dangerous Ashley

When I was just starting out doing comedy, I used to dispair of the sort of act who made it their mission to be offensive or provocative to the audience for its own sake. These were people who felt that their views were more important than their audience's sensibilities and, more importantly, the jokes. I'd hear words like "I'm going to ruffle some feathers tonight" before they went on, and then, when they got there, they'd make some wan references to marijuana and porn to a stony-faced crowd and then they'd feel like they'd said something important.

I don't want to be that sort of act. I don't want to offend for its own sake. There must be a laugh. An audience's sensibilities are important.

However, the jokes must be told.

Over the last week, where I've gigged every night, there have been incidents where I've caused offense to an audience. Sometimes it's been funny and I stand by what I've said. Sometimes I've felt perhaps a little embarrassed/cringey/unimpressed by my own behaviour. Here's a quick run down of the week in being offended.

Thursday - sang a deeply un-PC song at a charity gig for Comic Relief. A punter complained that I was gleefully mocking the very people the charity was there to help. I started to try to point out that it was so ridiculously un-PC that it couldn't be real, let alone meant, but ended up just apologising unreservedly for his offence. Looking back, it hadn't been so funny at the time that it was causing someone offence... though it can be funny if the room "needs" it.

Friday - I was offended to be playing in a room full of drunken twats. As a result, I invented some insults which I threw at various members of the audience. Some were deserved and may stay in my mind as useful ambush jokes (in fact, one got re-used on Tuesday and got a round of applause). The audience weren't offended by my material. If only they'd understood how much I looked down on some of them... they would have been offended enough to maim.

Saturday - No offence caused. Lovely gig. Lovely crowd. Lovely promoter. Shame I only came second in the competitive aspects. Great conversation on the way home on the subject of racism and I really learned something.

Sunday - Another tough gig. For the first time ever I bottled out of a song because it only works if a crowd is ready to take hedonistic pleasure in its slightly dark offensiveness. My mind was so convinced that it wasn't going to work that it purposely deleted the lyrics from the screen behind my eyes where I read my words from when I'm performing.

Monday - The Catface Cabaret. I used a joke I've been doing now for a year. It's at the end of a routine where I've become ridiculously intimidating in song form, and comment that the person on the receiving end looks scared. The line I use is "Sorry about that. You're scared, I'm out of breath. This isn't a gig. It's a rape!". The point is to ridicule the moment. For the first time ever, and the small crowd and theatre setting were partly, if not entirely, to blame for this, this didn't get the usual laugh. It got an "ooh" from the girl in question and a tension. I then pointed out that it clearly wasn't one and that "it's all just a bit make-believe" (a Gavin Webster phrase that popped out of my mouth in a slightly desperate attempt to defuse the situation). It didn't kill the room, but mirth had stopped. I pondered in a split second whether the girl in question might have been the victim of a sexual assault and decided she probably hadn't. I finished the gig fine and it was fine. Another girl came up to me, though, and said I shouldn't joke about rape. She also said I could maybe use another phrase like "sexual assault". She said there's nothing funny about rape. What I wanted to say was that "rape" is a powerful word and that's why it's funny in that context, especially with the way it sounds - the rhythm, the sharp stab in the air of the word. However, I told her I agreed that there's nothing funny about rape. I guess she couldn't see the joke. Describing it now, it doesn't seem that funny. Maybe it's only funny when I've created a slightly cartoonish rapey mood and then debunk it by pointing out that it's supposed to be a gig, not a rape... Anyway. Rape is a funny word, but rape is not funny.

Tuesday - the rape joke brought the house down. The "racist material" didn't.

I'll describe my behaviour on Tuesday in a bit more detail than the other days. It's my decision-making process from Tuesday which I sort of regret, and I'm sort of glad about. I was at a try-out gig, with a bunch of people I knew in the room. I felt fairly safe to do whatever I thought was, or might be, funny. I was also going to do a bunch of stuff which previous experience told me was funny. I was also closing the show. I had a lot of rope and I planned not so much to hang myself with it, as twirl it around my head and lassoo the crowd in. Don't you love it when a metaphor gets out of control?

Anyway, I decided to play with fire. Fire's fun. Fire can be funny. I did it in a controlled fashion - like putting a sparkler into a metal bin full of sand (oh dear - a metaphor AND a simile). I decided that I was going to do the Cheryl Tweedy material which had worked really well first time out and then died sorry horribly, causing me to be considered racist, on its second time out. I decided also, if the Cheryl stuff worked, to do the material I blogged the other day (here).

I didn't really offend anyone - except perhaps the comedian who missed the sarcasm in my post-gig comment. I said something like "I was being a bit edgy there" and he said something like "no you weren't, you should have just been racist". I replied that I thought I'd probably stick to mildly amusing slightly rude comic songs as normal. The thing is, I didn't so much break boundaries as stop being funny and start a pointless and facile lecture on the power of words to offend. This helped me exorcise a demon, but was more about words than it was using them. Going into the 3rd person in a comedy set - i.e. talking about the material you're doing - isn't an aid to comedy. It's a turn off. I won't do that again. It wasn't edgy.

However, the Cheryl Tweedy material worked and, with my central aim of tweaking taboos if necessary, but not actually hurting anyone, I reckon I know how to do it again to more sensitive audiences without offending them. The problem with this material is that I have to use an acronym. The gag is that I don't like the lazy journalistic use of the word "WAG" to describe an individual person. It's a crap word and it's inaccurate, since it stands for Wives And Girlfriends. The correct term should be the acronym for "Wife Or Girlfriend". The problem is that that's a term of racial abuse. Saying the word "wog" on stage, even when you're referring to a white geordie girl, and even when you've already set it up as an acronym, is, to some fucking imbeciles, an act of racial abuse. Twats. They probably wouldn't enjoy this paragraph either. However, the problem with the word, even when qualified with the context I've described, is that an audience that's only partially listening, might not realise what's been said, just hear the word and then be offended out of context. I've been here before.

At the very least, Tuesday night's version, put the point of the joke right up front and then backed it up with the racism skeleton from Cheryl Tweedy's past, so that I could point the finger of racism at someone other than the messenger (i.e. me). It worked pretty well... though I forgot a bit of it.

The material about the power of the word "Paki". Well, it wasn't that funny. It was quite funny in discussion with other comedians backstage somewhere... but I think comedians can find the saying of any taboo word funny. That's what comedians like to do. It's not edgy and it's not clever, it's just getting drunk with the power of the microphone... which is what I used to hate in those open spots at the start of my comedic career.

Jim Jeffries and Brendon Burns have both dealt with these taboo subjects in a way that I can't. I'll leave my need to push those buttons unsatisfied and I'll just do it vicariously through listening to their CDs. It's not edgy, but it's more me.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

All content ©2001 - 2012 Ashley Frieze