By Ben Pensant
To say we’re living through a golden age of British comedy is the biggest understatement since evil warmonger Alastair Campbell said PM Corbyn did ‘pretty well’ deflecting Paxman’s aggressive line of questioning on The Battle For Number Ten. (Show me a more statesmanlike performance this year and I’ll show you a Blairite with a conscience, knobhead.) Everywhere you look, from BBC2 to Channel 4, genuinely funny men, women, xen and xomen are conquering the world. And their neat trick of combining edgy humour with bland identity politics has earned the sharpest minds working today a special place in progressive hearts. (At least until we find out most of them are tax avoiders or secret Tories.)
The evidence is overwhelming: Corbynmania has been heartily embraced by witty thinkers, clever polemicists and Josie Long. Have I Got 8 Out Of 10 Cats For You regularly features the safest comics around cracking impromptu gags about how stupid working-class people are. The campaign to overturn Brexit is passionately supported by everyone from a cross-dressing motor-mouth so liberal he tells jokes in foreignish to a wine-loving Oxford graduate with a penchant for leather and dungeons. All of which made even sweeter the recent news that Newcastle Theatre Royal had cancelled a performance by notorious blue ‘comedian’ Ray ‘Fatty’ Brown.
For the uninitiated, Brown has played Newcastle City Hall every year since 1939. Recently taken over by the management of the nearby Theatre Royal, the City Hall has long been regarded as the retarded nephew to the Royal’s erudite uncle. While the jewel of Grey Street recently hosted Opera North’s spellbinding revival of Der Rosenkavalier by Strauss, the City Hall currently holds the record for holding the most ever performances in a year by Ocean Colour Scene.
Hence the drive to rebrand the venue as a safe, inclusive space for middle-class people of all backgrounds rather than a threatening, lager-stained flea-pit swarming with racist degenerates watching an overweight bigot in flying goggles attacking Muslims and singing about cocks.
Theatre Royal Trust chief executive Philip Bernays – who I was shocked to learn was educated at the prestigious City Of London School – released a statement confirming that ‘after careful consideration’ Brown’s 2017 show had been pulled due to its ‘unpleasant, rude and offensive act’. This careful consideration presumably consisted of the five minutes it took to decide whether adults who’ve paid money to watch a show should be allowed to watch the show they’ve paid money for or denied the right to watch it because it upsets people who haven’t paid money to watch it and have no intention of doing so.
Thankfully the correct decision was reached. It’s just a shame the ungrateful idiots who were planning to watch Brown have no idea how close their tiny minds came to being warped by a vile man in a multi-coloured suit fond of using hateful words like ‘fanny’.
Because it’s not just Google who love to penalise people for saying stuff they don’t like: charity-funded theatre companies are joining in too, ensuring that a comedian who has played the same venue for several decades is banned because his violent language offends yoga instructors from Gosforth.
And there’s nothing more violent than what comes out of Brown’s mouth. For this animal has inexplicably stolen a career since the ’70s making the kind of horrendous ‘quips’ that would get him arrested were he to utter them in Waitrose. Don’t believe me? Check out the joke below but be warned: its aggressive content and rape-apologism are triggering in the extreme. Even after re-wording it to soften the edges its grim depiction of post-Brexit Britain is about as palatable to middle-class ears as a night at the dogs with Danny Dyer. I urge you to have 999 ready on speed dial:
One morning a young boy asks his father: ‘Dad, what’s a cunt?’. He is shocked and scolds his son but after the child persists agrees to show him. Upstairs, the man’s wife is asleep. He and his son enter the bedroom, careful not to wake her. The father quietly pulls back the duvet, revealing his wife’s naked body. ‘You see that furry triangle between her legs?’. ‘Yes, dad’ replies the boy. ‘That’s a fanny. Your mother’s a cunt’.
Evil. And disturbingly, only the tip of the iceberg. Indeed, it should worry us all that material like this is being broadcast to impressionable Leave voters and inadvertently offending innocent people tucked away in leafy Jesmond eating Kale doughnuts and encouraging their four-year old sons to cut their genitals off.
Because these are the people who matter, not those who make the autonomous choice to go and watch someone who makes them laugh. Frankly, the Theatre Royal showed remarkable restraint only banning Brown – there was ample grounds to report him to MI6 or Interflora. Because it beggars belief that in 2017 this relic is allowed to swan around in a multi-coloured suit cracking sick jokes to adult customers while flinging horrific insults at women, minorities and anyone else he perceives as inferior. The fat, speccy bastard.
Thank god modern day comics would never attach themselves to such vile ideologies. So while Brown pokes fun at Islam and terrorism – which have as much to do with each other as Labour and anti-Semitism – daring progressives like Frankie Boyle campaign for the release of Shaker Aamer, the hapless British/Saudi charity worker and former Gauntanamo detainee who famously got lost and wandered into an Afghanistan warzone in possession of a fake passport, an AK47 and an acute form of memory loss which conveniently erased the name of the charity he worked for.
Another defender of the cuddly jihadist was Sara Pascoe who cleverly combines her feminism with supporting a Labour leader who lauds regimes that force women to wear headscarves and counts Ibrahim Hewitt – a man who believes in stoning adulterous women to death – as a ‘very good friend’. She also wrote a moving piece for The Guardian last year urging people to boycott a transphobic film she’d never seen because it featured Dirk Benedict out of Young Sherlock in a dress.
Elsewhere, Stewart Lee – the thinking man’s Terry Christian – flaunts his progressive values by supporting Stop The War, the cheekily named pressure group who don’t actually want to stop wars so much as want anyone but the West to win them. Stew has been known to join giants of comedy – and Jeremy Hardy – at fundraisers for STW, who famously gushed over the brave Iraqi resistance as they demonstrated their dedication to core principles like democracy and worker’s rights by bombing polling stations and murdering trade unionists.
And who could forget the raft of stand-up stars led by Jenni Éclair who were so disgusted by fictional wideboy Dapper Laughs mentioning the word ‘rape’ they started a petition urging ITV2 to cancel his show? Their bravery is an inspiration to us all. Because as we know, censoring a fellow comedian is nowhere near as illiberal or problematic as creating a character who says dodgy stuff to women or writing a song about Dolly Parton’s tits.
But if City Hall want to fill Fatty’s slot they could do worse than book guitar-wielding funnyman Mitch Benn, the principled Remainer who recently electrified Twitter by breaking with modern comedy tradition and launching an intolerant tirade against stupid Brexit voters:
‘I have to suck up living in a shit country *for the rest of my life* because you don’t like Belgians’ he raged, highlighting the widespread anti-Benelux hatred that has scarred Britain since it became a popular destination for economic migrants from the Low Countries. The fact that Mitch doesn’t have to live anywhere and is free to leave this godforsaken country any time he likes – seriously, Mitch, we’ll get by – is irrelevant. Because in leftist-land no-one is in charge of their own destiny, not even mediocre musical comedians. And especially not thick-as-a-brick voters:
‘RE: The will of the people. When is someone in public life gonna have the guts to admit that the people got it wrong?’. Indeed, the silence on this front has been so deafening it’s easy to forget how many columnists, politicians and idiot celebrities have spent the last year screaming ‘the people got it wrong!’. Either way, a more suitable replacement for Brown’s orgy of filth you’d struggle to find. And if the Theatre Royal bussed in a few coachloads of day-tripping pensioners there’s no reason Mitch couldn’t attract a third of the sell-out crowds Fatty used to pull in.
But this whole saga has reminded me how proud I am of my hometown, despite the fact that this decision was made by people who know as much about my hometown as I do about sandals and mung-beans. Indeed, from sinister strip clubs to tacky restaurants where waitresses are forced to wear skimpy orange shorts, Newcastle has a noble history of stopping things that upset progressives. And like every censor in history, the brave art teachers and Gender Studies students protesting these establishments weren’t doing it for their own benefit; they were doing it for those poor wretches who aren’t art teachers or Gender Studies students.
Because you can’t just stay away from bars and clubs you don’t like. No, you have to stop everyone else visiting them too. Like anti-Page 3 campaigners who don’t read The Sun, these brave feminists wouldn’t be seen dead in Hooters or For Your Eyes Only but have decided what goes on behind their doors – consenting adults drinking beer, taking their clothes off and eating fried chicken – is unacceptable. And, when combined with the presence of working-class men, practically an invitation to commit rape and murder.
As for the women who allow themselves to be abused for the gratification of men, well, if they learnt to take orders from their betters we wouldn’t still be having this tiresome conversation. In a perfect world they’d stop watching Geordie Shore for five minutes, take those footballers’ cocks out of their mouths and listen to the educated feminists who preach about the objectification of women yet happily objectify strippers and models by reducing them to lobotomised pieces of meat too stupid to know they’re being exploited.
But, alas, this isn’t a perfect world, hence these bozos have been indoctrinated by the patriarchy into believing they sell their souls to photographers and Chinese businessmen because they want to. (And they say us ‘libtards’ are the deluded ones.) So there you have it: misogyny has become so normalised these women actually feel grateful every time an alpha male points a camera at their bare arse or stuffs a tenner down their knickers.
And the fact that closing strip clubs and banning Page 3 might result in people losing their jobs is irrelevant to the modern left. Owen Jones – the Millennial Mary Whitehouse – has built a career out of sticking up for worker’s rights yet spends half of his time on social media demanding people are sacked. Do you really think he and his ilk will lose any sleep over the livelihood of a barmaid who works in a club they’ll never visit? Or a model who flashes her wares in a paper they’ve never read? Or a Google employee who is blacklisted and fired for writing a memo so terrifying his colleagues were too scared to go to work? Or a roly-poly comedian who tells rude jokes they don’t get to people they despise in a city they’ll never understand?
Do me a favour. Next you’ll be telling me while Newcastle’s feminists were getting their organic knickers in a twist over strippers and waitresses there was some actual sexual exploitation going on that was being conveniently ignored.
(Photo: Barry Cheung)