When it comes to jokes I have always concurred with Schopenhauer in his belief that there’s nothing funnier than the sudden apprehension of an incongruity between a general concept and a heterogenous object which is subsumed thereunder, and hence between what is abstract and what is perceptive.
When that happens I piss myself.
More Crap Jokes, Viz
Censorship is bad, isn’t it? The only people who like censorship are evil dictators and the totally, terminally uncool. Oh, and the stupid, who don’t know what’s good for them. So they can shut the fuck up. Only not in a “let’s all censor the stupid” way. That would be evil and stupid and uncool. I mean in a “they ought to shut up because nothing they have to say is of any value” way. I wouldn’t actively intimidate them into being silent, or at least not until massive peer pressure was proving ineffective and I was at risk of looking stupid by association.
Because I am cool and intelligent and so not an evil dictator (alas), I’m not about to start telling people what they should and shouldn’t find funny, or what they should and shouldn’t use as material for jokes. Not only would that make me look uncool and stupid, but I’d risk being like that totally stupid, uncool woman who challenged stand-up comedian Daniel Tosh on his assertion that rape jokes can be funny.*
This morning I was reading a piece in the Guardian about the Tosh incident, with many of the comments that followed aimed at defending Tosh’s right to free speech (yay!). Comments such as this:
The audience members[sic] job is to watch the show and keep their fucking mouth shut unless they are laughing or the comic has asked them a question.
(I am glad I rarely visit comedy clubs; they sound worse than job interviews.)
Of course rape is a horrible thing. If this was a debatable fact then where would the humor come from? As for the lady who got offended in the audience, she should have understood this to be the case. Even if she didn’t understand/like where the humor was in that sort of joke she should have kept her mouth shut.
Yeah, the thick, humourless loser! Who could possible think that rape being a horrible thing is “a debatable fact”? (People who joke about it in a crass, threatening manner? No, ’cause actually they’re way ahead of you on this; they’re “deconstructing” it all and you’re too much of a moron to notice.)
This just another prime example of how naive people are. Comedians are uncensored and should continue to benefit from that freedom. This lady should stay away from live comedy period.
Yay! Power to the comedians and their freedom of speech! Without the provision of “safe spaces” in which it’s okay to joke about rape without anyone being permitted to challenge you, where would we all be? Sometimes I think we should set up refuges for white, male comedians, so that they can be truly free to make as many edgy jokes as they like. Someone should set up a Jimmy Carr trust (Jimmy Carr, for instance).
See, what gets to me about all this is not the fact that people trivialise rape, or use humour to reinforce rather than undermine damaging assumptions about it. I mean, that bothers me, but in a global way; this is something more specific. It’s the way in which jokes and humour are presented as some kind of sacred ground, making any challenge necessarily unreasonable. Certain comedians – those with no fucking imagination, for instance – seem to amass whole cliques around them, desperate for edginess by association, and hence willing to bat down anyone who won’t toe the line. And such people like to suggest that saying something isn’t funny is tantamount to censorship; it isn’t. It’s saying something isn’t funny.
It has been argued that the woman in the Tosh incident’s real offence was heckling. Heckling is apparently a cardinal sin. Comedians should be allowed to say whatever they like, uninterrupted, otherwise the heckler is just spoiling it for everyone else. So it’s a question of etiquette. Fine. All the edgy, no-to-censorship, free-speech afficionados are actually just etiquette nerds. Frankly I find it bizarre that we live in a culture in which the House of Commons is a free-for-all, and a comedy club is a place where you laugh on demand or shut the hell up. Thank god the evil censors don’t have their way otherwise we’d be, um, behaving in exactly the same manner in which we are right now.
Perhaps I’m only saying this because I’m a feminist. Feminists are often accused of having no sense of humour. Personally, I find that funny. Hell, I found it so amusing the last time it happened to me, I changed the tag line of my blog. Even so, the “no sense of humour” accusation is usually an attempt to shut people up. It’s a failure to engage with difficult questions by telling someone they’re simply not up to understanding you and responding in the appropriate manner. It’s a cowardly way of avoiding debate and it’s certainly not amusing (but then I would say that).
Well, this is what I think: the “feminists have no sense of humour” brigade really need to shut the fuck up.
* Tosh’s follow-up to the heckle: “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, five guys right now? Like right now?” I know, it’s total comedy gold. You’re laughing, right? If not, I hate you and you have no right to be reading such a cool, intelligent, edgy blog.