Funny thing, taking the piss.
Because it’s absolutely central to our culture – being able to laugh at ourselves and at others.
But only to a point of course. Because only certain piss taking is permissible – and this is a very quick guide.
Taking the piss out of one self (self-deprecation) – this is good and entirely permissible – indeed, this is the safest form of piss taking.
But when taking the piss out of other people – the sensible advice is to always trade upwards.
By this, I mean take the piss only out people on a par and preferably above you on a social scale.
And AVOID minorities unless you happen to be a member of this minority yourself.
So fat people – can take the piss out of fat people. And we like to laugh at fat people, so this is fertile comedy ground. Gay people can take the piss out of gay people and we like to laugh at gay people… (Duncan Norvelle, Danny La Rue, Julian Clarey, Alan Carr…) Black people can take the piss out of black people. Women can take the piss out of women… and so it goes on.
But for people not in a minority – trading up is the safe way forward.
So rich/er people are always fair game.
But poor people are not – which explains why so many very middle class (and rich) comedians conjure themselves in to characters from a poor background in order to take the piss out of poor people – and so we can all laugh at poor people.
Powerful people are equally fair game and especially Americans.
Whatever the insult leveled at Americans – the very stringent laws of racism do not apply because America is powerful nation – so presumably they can take it and they also deserve what they get – rich bastards?
Similarly this applies to other first world nations. The French are a good example. Call the French practically anything and its fine. Cowards, arrogant, deodorant hating lazy bastards, whatever, they’re French, so fuck em.
Similarly Germans, Aussies…
Colour is a factor here of course – the most treacherous and zero-tolerance ground of all. The safest policy being that a white person should avoid saying anything ever about anyone of any colour whatsoever.
Back in the day when I toured with the great Eddie Izzard – he was coming out as a transvestite at the time and typical of a man so far ahead of his time – in his act he used to say something like – ‘…as a comic, I am white, I am middle class and I am heterosexual… so thank God I am a transvestite…’
I think his actual point was the need to have an angle – to stand out from the crowd – but I extrapolate to include the PC lobby that terrorizes us all nowadays.
Because for anyone in the business of being funny – it’s a tough gig being white, male, middle class, heterosexual and married – because we have less targets that I can aim at.
So is this a moan?
Do I lament that I can’t take the piss out of fat, black, gay people? No of course I don’t – but I do think that the worst kind of bully is the sanctimonious liberal and that political correctness has good intentions but pernicious consequences albeit unintentional.
To demonstrate my point – I need to describe two occurrences at gigs – one of which I was at and the other I was told about.
Firstly, the gig I was at.
It was a very tough corporate gig. Lunchtime, outdoors and with a largely disinterested crowd in very professional and well to do Chiswick Business Park.
I was part of a bill with four other comics – with me at the end and getting more and more anxious as I watched very good acts before me getting very little return. The comic directly before me is a black comic.
Of the crowd of say 150 people – all enjoying the sun but less so the comedy – he singles out the only black face in the crowd. The man is wearing a suit, presumably because his job requires one.
‘Hey blood…’ the comic began. ‘Got a brother in the house, what the fuck man. What are you doing wearing a suit? Don’t pretend like you’ve got a fucking job. What
This got a tepid laugh but even so, much more than it deserved and I recall thinking at the time – how offensive for the man in the audience who might have been a CEO for all we know.
I was chatting to a well known rugby player – whose kid is at a middle class state primary with a crowd of committed and predominantly white parents. He was effusive about a comedy gig that the school had put on and particularly so a black comic whose opening line went thus…
‘Hey, a lot of white people innit – although we have some Asians in the house. You’ve done well to get here on time. You must have shut the shop early?’
Apparently, he went on to ‘storm’ the gig after such a ‘great’ opening line. But I wonder how the Asian couple felt – who might well have been surgeons or accountants… I expect they laughed along with everyone else because somehow these are the rules and this is how they are applied.
And while it lasts – any comic from any minority – fill your boots with piss easy laughs.