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Should comedians feel free to say what they like?

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Bryn
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Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:47 pm

Should comedians feel free to say what they like?

#1 Post by Bryn » December 8th, 2008, 9:34 am

"Comedians' role is to shock us and make us laugh." I've just heard this defence of Allen Carr on the Wright programme and wondered what other people thought.

Allen Carr won one of the British Comedy Awards recently and in his acceptance speech he dedicated it to Karen Matthews, the mother of Shannon Matthews, who's just been convicted of arranging her kidnap. Predictably, he's been roundly condemned but was what he said really that bad?

Source.

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jaywhat
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Re: Should comedians feel free to say what they like?

#2 Post by jaywhat » December 8th, 2008, 11:48 am

I find this one of those difficult ones. If we want total freedon of speech .....
...and as Junior Justice Minister Shahid Malik said the timing of Carr's remarks could not have been worse. (my italics)...
... I meant that perhaps it is the timing that is wrong. We now get jokes about Shipman and the various Rippers. Seems we need some time to pass, but I guess even then it is tasteless . . but can we ban tastelessness?

Zoe
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Joined: July 4th, 2007, 4:08 pm

Re: Should comedians feel free to say what they like?

#3 Post by Zoe » December 8th, 2008, 12:26 pm

No they shouldn't, if they want to be popular. Comedians need to engage their brains and cultivate good judgment about when to toe the line and when to cross it.

Much like the rest of us, really.

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Paolo
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Re: Should comedians feel free to say what they like?

#4 Post by Paolo » December 8th, 2008, 12:57 pm

Jokes about sensitive issues need a bit of time to allow the sting to be taken out of them - otherwise they are not funny, just cruel. The bigger the issue, the longer they need. I am using Southpark (Season 6, Episode 80) as my reference here, where they determine that AIDS is finally funny, since it has been around for 22.3 years.

Comedians have a difficult line to walk between being topical and alienating their audience. Not everybody has the same sense of humour, so there will always be casualities when a joke is mistimed.

Banning jokes, regardless of the taste, is not something I would agree with. If someone says something that people don't agree with, excercise your freedom of expression. Whatever happened to booing someone offstage? Comedians make their living by judging their audience correctly - if they get it wrong they lose their audience - no external censorship required.

MedMae
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Re: Should comedians feel free to say what they like?

#5 Post by MedMae » December 9th, 2008, 12:29 pm

My view is simple: If you don't like their jokes don't listen to them.

Comedians need an audience , thus it is a self regulating system. Comedians who are too offensive lose their audience, comedians who are just offensive enough gain bigger audiences. Regulation jokes would be an unnecessary waste of money. (on top of all the other unnecessary wastes of money involved in the government.)
Complexity is just simplicity multiplied to a point which exceeds a particular level of comprehension. - Theowarner

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Alan H
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Re: Should comedians feel free to say what they like?

#6 Post by Alan H » December 9th, 2008, 1:21 pm

MedMae wrote:Comedians who are too offensive lose their audience, comedians who are just offensive enough gain bigger audiences.
But many comedians who are racist and offensive, etc survive on the audiences they have and don't need bigger audiences: there are enough who like that kind of humour. Bernard Manning and Roy 'Chubby' Brown come to mind. The latter's website says he performs to 350,000 each year. There will always be people to listen to comedy that many others consider beyond the pale, so I don't think it can be self regulating.
Alan Henness

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MedMae
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Joined: March 14th, 2008, 9:46 am

Re: Should comedians feel free to say what they like?

#7 Post by MedMae » December 9th, 2008, 1:56 pm

Alan H wrote:
MedMae wrote:Comedians who are too offensive lose their audience, comedians who are just offensive enough gain bigger audiences.
But many comedians who are racist and offensive, etc survive on the audiences they have and don't need bigger audiences: there are enough who like that kind of humour. Bernard Manning and Roy 'Chubby' Brown come to mind. The latter's website says he performs to 350,000 each year. There will always be people to listen to comedy that many others consider beyond the pale, so I don't think it can be self regulating.
But if they did not perform then even fewer people would realise that racism still exists. Silencing racist people/comedians is not going to change racist people into non-racist people or prevent people becoming racist. I really don't see what silencing them would accomplish except push racism further underground, out of sight out of mind. No solution, just another disguise on the problem.
Complexity is just simplicity multiplied to a point which exceeds a particular level of comprehension. - Theowarner

kbell
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Re: Should comedians feel free to say what they like?

#8 Post by kbell » December 9th, 2008, 2:10 pm

MedMae wrote:My view is simple: If you don't like their jokes don't listen to them.
While I sympathise with this view when it comes to the likes of Bernard Manning, whose jokes had a definite theme to them, it doesn't protect us from comments like Allen Carr's, who didn't tell his 'joke' on his own show but as part of his acceptance speech at event that we might be watching in spite of him, rather than because of him. Or from Billy Connolly's 'joke' about the execution of Ken Bigley, which I thought was horribly crass and atypical of Connolly, who I generally find hilarious.

I don't think any subject should be taboo for comedians but I agree that timing is everything and I agree with Zoe that, for their own sakes, comedians (and all people in the public eye) need to think carefully about whether a particular joke is appropriate at a particular time or ever.
Kathryn

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