Saturday, 31 July 2010

My sense of humour vs. Comedians, and the Brand/Ross/Sachs phone scandal

As most who know me are well aware, I am a great lover of comedy. I love comedy shows, comedy films, stand-up, even comedy music. I'm a big fan of several comedians, such as Bill Bailey, Billy Connolly, Michael McIntyre and basically everyone off Mock the Week. Comedy is such a wonderful medium of expression.

And it's just as wonderful when you analyse it, too; how many people can claim that they've devoted their lives to putting smiles on people's faces? To bringing joy to the world through the simple act of telling a joke? It seems to me like a truly fulfilling way to spend one's life. Humour is important to me, because it adds colour to life. It has the power to make people smile. It's an invaluable tool for bridging gaps between people.

I find myself instinctively liking and trusting people who can make me laugh. Perhaps that's because humour is such a personal thing; if we can communicate on that level, then perhaps I understand that we can communicate on other levels, too. Or maybe it simply reduces the level of formality between us, makes things more natural. All the people I surround myself with, all of the people whom I love have the ability to make me laugh, and I'm sure that I have the same ability with them. In many cases, it may be the method I used to gain their trust.

My own sense of humour can be esoteric and arcane or it can be universal; it can be light-hearted and jocular, or it can be withering. But all of my jokes share one thing, and that is my own personality, which is ultimately the place from which humour stems.

Perhaps it's natural that I find myself hailing many comedians as heroes, then. I really look up to men like Stephen Fry and Bill Bailey, partially for their intellect but mostly because of who they are. Many of my favourite musicians have a good sense of humour, too. I revere Devin Townsend as a musical genius, but I also really like him as a person from watching videos of him talk; much the same for Mikael Ã…kerfeldt, the frontman for Opeth, a progressive death metal band.

Now, all of this meandering preamble aside, I wanted to speak about a specific comedian: Russell Brand.

Before I continue, I'd like to make it clear that I love the man. I think he's utterly hilarious, a good man who has come through some hard times and still manages to come across as totally light-hearted during his shows.

However, if you took the script for his latest show, Scandalous, in its raw form and read through each line, you'd be struck by the lurid nature of his subject matter. It's loaded with provocative sex jokes and several quite affronting lines about famous people, and could potentially be called one of the most offensive things ever written thanks to a certain line about the American presidency.

But I just can't bring myself to be offended by Brand. In fact, I find him to be almost innocuous, despite his Michael Jackson jokes and talk of oral sex. I actually find him less offensive than, say, Ricky Gervais or Jimmy Carr. This is probably down to his happy-go-lucky demeanour, talking to the audience as though they are his confidants, which helps remind us of what he's doing: joking. Quite unlike the aforementioned two, who- while still being very funny- I find slightly unpleasant and vastly more offensive, because they come off as serious whilst doing the seedy bits.

Of course, as you have probably worked out, I've been building this up to a certain subject, and that is the Brand/Ross phone scandal.

It's surprising, but it's a situation which grew so big that it gained the honour of having its own Wikipedia page.

There are few who aren't aware of the events, I imagine, but I'll briefly describe it in my own words anyway. Brand and Ross teamed up to make some silly calls to Andrew Sachs, which was recorded and approved by the BBC for broadcast- not done live. The calls were sent out, picked up by the Daily Mail and then, shortly afterwards, by the rest of the media, creating a storm which, in Wikipedia's words, "eclipsed news of the global financial crisis, the U.S. presidential election, and fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo".

Now, in preparation to write this post, I actually listened to the segment from the radio show (linked here for those who haven't heard it yet and want to), and heard two guys being idiots together. Nothing intended to harm anyone- just two guys dicking around. It was a stupid move, certainly- someone was bound to be offended by this, probably Mr Sachs, but it was all just a joke. YouTube remarks such as this, then, strike me as being slightly out of proportion:
"Let's face it they're a pair of dickheads !!! Not funny just yet another pair of overpaid talentless,useless assholes taking the piss just cos they think they can !!! That Brand is a turd I'd love to smash his head open with a pick axe & saw his body up into little pieces !!! Then that should shut the high pitched squeaky irritating voiced twat the fuck up !!!"
That comment actually angered me quite a bit, as did all of the other people howling for the pair's resignation. People's reactions to stuff like this shows how they like to elevate themselves to some higher position where they can dish out righteous judgement on who's right and who's wrong, like some sort of quasi-Light Yagami. They weren't being serious, Kira wannabes! They didn't mean to offend anyone!

All right, I'll give you a little credit, Brand-bashers. The phone calls were a stupid move, and the duo probably deserved some sort of sanction to make sure that it didn't happen again. The above comment, however, is just idiotic. People like this, who, sadly, are found across the Internet, actually reduce my faith in the human race, which is something that I like to cling to in times of such negativity. The fact that the shitstorm surrounding this overtook the three huge political events mentioned in the Wikipedia article just makes the whole thing even more ridiculous.

I think that it's a huge shame that Brand and Ross are unlikely to work together again, because the duo produced some hilarious banter together on the tapes. It's just unfortunate that the banter was misjudged, and if it hadn't coalesced in a prank call, the two might've gone on to be even greater together. But the media and the people of our nation rejected this beautiful prospect in order to feed their own bloated egos.

If you've got this far in without tl;dring, by the way, thanks for reading.

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