Saturday, 12 February 2011

Some people need a sense of humour

Comedy is a hard business, I can understand that.  After all, it's difficult to cater for a wide audience with different opinions on what's funny.  I myself boast a sometimes strange sense of humour (according to people around me, and my bad/odd attempts at jokes).  There are times though where jokes are little more than attacks on people and then the lines of humour blur.  I refer to the infamous BBC event known as "Sachsgate", where comedians Jonathon Ross and Russell Brand had phoned up Andrew Sachs, an elderly actor and started ragging on him about his grandaughter and making very lewd and crude comments that no grandfather wants to hear.  Especially whilst live on radio air time.  Now, whilst it may be a "harmless" prank call, it did distress someone who is basically a pensioner in the name of comedy - that leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

However, that leads me onto something else.  Reading this article on Yahoo News, I can't help but wonder whether people need to lighten up just a tad.  I happen to be a fan of Top Gear; whilst my knowledge of automotives barely goes beyond identifying different models, the humour and stunts in the series makes it for some very entertaining viewing.  Whilst watching the series, you also become familiar with the humour the presenters have - brash, laddish, quite often crude but good-natured.  I mean, c'mon!  Jeremy Clarkson is not exactly known for his tact and finesse with the English language!  The editor highlighted a particular piece of dialogue that actually had me in stitches and wish I caught this particular episode.
Hammond: ...Cars reflect national characteristics, don't they, so German cars are very well built and ruthlessly efficient, Italian cars are a bit flamboyant and quick, a Mexican car's just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight... leaning against a fence asleep, looking at a cactus, with a blanket with a hole in the middle as a coat.
May: It is interesting, isn't it, because they can't do food, the Mexicans, can they? Because it's all like sick with cheese on it, I mean...
Hammond: Refried sick!
May: Yeah, refried sick.
Hammond: I'm sorry, but just imagine waking up and remembering you're Mexican: 'awww, no'.
Clarkson: No, it'd be brilliant... because you could just go straight back to sleep again.
Okay, so they went after the stereotype of Mexicans.  So what?  We're all guilty of using a stereotype to make jokes about particular groups - the English can't cook and are uptight, the French are pompous chickens, the Germans are no-nonsense doms, the Italians are very...metrosexual.  And it maybe that they hate Mexican food, and whilst I love the stuff, it can sometimes look less than appetising (presentation is the key - it's so easy to make a nice burrito fall apart into a gloopy, meaty, spicy mess that does sometimes look like it was digested once already).  Now, that exchange doesn't strike me as anything spicy or controversial.  The only shocking thing on there to me was that most of it was Hammond and not Clarkson!  Whilst browsing about the Internet on this, I did come across one youtube video of a Mexican giving his own commentary about the storm in a teacup.

I will conceed on one point he made - yes, the stereotype used was an American born one and you can accuse the Top Gear team in being lazy with their jokes.  But really, a stereotype's purpose is supposed to be a quick caricature of a group that everyone can recognise and unfortunately for this guy, this does mean that we Brits are more familiar with the American version.  Perhaps he could petition one of the more upper brow comedians to make a higher class of stereotypical joke - Stephen Fry comes to mind but I think he's still trying to dig himself out of his Japan shaped hole. 

It seems people just want an excuse to be angry or outraged nowadays for no reason.  Okay, so these three boy-men are on the world stage now thanks to Internet TV, but I think they wouldn't do too bad in showcasing British humour.  Next to other classic British examples Frankie Boyle or Al Murray, I think these three boys are pretty tame.  Let them have their playground humour and let's laugh with them.

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