You might be relieved to know this is not going to be a long one this week. I have got way too much to do this Sunday and, to be honest, I didn’t really know what I was going to talk about. From where I am sitting I can see into the downstairs loo and I know, that at some point today I have to turn off the water and try to replace the flush and ballcock.
Just promise me that no-one will tell my insurance company when I inevitably get it wrong and flood the house.
I was lying in bed this morning, (Not laying, I was told off on Twitter about that this week.) wondering what had crossed my path during the week that I’d like to explore. Most of it is far too depressing, the world is not a happy place right now and we seem, as a global commune, to be trying to make it worse. But I remembered one thing that made me laugh this week, made me laugh a lot, but also did that wonderful thing of making me think as well. There was sketch on the Tracey Ullman show a couple of weeks ago, and it went viral this week. A woman police officer is interviewing a man who has been mugged. He’s a nice young man in a suit and the officer implies that perhaps he was dressed provocatively, in a nice suit, inviting being robbed and that perhaps he’d been drinking and giving out the wrong signals.
It was, of course, a thinly veiled stab at how woman are often treated by the police and media after a sexual assault, victim shaming and implying they brought it upon themselves. It ends with a pay off gag which I just loved. I don’t know if you enjoy a little Font based humour as much as I do, but implying that using Helvetica is leading someone on was sublime. The sketch was written by Gemma Arrowsmith, who I know of a little. She co-hosts, with Susan Harrison, an improvised comedy podcast called Two Stars, where they play two insufferably pretentious arts reviewers. It might not fit everyone’s taste, but the improvisation is great and occasionally you get that lovely moment where someone starts getting the giggles, which I find utterly charming. It’s an effect they use often on Mrs Brown’s Boys, breaking the fourth wall to imply something has gone awry, except, in that case it’s clearly all pre-planned and staged and falls flat on it’s face. In my opinion at least.
But that sketch just goes to show the power of comedy. There have been god knows how many heartfelt, beautifully written pieces written about victim shaming. But one five minute sketch can communicate the principle and change minds, in a way a thousand word essay can’t.
Look at Donald Trump. Sorry, I should have warned you to prepare for that. Hundreds of thousands of people have hurled abuse at him on-line. Page after page, programme after programme have been produced pointing out his legion of faults, his apparently limitless stupidity and ignorance and it’s all water off a duck’s back. But what really grinds his gears? Alec Baldwin’s impersonation of him on Saturday Night Live. He throws a little hissy fit after every time they do one. Good comedy when it’s also good satire can change how a country thinks. Remember John Major’s puppet on Spitting Image, that probably did lasting damage to his reputation. (Although I suspect Margaret Thatcher probably would have quite liked hers.)
So, I guess the moral of the story is, don’t throw insults or stones, throw puns instead. Land punchlines not punches. Change the world with a smile on your face.
Anyway, I’m off now to fetch the waders from the shed and try to find the stop cock. Whatever else, plumbing is funny right?
PS Just as a post script, I was wondering, can Right Wing comedy ever be really funny? The only right wing comedians I can think of indulge in the ‘I’m not saying my wife is ugly…’ type comedy. Just something to muse on.