Saturday, 30 August 2014

Comedy misogyny

There was quite a good programme on TV recently presented by Kirsty Wark called Blurred Lines, about how sexism and misogyny is alive and well and possibly having a bit of a resurgence though social media etc (see: Mary Beard; Caroline Criado-Perez etc etc).

 The programme featured a bit about misogyny in comedy (last year at the Edinburgh Fringe was apparently dubbed the 'year of the rape joke') and featured amongst other things an interview with a comedian called Brendon Burns. He apparently features a lot of sexist jokes in his act and made the point that (I'm paraphrasing but this is the gist) nothing and no one, no group of people, should be off limits in comedy, women aren't a 'holy cow' he said.

 I completely agree with this. I do honestly think absolutely anything has potential to be funny if approached the right way, and nothing should be off limits. Women, rape, the lot. (I've never actually heard a funny rape joke but i will keep a beady out). There should be no 'holy cow'. I have enjoyed hours of stand-up which explores, in an intelligent and original way, some of the areas of life which people are often afraid to talk about for fear of causing upset (see case in point: Stewart Lee and his hallucinatory tales of meeting Jesus...)

 So why did i find the clips of Burns' sexist stand up routine so distasteful? Having agreed with his defence of his work, I got confused and briefly thought I was going to have to reassess my whole life. But then I realised, it wasn't that I found it offensive (I am almost impossible to offend through normal channels of common decency -believe me i've done tests - probably why I can find anything funny), it's just that his particular approach to women was lazy, unoriginal, and perpetrated the kind of boring stereotypes we have been hearing about for decades. It just wasn't very funny. It was like hearing jokes about Welsh people and sheep - you might snigger the first time, but after the 8654756886th you'll probably just sigh deeply and contemplate gnawing your own arm off.

 Maybe I don't dislike sexist jokes. But I definitely don't like bad comedy!

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