Comedian John Cleese

Comedian John Cleese.

03-04-2021BJORN SIGURDSON

In order to be gender-neutral, I’ve asked my grandchildren not to call me ‘Granddad’ anymore. From now on I’ll be their ‘linear creation unit.’

That should keep the gender Gestapo happy for a while as I attempt to pour scorn on their collective neo-madness.

Have we so little to worry about in our lives that we conjure up out of nowhere problems that don’t actually exist for all but a tiny percentage of the world’s population?

No, I didn’t think so, what with one thing and another - you know, something called Covid-19, a vast ship stuck aground in the Suez Canal - Harry & Meghan whingeing and whining about bugger-all and allegedly some Brits about to be deported from Spain.

No, what some would have us do, is to confuse the overwhelming majority of young children who have no issues at all with their gender, either physically or emotionally - and then encourage them to make a choice which most of them would think baffling at best and disturbing at worst.

Now, this is the bit that I hate - it’s here that I will need to make a sort of grovelling catch-all apology to those who are said to be ‘fluid’ in their gender aspirations as some mealy-mouthed non-specific-gender-activist might accuse me of being discriminatory in this regard; which of course I most certainly am not.

Just extremely tired of being led-by-the-nose by people who confuse respect and help for any minority, with an all pervading wish to make those who are different from the rest of us a prototype for what they perceive as normal.

You see, sometimes it really is necessary for that most valuable of human assets i.e. common sense - to come to our rescue in these times of great confusion.

It seems that the British as a people are mostly famous for one thing. Do you know what it is? No, it’s not our capacity for hard work or snobbery, nor is not about our National Health Service, nor indeed about our supposed attachment to good manners, educational standards, or indeed our respect for ‘fair play’ at all times.

Believe it or not, we Brits are mostly admired by Johnny Foreigner because of our oblique and occasional self lacerating sense of humour.

But according to comedians such as John Cleese, our sense of humour is being hi-jacked by those who believe that humour must never be cruel or edgy.

Really? That doesn’t sound much fun at all does it? As someone who finds most ‘continental’ humour to consist of pratfalls, gurning, eye-rolling, and a lot of shouting.

I for one enjoy the odd ironic aside, the straight faced insult that may not be an insult at all. Perhaps a British perception of humour is rather different from that of other languages and cultures, in that - a well developed sense of humour is perceived to be a central part of a persons persona.

This is not to say that others are without humour - more, why do we Brits celebrate a sense of humour more than almost any other human accomplishment?

Without dipping into the subtleties or otherwise of what constitutes humour, for me there is no doubt that nowadays it is almost impossible to create and deliver hard hitting relevant humour without upsetting or offending someone who is actively looking to be offended, this is not the way that incisive and biting humour works.

Please do not get me wrong - I have always hated racist remarks dressed up as banter or those paralysing sexist put-downs employed by some inadequate men to bully women; but generally humour should not adhere to any rulebook, nor should it stay away from controversial issues and biting satire.

We have come a long way from the days of fat (can I say that?) middle-aged comedians in dinner suits with frilly shirt fronts grinding their way through a depressing array of mother-in-law jokes with dead eyes and a sort of dire predictability.

Indeed, surely democracy demands that our politicians and those in authority over us are regularly mocked and reminded of their many shortcomings? For no other reason, other than to remind them who elected them to power and what for.

For instance, if you wanted to describe a dictatorship - all you have to say is that attempting to make fun at a despots expense is not only unwise, but probably deadly.

Happily, we are a long way from that situation, but - beware the calls from the far-right and the far-left to try and make humour what they want it to be - because I can assure you, it won’t be funny.

But the depressing prissiness of many of today’s social commentators, and those who like to explain to us really slowly and earnestly, as to what is comedically acceptable according to their own views, are becoming a real pain.

A well known comedian who didn’t want to be named said recently - “There’s nothing you can say nowadays that won’t upset someone.

I just can’t be bothered anymore.” Does anyone else think the fact that he doesn’t want to be named is deeply worrying? Happily, there are exceptions to this general malaise in humour.

During our August holiday in Cornwall a few years ago with our extended family, the ‘family park’ site where we stayed, employed a different children’s entertainer every evening to pacify the kids.

Apart from one chap, who quite clearly hated children; the others were quite brilliant and each and every night our little-ones were convulsed in uproarious laughter and screeching blue-murder for more of the same slightly dodgy humour and general wickedness.

The poor bloke would have been thrown out of most right-on so-called comedy venues for actually making people laugh at rude things. You remember laughing don’t you? Good, I’m glad someday does.

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john / Hace 11 days

So true and a good article. I remember watching 70's and 80's comedians and sketch shows. I laughed so much, and Anybody could say anything without fear of repercussions so long as they didn't go to far and they generally knew that. They were brilliant shows of comedy,and humour was at a height. Sadly today that's long gone. It's actually quite sad that when we laugh today watching comedians or comedy shows,we actually stop and think afterwards if it's going to upset the ex comedy police brigade. Laughing is a human emotion and makes us feel very good,we should all do it more.

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Steve / Hace 12 days

Nice article Frank. I find myself being ultra rude to the Woke brigade now as I think they are a pathetic bunch of underachievers.

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