‘Telling it like it is’

The comedian Stewart Lee has attracted controversy for his Jerry Springer show and more recently for his comments about Top Gear presenters – although he will be remembered mainly for his role as Pliny in the amazing ‘Histore’s Eye’.

He has been interviewed in the weekend paper. Highlights:

The Top Gear section of his three-act show is an intricate and carefully choreographed argument against the current drift of popular culture towards boorishness and casual cruelty disguised as irony.

‘It’s interesting to me that apparently distasteful comments from the right against weak targets tend to draw a lot less media fire than apparently distasteful comments from the left against hard targets. That’s one of the threads that runs through the show and that people hopefully pick up on.’

‘I’m now in the position of having to justify myself against the fearless young men of comedy,’ says Lee, referring to fellow comedian Frankie Boyle’s recent assertion that fortysomething comedians are too old to be edgy. ‘The thing about most of those professionally offensive comedians, though, is that no one is ever actually offended. Everyone understands the parameters and operates within them, the audience and the performer.[‘]

Which made me think of Rod Liddle’s recent Spectator post. Now I don’t want to start a Twitterstorm, or whatever it’s called: the Spectator is entitled to publish what it likes. But, well, see what you think.

What gets me is that Liddle clearly couldn’t give a fuck about this girl, or her baby, or anyone involved in the case. He’s just using the situation to make a political point, as you can see from his ‘ironic’ title, ‘Benefits of a multi-cultural Britain’. What’s more, it’s a point that clearly wasn’t worth making in the first place.

Does Liddle believe what he writes? Maybe. Or perhaps all he wants to do is ‘provoke’, ‘annoy the liberals’; maybe he’s imagining some caricature of a Guardian reader busy getting offended somewhere, and thrashing his hands together. Maybe the whole purpose of the post was to bring a little nastiness into someone’s day.

Alex Massie has a good response:

My word! How daring! How delightfully refreshing to see someone trot out the kind of tired, stale prejudice you can find in thousands of boozers across the country! Or at any BNP meeting, for that matter.

Rod Liddle: tired golf-club wisdom about an entire ethnic group dressed up as playful subversion.


One Response to “‘Telling it like it is’”

  1. Rachel Fox Says:

    I saw Frankie Boyle ‘live’ a while back. His material was so repetitive…even he looked bored by it at times. I don’t dislike his whole act/persona/show but I do agree with Lee that’s it’s just as predictable as much of the comedy that is seen to have less edge.
    Have never read the Spectator. And I guess I never will.

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