comedy: agenda for change

Just in case some folk think I’m mostly concerned with defending comedy… I do believe it needs to change. That won’t happen just by shouting at it (that’s called heckling!).

So here, consultant hat on, are some constructive thoughts. Put up for criticism and definitely NOT the last word on the topic.

Know the beast

Comedy is not journalism. The latter may get it wrong. In theory, though, journalism is about accuracy and balance.

Comedy ain’t. It’s entertainment predicated for the most part on aggression and shared cliche. Occasionally insightful – and then more, i’d guess, by accident, its most successful proponents score brownie points for offensiveness.

Set realistic aims

Given the above, the idea that we could ever achieve a respectful trans comedy is nonsense. Possibly counter productive nonsense too.

It may be that the best we can do is educate about the most hurtful stuff, then stand back.

Know our enemy (and friends!)

Comics come in all shapes and sizes. They also have widely differing agendas, from the Jeremy Hardy types with political pretensions, to Royston ng Vaysey, for whom the end is all about box office.

It’s worth distinguishing

– friends (those whose politics or personal experience probably puts them in our camp…Sandy Toksvig, Tim minchin, maybe Miranda Hart).

– potential friends (those we think persuadable… Stephen fry)

– the couldn’t care less and the opportunists (perhaps David Walliams)

– the offense mongers (like Frankie Boyle)

In terms of strategy: cuddle the first, educate the second andscrew the rest.

Do not ovrrlook the “significant others”: script writers and key producers like Lissa Evans.

Never presume. In comedy, what you think you know may not be so.

Imvolve your audience

In this case, comedians are seen as the problem: they need to be part of the solution. Throwing insults and rotten tomatoes from the floor may satisfy. It won’t help.

It would be nice to get a few around a table, but suspect this will omly work for the small fry (no pun intended!).

Invite those likely to hear what we have to say. And be prepared to listen in turn

Focus on the persomal

Last up, lay off prescriptive stuff. Explain the hurt: explain how stage language re-appears on the streets… And keave it to them to decide.

We have no formal power here…our feelings are maybe our strongesr weapons.


Ok folks. Your turn to pull this apart.




2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Shirley Anne said,

    That’s got to be very much an uphill struggle, probably not worth pursuing. It will take a lot to change human nature. I suggest we embrace the humour rather than fight against it.

    Shirley Anne xxx

  2. 2

    circadian said,

    Apologies for this ramble – hopfully something will emerge from this verbiage (oo-er missus).
    I think one of the more important aspects was pointed out by Robert Heinlein in (I think) “Stranger in a Strange Land”. (At least, it was the first time I had seen it pointed out.) Humour is cruel. Sure, there is the “intellectual” style of wit based around puns and clever word play, but the most reward these usually achieve is a smile. The jokes that most often arouse a good laugh are the ones where someone really gets the short straw.
    A common theme is of course stupidity stereotypes. For the English, the Irish are the target, but most nationalities have the same type of humour, and usually a neighbouring country provides the butt of the jokes. Then there are the meanness stereotypes. Mother-in-law. “Yo’ mama”. Etc. Many stereotypes are used as a common language to base the routine around.
    So I guess I feel that your approach is the right one. Comedy picks up from the surrounding media and plays with the tones and subjects it finds there. To change the comedy routines, most likely there will be better success in targetting how transexuals are perceived within the media, rather than target comedy itself.
    I think comedy holds up a (warped) mirror to reality/perception. To change the image reflected through comedy, change the source image.

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