Anyway, on this comedy topic, I’d like to add to the comments on the last post:
Broadening it to include comic actors and actresses – Dave Allen, Hattie Jacques, Joan Sims, Wiggia mentions Ken Dodd, Cannon and Ball oop north, Benny Hill [though I found him tiresome], Kenny Everett, Frankie Howerd, Penelope Keith and Felicity Kendall. Hattie Jacques, Joan Sims – these weren’t offensive to large sections, they were either neutral or naughty/decent, they kept within limits and appealed across the lines – gender, race, north/south.
In America, there were universal names such as Bob Hope although what we know of his real life antics kills that a bit, Lucille Ball, Whoopi Goldberg, Danny de Vito, Leslie Nielson, a whole host of them – John Belushi and though they couldn’t all be called “nice” people, there was something essentially funny about them.
Even when a comedian of the old type played an unsympathetic curmudgeon, e.g. Victor Meldrew [Richard Wilson], it was funny. And what of Annette Crosbie? And we’ve not even mentioned Sid James, Eric Sykes, Harry Enfield, Del Boy, Arfur.
Even Python had eventual broad appeal as they touched on all topics and were equally irreverent on all.
Today, it does seem as if that jovial or at a minimum, deadpan comedy which did not exclude, delivered by masters of timing, has been replaced by essentially untalented people who seem to feel comedy means:
1. viciousness, particularly towards a specific person
3. general lack of personal decency and dignity.
Examples – Ricky Gervais, Marcus Brigstocke, that Brand person, Jimmy Carr . Paul Merton is line ball.
One thing which has killed women’s comedy stone dead is the Narrative. Oh my goodness they’re bores when they get onto that.
Jennifer Saunders and Victoria Wood were more generalist and could be funny but they’re dragged down by perceptions of women today, which are far less charitable than they formerly were. It’s unfair to judge a comedienne that way and much of that comedy is not gender specific – Joanna Lumley, for example – and yet overall, comediennes have had that extra hurdle created for them by the politically vicious.
IMDb listed “sassy, sharp tongued actress” as the attributes of the comedienne, precisely the attributes to turn off a man, unfunny in the extreme. No, why can’t comedienne mean just an observer of life without the feminist chip on the shoulder? Why can’t we laugh along with a female perspective, which is worlds away from feminist hatred?
Just looked at Sarah Silverman, much touted in the States and within a minute, she was into the “fucks” and foulmouthery. clicked straight out – you don’t want to hear that from a lady. It’s as sexy as tattoos.
Just looking now at Tina Fey. Someone she’s with just defined torture as spending three years married to James Cameron, whoever he is. That’s what I mean – viciousness directed at a specific person, rather than general comedy about a type. Pam Ayres did that with her husband routine – directed at one person and the bile comes out.
That’s not comedy.
Can you think of one recent comedian or comedienne who would have universal appeal across the genders, ages and geographical positions in the country?
In a few hours, I’m doing a piece on Pippa. I’m wondering if you’d be able to detect that, despite having a go at her, I do like much about her and enjoy the Pippa phenomenon? Perhaps you won’t see any difference between that and bile spat at Pippa.
Reason I’m saying that is that some of the funniest Jewish jokes I’ve heard were from a Rabbi called Stephen Levi and the essential thing was that he loved his people but oh how they aggravated at times. He could get away with it. Coming from Abu Hook, it would no longer be comedy.
Coming back finally to Dave Allen, he mocked the formal church but he always did so from within the Irish fold, where there’s always a “special relationship”. You never heard bile from him, just wry observation.