Musings arguments and gig reports from your favourite Goth lesbian transsexual vegan recovering alcoholic and drug addict sceptic rationalist atheist comedian chameleon and caricature.

Monday 12 August 2013

Yes I did yes I did, won't someone please tell them who the eff I is.

I'm sat here with writer's block, I turn to my partner, Sanna, who says to me "You talk about things all the time, just write about that."  Which is helpful, and one of the reasons I love her so much, than and that over the weekend when we were bored in a hotel we drew beards and moustaches on Sanna said "I look like a fat paedophile!"  I giggled and she said "Are you calling me fat?"  Because obviously that's the more offensive thing to be called.

It's difficult to think of things to write, simply because even when I try to talk about things that are serious I try to keep it light, try to keep it funny.  In a week it'll be 9 years since I Started doing stand up comedy.  A lot has changed in that time, some things have stayed the same, my heart still dies a little inside when someone comes up to me after a gig (as happens about 3 times a week now) and goes "I don't normally find women funny but you were great."  9 times out of 10 it's a woman who says that and I know it's supposed to be a compliment, but it really isn't, I've never asked any of my black or asian comedian friends if they get the same, I think that we've moved on enough with racism in this country that people know not to go up to people like Daliso Chaponda who I was gigging with at the weekend in Nottingham and go "You know, I don't normally find black people funny, but you were great!"  Maybe it's not racism, maybe there isn't that cultural stereotype that black people aren't funny.  Does Tiger Woods get it?  "I don't normally think that black people are any good at golf but you've got quite a swing on you."  Of course they don't it's patronising as fuck.

It's essentially going "Before I saw you, I made a snap decision that you wouldn't be able to do the job that you're clearly getting paid to do and you know what?  My prejudice was proved wrong, but rather than admit that's what it is, I'm going to tell you that that's an anomaly and that you're clearly the funny female comic."    I call it the Jo Brand effect.  Basically for about 10 years Jo Brand was the only female comic on TV, and she was there for a reason, she was fucking awesome.  But comedy's subjective, we all like different things just as we like different bands.  I'm currently sat writing this and listening to psychobilly music thinking "I don't know why Horrorpops don't regularly top the charts when Justin Bieber does."  But that's because it's entirely subjective.  After a few minutes of listening to Reverend Horton Heat the average teenager wants to shit in their own ears.

Now imagine if the only female singer you heard on the radio or saw on the TV for the best part of 20 years was Nicki Minaj.  I love Nicki Minaj, but if I only heard her, I'd get sick pretty fucking sharpish.  After about 7 years of only listening to the Trinidadian teen idol I'd hate her.  And then probably by the 20 year mark I'd be going "I hate all female singers."  If after that I went to see a band and the support act had a female singer I'd probably tut and go "It'll all be singing for the boys with the booming systems, top down AC with the cooling systems, coming in the club like he's blazing up, with stacks of money out like he's saving up."  And then be surprised when it was Amanda Palmer, or Florence off of Florence and the Machine, or Patsy Cline, Or Lynette Morgan.

This is what it's like with comedy, whenever you ask someone who tells you they don't like female comics which ones they've seen they can maybe give you a list of 3, of which they usually agree that they do quite like one of them.

As a comic when you go out on to a stage at pretty much any gig, unless you're doing your own show where people have specifically paid to watch you that they haven't the first clue who you are and they make a snap judgement.  It happens to everyone  If you look like they imagine a comic should look you've got a bit of leeway,  if you look funny, you've got a bit of leeway.  but generally in the UK at least there's this national identity where we're often sat there going "Think you're funny do you fucker?  I'll be the judge of that!"

It's hilarious when comics come to the UK for the first time from the US and don't realise that in spite of the fact we share a language we really could not have a more opposite attitude, so in the US where they try to front sell it, "This act has been on Last Comic Standing on NBC, they've written for a number of comedy central shows and won an MTV award for most promising writer..."  Your American audience is going "Fuck this dude must be AWESOME I love him already!"  Your British audience is going "Cunt."

the UK is the only nation where the MC at a comedy gig tells the audience to applaud an act on to the stage.  You know why that is?  Because we're the only country that has to.  I learned that the hard way, the only thing lonelier than walking off a stage to the sound of your own footsteps is walking on to the sound of your own footsteps.

There's been another comedy boom it's on every channel all the time, even PM on Radio four has got in on it.  The world's gone to shit so we all like a laugh.

Female comics are awesome, there are as many different types of female comics as there are comics.

I happen to talk about personal stuff that I find funny, being gay features highly on that because it's fucking hilarious, at least, the way I do it. (it's not you fuck like a god. - Sanna.  That's why I call my left hand Mj√∂lnir - Beth)  When I started out I wanted to be political.  I wanted to be angry railing against injustice, highlighting stupidity and inequality. 

Turns out I get so angry and upset that I can't make anything funny out of it.

The time we live in it's never been more important to be political, we have vans going round the UK telling foreigner to go home.  We used to just leave that job to Prince Philip or the BNP (Ironic that they should actually have their jobs taken off them, and by other racists as it happens.)

We have the UK Boarder Agency stopping people at tube stations asking them if they've got the right to stay here.  Though oddly they're less keen to ask the staff at the various Walkabout pubs if their visas are current.

Greece has slid into full on fascism, LGBT people there are being arrested, attacked and imprisoned.  Same in Russia.  Switzerland has now brought in apartheid, how surprised are we going to be if they kick off?  No one has prepared for that.

The whole system is fucked,  In the UK our chancellor is trying to cut £11bn from public services, because our country is clearly such a crazy futuristic Utopia that we can afford to do that, kids are going hungry, old people are freezing to death, our neoliberal experiment that started with Thatcher has played out and it turns out it was bullshit.  and yet we have a Labour party who don't know what they stand for because they're shitting it that if they in any way say "Look ruining the lives of the majority of people in order to sell off the last of our public services to vested interests, (such as the father in law of the chancellor who lobbies on behalf of the fracking industry) might be a bad thing"  that the press and the electorate will crucify them.

It's terrifying.  It really is, and I can't make anything funny out of it because my rage is so impotent, it feels like I might as well get angry at the weather.  The only reaction to it I can give as a comedian is as The Comedian from Watchmen.

In light of this it seems churlish to try to be funny, but in the end it's all I've got.  It's a double edged sword, simultaneously You're the one who gets to say the unsayable, to point out the ridiculous truth at the core of the illusion that we all build our daily lives round, but you're just a comic, these are just jokes so no one's going to take it seriously.

In medieval times jesters were often mentally ill people who got to be the only people to insult the king, to tell them the truth and it was okay because they were mentally ill and they were being funny.

Some things never change.

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