Thursday, December 14, 2006

Not funny fat men, gorgeous put downs and being oblivious

Not much TV to report on from last night. I had to crack on with an article I needed to get finished to send off this morning so I had a rummage through my old CDs, stuck on something antiquarian (1993 - practically prehistoric) and got my head down. By the time I'd done Huw Thingy from the Beeb One News was saying "Newsnight is just beginning on BBC 2, but for us at the..." I turned over, and sure enough, he was right. So I watched a bit of that and caught up with what's been happening in the world.
I've been a bit slack with the old current affairs of late. My head has been thinking about fiction, nice clothes and whether or not to have one last stab at growing my hair before the inevitable slide into slappery. This has been no bad thing I've discovered. I've been an awful lot more content in myself, completely oblivious of what's going on. This reminds me of a checkout girl we once had in Sainsburys. About a week after the Tsunami the other year she was scanning our newspaper when she looked at the agonised pictures of victims families on the front and asked us what the problem was. We told her what had happened, even explaining what a Tsunami was in the process. Her verdict ;
"God, all that just like, from a wave ?"
The lightbulb briefly went on, then flashed off again, and you could see she'd gone back to thinking about that nice lad down the road who keeps smiling at her, and whether or not she could afford those new boots from Faith. There is so much suffering in the world I can't say I totally blame people who take no interest in it. I know people who go completely the other way and are so consumed by the endless grief of our existence that they forget to smile occassionally, have a dance and not worry. We're the lucky ones living where we do with the lifestyles we have. Countless millions across the globe would love to be able not to have to fret about their daily bread.
Anyway back to the pointy nosed Paxo and the Newsnight massive. Last night he was joined by the man of letters, Christopher Hitchens. He's the pro Iraq war guy, brother of the preposterous Peter, and the man for whom George Galloway reserved one of his best put downs. Calling Chris Hitchens to his face " a drink soaked, ex-trotyskist popinjay" was a stroke of genius in my book. To then follow it, with "look at you, you're sweating man, your hands are shaking for want of a drink", just confirmed my opinion that maybe attempting to rattle Galloway is never the best policy. Hitchen's meekly responded, "you're not a very nice man are you."
To be fair to Gorgeous, Hitchens had set about attempting to heckle him. If you do that you're clearly going to be in the firing line for a verbal volley. Hitchens is currently contending that women are just not very funny. Female comedians in his book are usually either "fat, dykey or Jewish". They can't make us laugh apparently and it's all because of the penetrative imperative. Men need to make women laugh to assert their sexual dominance. When women laugh apparently they throw their heads back in imitation of the female orgasm, and to quote the guy himself "men just don't orgasm or laugh like that".
Where do you begin with something as choice as that eh ? If you've not seen Hitchens, he's a sweaty little fat man, with huge bags under his eyes. To make matters worse he always comes across as pretty charmless. If you thought life has dealt him a rough hand, think again. Enough people find him erudite and witty to sustain him in the role of international commentator on stuff, even though what he has to say is usually not very original or interesting. I've heard the women can't tell jokes line before from a Mancunian intellectual by the name of Bernard Manning. He also has weight issues.
Let's go back to the "fat, dykey or Jewish" line. It could quite easily be maintained that many male comics are fat, camp or Jewish. Just take a look at the Little Britain guys for example who succesfully manage to combine all three. It's something in the nature of marginality that exercises the comic response from an early age. You learn to be funny to cope with the crap. Sadly for Hitchens, despite being fat, he's not very funny. There is also something about the comic tradition of trangression within that. Unlikely people doing unlikely things is funny as it challenges social norms and expectations in a non-threatening way. So Matt Lucas dressed as a teenage girl is funny to some people, likewise Dawn French as George Michael. It's the reason people go to the panto to see a middle-aged man dressed as an outlandish woman, and an attractive woman pretending to be a male love interest. That less women attempt to make careers from comedy goes without saying, but is that down to being naturally less funny in some kind of biological or social sense, or just down to the fact that the lifestyle of a comic appeals less to them. That many men feel threatened by funny women is fairly certain. Having been at comedy clubs where heckling blokes have thrown all kinds of misogynistic rubbish at the woman on stage only to receive a satisfyingly caustic put-down, I can vouch for having seen that inferiority complex in action. Lots of blokes just do not like the idea of a woman being funnier, therefore smarter than they are. Having also been out with groups of women on a night out, I've usually returned exhausted at the level of verbal sparring that takes place. In fact not really that different to groups of blokes. My mum is naturally the funniest person I know. She always has me in hysterics with the stuff she comes out with. Her funny faces, her mimicry, her ability to point out the absurd in everything she sees. Rach generally keeps me laughing as well.
One of the smartest, most observants bits of comedy I saw this year was the one-off special of The Royle Family. Written by a woman whose neither fat, dykey or Jewish, just brilliant. In thirty years time people will be still be watching re-runs of the Royle Family in their millions. Whereas Christopher Hitchens will be...where exactly ?

No comments: