Tag Archives: Dapper Laughs

An example of how to promote a comedy show – or three – or not

(L-R) Andy Barr, Nathan Willcock and Phil Jarvis at Soho theatre yesterday.

(L-R) Andy Barr, Nathan Willcock and Phil Jarvis at the Soho Theatre Bar yesterday with Jeremy Spake and Baby Spice.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a message from comedy performer Phil Jarvis saying:

Hi John. Is there any chance myself and Andy Barr can plug a few odd shows we have lined up to you? We can bring Creme Eggs.

When I arrived at Soho Theatre yesterday, there were three of them – people, not eggs – Nathan Willcock was a late addition – and they gave me a scanned photograph of Baby Spice holding a pizza plus a photo of a man with a slight beard.

“Who is that?” I asked Phil Jarvis.

“Nathan Willcock,” replied Phil Jarvis.

“No,” I said. “The man in the photo.”

“That is Jeremy Spake,” Phil told me. “From the 1990s TV reality show Airport.”

“And your show is…?” I asked.

“We’ve got a show called Kafka or Magaluf.”

“What is it about?”

I had thought it was a relatively simple question.

But there was a long, long pause.

Eventually, Andy came up with: “Malcolm Julian Swan is attempting to run a nightclub… erm…” There was another long pause. “But he is also interested in Marxist theatre.” He looked at Phil for confirmation.

Phil returned his look, slightly surprised.

Malcolm Julian Swan is an on-stage alter ego of Phil.

“We have,” Phil told me, “got some jungle music as an intro. And we’ve got a DJ in the show as well.”

“A proper DJ?” I asked.

“A proper DJ, yeah,” he said.

“Who wears it?” I asked.

Malcolm Julian Swan aka Phil Jarvis in a previous incarnation

Malcolm Julian Swan aka Phil Jarvis in a previous incarnation

Phil ignored me. “His name is Callum Vaughan. He lets us crash in his spare room… And we’ve got some Velcro. That’s pretty much it… It’s us trying to be Marxist theatre, Brechtian types. Malcolm Julian Swan – the character I made up – is quite a pretentious, avant-garde guy who lives in Basingstoke – He is sort-of based on myself.”

“You live in Basingstoke?” I asked. “I am terribly sorry.”

“It has its perks,” he told me.

“Does,” I asked, “a cockroach appear in the show at any point?”

“We’ve got some bits where we put Velcro on people. That’s about as close as we get to a cockroach. I was going to re-read Kafka’s Metamorphosis before doing this, but that never worked out…”

“What was the last book you did read?” I asked.

“It was a book by Jeremy Spake about working in an airport.”

“And where is Kafka or Magaluf going to be performed?” I asked.

I had thought it was a relatively simple question.

Phil looked at Andy.

“Where is it happening?” he asked.

There was a pause.

No-one answered.

Then someone said: “The Criterion Free House at Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival this Saturday.”

Cockroaches or Velcro? Kafka or Magaluf? Eh? Who knows?

Cockroaches or Velcro? Kafka or Magaluf? Eh? Who knows?

“Are you an ongoing threesome?” I asked.

“I’m not in Kafka or Magaluf,” Nathan told me.

“If we take it to the Edinburgh Fringe,” Phil told me, “he has said he will be in it.”

“Are you definitely going to take it to Edinburgh?” I asked.

“Might do,” Phil said, “but the thing we are definitely taking to the Fringe is The Abridged Dapper 11-Hour Monochrome Dream Show.

“Dapper?” I asked.

“We are reclaiming the word Dapper,” Phil told me.

“From whom?” I asked.

Dapper Laughs.”

“Because?”

“Because he’s a cunt. So it’s worth claiming it back cos it’s a tarnished word.”

“How long does your 11-hour show last?” I asked.

“One hour,” said Andy. “Originally, we were going to do it as 11 hours, but it’s abridged. If you know anywhere that will let us do it for 11 hours, we will do that.”

“It would be a free show?” I asked.

“Oh,” laughed Phil. “Oh yes. No-one will want to pay money to come and see it!”

“Did you,” I asked, “flyer for your Edinburgh Fringe show last year?”

“I gave out some IKEA instructions for assembling furniture,” said Phil, “and wrote my phone number down on it and said Come… About 15 people came! We did two days.”

“The first day,” said Andy, “we got about five people in.”

“But that,” I reminded him, “is around the average audience size at the Edinburgh Fringe.”

“We could,” mused Phil, “do the full 11-hour show on the Megabus from John O’Groats to Edinburgh.”

The back end of a MegaBus

The back end of a Megabus aka possible venue

Last year, Phil came up with an idea for an Edinburgh Fringe show in which comedians would rotate getting on the Megabus for a month and videoing a live feed onto Skype which would be projected in to a room in Edinburgh. Sadly it came to naught.

“This new show,” said Phil, “The Abridged Dapper 11-Hour Monochrome Dream Show… It was thought-up in Michael Brunström’s garden… at a barbecue. We were all sitting round talking and it came out of that.”

“I went to the toilet,” explained Andy, “and, when I came back, they had conceived a Fringe show.”

“Was it a long visit to the toilet?” I asked.

“Well,” Andy told me, “it was fairly… was fairly… Well, I was checking the Tweets, you know?”

“So Andy comes back,”explained Phil, “and it ends up Andy was the only one who was in the show. Everyone else who originally agreed to be in it has pulled out.”

“They’ve all distanced themselves from it,” said Nathan.

“What is it about?” I asked.

There was a short pause.

Phil Jarvis at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015

Phil Jarvis at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015

“It was originally going to be about the Apocalypse,” said Phil, “but now it’s just dreams – sketches about the Apocalypse. Well, it’s not sketches. it’s dreams.”

“The key difference being,” said Nathan, “that there is absolutely zero narrative thrust to any of the dreams.”

“We don’t really know what it’s going to be” explained Phil. “The key thing is that something is going to happen at a preview in London on the 24th of March. It’s a happening. That’s what we do. It’s happening. A happening. It’s a dream happening.”

Andy added: “We just hope Phil’s gonna keep his clothes on this time.”

“I will be trying to keep them on,” said Phil.

“Oh,” I said.

“The other thing we want to plug,” Phil continued, “is that Andy’s starting a new comedy night on 3rd March called The Apocalypse Survivors’ Club.”

“The idea,” explained Andy, “is that an Apocalypse has happened and all culture has been wiped from the face of the earth, aside from a few bits and pieces.”

“Where is this?” I asked.

“Dalston,” replied Andy.

“At the Ophelia,” said Phil.

“How do you spell that?” I asked. He told me. “Just checking,” I told him.

“We will,” Andy continued, “have some acts on trying to re-build culture after the Apocalypse.”

(Foreground) Cassie Atkinson looks forward to an evening with Andy Bar

(Foreground) Cassie Atkinson keen to spend an evening with Andy Barr and other Apocalypse Survivors’ Club members

“Acts?” I asked.

“The first night,” said Andy, “has Alexander Bennett, Michael Brunström, Cassie Atkinson, Fern Brady and a poet called Michael Clarke. It’s just a new material night. We can use it as a testing ground for stuff we might put in later shows and Phil is my assistant.”

“We were thinking,” said Nathan, “of starting the first show with Donald Trump causing the Apocalypse and then we’re all around the camp fire and link the sketches through that. But Andy immediately said: That’s too much structure.”

“I am more worried,” I said, “by the phrase ‘we’re all around the camp fire’…”

“It is good to keep an element of fear,” said Phil.

“We could get a laptop of a burning fire…” mused Nathan.

“And,” said Andy, “just burn the laptop.”

“That’s too logical,” said Nathan.

When I left, Phil gave me part of the script for Kafka or Magaluf. It starts:

Sam and Andy walk out to the audience and hand out quotes from Karl Marx, Groucho Marx and Harpo Marx…

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Filed under Comedy, Humor, Humour, Surreal

The Women’s Equality Party, sexism, Dapper Laughs and very bad or good PR

Women’s Equality Party website

.

God, if he or she exists, is a comedy scriptwriter.

Last week, a friend of mine joined the Women’s Equality Party, which writer and presenter Sandi Toksvig co-founded back in March this year. Two days ago, my friend was filling in a survey email from the party and was finding one question a bit tricky:

What do you think would help most to free our streets, workplaces and public spaces from harassment abuse?

She asked me what my answer would be. I replied:

I guess better social education at school age.

Now we jump to yesterday, when the Chortle comedy website reported a story under the headline:

DAPPER LAUGHS; I’M A FEMINIST
‘I’d say yeah, equal rights’

There was a storm in the comedy and television teacup earlier this year over Dapper Laughs’ unacceptably sexist material. As a result, Daniel O’Reilly (the real name of Dapper Laughs) went on Newsnight, the BBC TV current affairs show, to give a contrite apology, claim he was misunderstood and say he was going to ‘kill off’ the Dapper Laughs character.

A few months later, he ‘revived’ the Dapper Laughs character and just carried on as before.

Both decisions were terrible pieces of PR because they both implied or exposed blatant insincerity and rampant cynicism.

Yesterday’s Chortle piece reported an equally mis-begotten PR decision. It is an excellently written piece of journalism, so I feel justified in nicking the copyright material. It is balanced yet shows an opinion.

Steve Bennett of Chortle pointed out that “In several of his (Dapper Laugh’s) online videos he filmed himself yelling sexual comments at women in the street or from his car as he drives past. One of his tweets said that he was so annoyed with his girlfriend that he’s gonna ‘pull out his Chris Brown moves’, referring to the rapper who assaulted his girlfriend Rihanna. And his chat-up lines included: ‘Just show her your penis. If she cries, she’s just playing hard to get.’…”

The meat of the Chortle report was an interview Daniel O’Reilly gave to women’s rights campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez for On Demand News. In the video of the interview, the new Dapper Laughs DVD cover is very prominently displayed.

O’Reilly said:

“If you ask me if I consider myself a feminist, I’d say yeah – Equal rights… A big one for me is I didn’t realise… I didn’t realise how much women have to deal with sexual advances and sexual harassment on just an average day-to-day basis… I’d hate to say I was naive to do it but I didn’t know how much of a problem it was until my content about it… that I was trying to take the mick out of men being like it… until it come under so much fire I was like Really is it this bad?. I matured cos I learned about it.”

Steve of Chortle then tellingly and admirably added in the line:

“Dapper Laughs’s next gig is hosting the PRP awards for the porn industry in London tomorrow night.”

In my opinion, the On Demand News interview shows an astonishing level of PR stupidity. Apart from trying to be contrite – which is unconvincing – O’Reilly ‘explains’ his about-turn on the Newsnight interview – that he would abandon the Dapper Laughs character – by dragging in his dad having had cancer and his post-cancer-scare dad persuading him to continue with the character. All the while sitting in front of the giant DVD cover.

This is a PR miscalculation on such a vast scale in every direction – he thinks it will make him look like an OK bloke whereas the effect (rightly or wrongly) is to make him seem even more appalling.

I posted a link to the Chortle article on my Facebook page with the comment: The boy needs serious PR guidance.

Comic Daphna Baram commented:

Dapper Laughs in the interview

Dapper Laughs’s words are rather undercut by commercialism

Why? His fame and infamy and the number of tickets he sells for his show and the numbers of pieces written about him and the number of people getting their knickers in a twist about him have way exceeded whatever potential of talent he will ever ever have. He is a PR genius. What journalists need is a “how to know they’ve been fussing about a PR queen for too long”, that’s what.

… which is a very valid point.

Connected to all the above in a way that is closer than it might at first seem is that, this week, I was also told by an acquaintance that his (the acquaintance’s) friends intended to heckle a comedian whose shows espouse political views they find obnoxious.

I was asked: “What do you think?”

My texted-back reply was:

It is always a bad idea to heckle someone whose views you disagree with, especially if the rest of the audience has paid to see the person. You are always going to be seen as the bad guy, whether your opinion is right or wrong. Because it is against freedom of speech. Anyone is entitled to say anything within the law. Anyone is entitled to say most Frenchmen eat babies. If you argue with them before or afterwards, that is OK but, if you try to stop them expressing their legal opinion, that is inherently anti-democratic bordering on Fascism. Objecting to a book is OK. Burning all copies so no-one can read it is preventing freedom of speech. Freedom of speech includes the right to say repugnant but legal things. The path from interfering with someone speaking their views out loud by attempting to shout them down and the Charlie Hebdo attack is not actually that far logically.

Which, as I said, is more connected to what is above than might first appear.

From the little I have seen of Dapper Laughs, I have no opinion which I would strongly argue. But he seems appallingly, unacceptably sexist and tries to excuse it with rampant, naive insincerity.

On the other hand, I would defend his right to say anything he wants, defend his right to make comedy out of anything he wants.

Going back to the beginning of this blog…

What do you think would help most to free our streets, workplaces and public spaces from harassment abuse?

I guess better social education at school age.

The perfect way to heckle something you don’t agree with

The perfect way to heckle something you don’t agree with??

But not censorship.

Freedom of speech includes the right to say repugnant but legal things.

The irony of course – as you will have noticed – is that, in saying I think Dapper Laughs has done bad PR, I have publicised him. So Daphna Baram may be right.

We live in an imperfect world.

God, if he or she exists, is a comedy scriptwriter.

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Filed under Censorship, Comedy, Politics

Geezer job: Dapper Laughs, Oscar Wilde and a bit of ‘buzz word’ offensiveness

Dapper Laughs - “dead in the water"

Dapper Laughs – perhaps laughing all the way to the bank…

Daniel O’Reilly in his character (Is it a character?) of Dapper Laughs is the comedian who just keeps giving to journalists. He needs better PR advice. Or does he?

His ITV2 show was cancelled after phone footage emerged of him telling a woman in a live comedy show audience that she was “gagging for a rape”. Then he went on BBC2’s Newsnight show to apologise and say he was dropping the Dapper Laughs persona. Then he revived the ‘character’.

And now, yesterday, in a Sunday Times Magazine interview, he appeared to be saying that the controversy had all been because he was not actually taught that rape was wrong: “Not once was I invited to learn more about sexual violence, rape and sexism and the problem is the attitude toward men… Instead of attacking me, why not educate me? I would happily accept it and then help and educate the millions of men who watch my stuff. I haven’t been. Instead I’m told to fuck off and stop my comedy.”

Who knows if that is what he meant to say or did say or not.

The interview might or might not be a miscalculation and might or might not be unconnected with his upcoming tour Theory of Nothing and an upcoming DVD release.

We’re Not Racist and We Love Gays

Ben Adams and Lenny Sherman are successful podcasters

I talked to comedians Lenny Sherman and Ben Adams about him.

They record a regular podcast together: We’re Not Racist and We Love Gays. And Ben runs Broken Toaster TV which produces “dark comedy sketches and shorts” for online viewers.

“We used to run gigs for Dapper Laughs,” Ben told me, “and we got friendly with him that way.”

“Ben was the one who introduced all of us lot to Vine,” Lenny explained. “He got Dapper Laughs on Vine. I used to MC a weekly gig for Dapper Laughs – he’s very good at promotion and marketing and that sort of thing.

“You get exposure from Vine and our podcast has sort-of built-up from that: a cult following. We’ve got over 20,000 followers on Vine and about 3,000 listeners for our podcast. We’ve done over 40. It’s on iTunes. We’ve got the Twitter page, got the Facebook. We done a live show at the Lost Theatre last October. It all links up. It’s all publicity. We’re doing the Camden Fringe this year – two 25-minute sets of stand-up.”

Ben and Lenny live at the Camden Fringe

Ben and Lenny live at the Camden Fringe

“Why the Camden Fringe and not the Edinburgh Fringe?” I asked.

Ben told me: “I went to the Edinburgh Fringe once and, unless you’ve got money and the proper marketing behind you, it’s almost worthless. you go up there and almost every single poster has got 4 Stars, 5 Stars. It becomes meaningless.”

“And,” explained Lenny, “I just can’t afford it, to be honest. I would love to go. to be at a comedy festival – probably the best one in the world – I would love to. But I just can’t afford it, John. I’ve been going four years.  The first year, I didn’t go up to Edinburgh because I was in prison.”

“For what?” I asked.

“Fighting at football. Millwall. I got attacked. I was defending myself. It’s not something I’ve ever hidden. I’m not really that sort of comedian. I’m more sort-of one-liners. I’m not really a storyteller, not personal – though there’s a lot of layers to my stuff. I play on the stereotype. People stereotype me. And it’s about switching the stereotype.”

“That,” said Ben, “is what I’m trying to do at the moment. I’m trying to become more of a storyteller. I started six years ago and it was joke-joke-joke and a lot of it was edgy, shocking stuff. But now I’ve got to a point where I don’t want to do that any more. I’ve got all this material that really works, but I want to move more into storytelling.”

“Someone,” said Lenny, “described my comedy as vulgar intelligence. But it’s not vulgar. Vulgar’s the wrong word, though it’s adult. It’s not mainstream; let’s put it that way. I mix it up as well. I done a lot of improv – I mix a lot in and try to be original and different. I am what I am. I can’t go on stage and talk about lentils.”

“I have found,” said Ben,” that, since doing the podcast, I enjoy telling stories a lot more. I think that’s where my niche is.”

“People say to me,” said Lenny, “You should talk about when you was in prison and, if you done that, you would get a Perrier Award.”

“Your podcast is very successful,” I said.

Lenny Sherman

Lenny Sherman knows a bit about merchandising and tattoos

“We do merchandise,” explained Lenny. “and, on the podcast, I done this story about some geezer I was banged-up with who had a Born Evil tattoo. The feedback we got from that was great. We even had merchandise with Born Evil written on it.”

“So,” I asked, “you have managed to make money out of Vine and the podcast.”

“I,” said Ben, “have made quite a bit of money out of Vine. Adverts and things. We got a free watch as well. You get e-mailed by companies. We were going to do something for Domino’s Pizza but that fell through.”

“Dominoes are always falling down,” I said.

“Dapper Laughs,” said Lenny, “will get: Will you wear our jacket? We’ll give you five grand. Or McDonalds: We’ll give you three grand. The more followers you’ve got…”

“… the more money you get,” Ben completed.

“What about Dapper Laughs losing his TV show?” I asked.

“I don’t want to pass judgment on that,” said Lenny.

“I think his show got taken out of context,” said Ben. “A lot of people never even saw it.”

Lenny Sherman & Ben Adams

Lenny Sherman & Ben Adams: maybe better PR than Dapper

Lenny added: “I felt he should not have gone on Newsnight. I thought: What the fuck you doing? Not only that, but that fucked it up for everyone else. I notice now, when I do jokes, if they hear buzz words… I’ve got a joke. This joke pretty much sums me up:

“A geezer says: What are your views on Muslims?

“I say: Pretty good. I’ve got a penthouse overlooking a mosque.

“When the audience hear the word Muslims from a geezer like me – working class Cockney – they think Ooh-ooh-ooh. But then I switch it to a harmless joke. I switch it.

“When Dapper Laughs did Newsnight, I thought: What the fuck are you doing? I don’t agree with everything he done – don’t get me wrong – but… I’ve got very strong opinions on edgy comedy. My comedy is what’s natural to me. I sort-of get both sides. I like all sorts of different comedy. But I don’t like this edgy comedy when they’re just talking about rude stuff for the sake of it. Come on, you’re a grown man or woman! Why are you acting like a schoolkid?

“What we do is natural. Everything we do is natural to us. There’s no false anything. We tell it like it is. Then you get people on the other side who react to buzz words too much. There’s this culture of Oh no, you can’t talk about that! Why not? You can talk about whatever you like, provided you’re not being an arsehole about it.”

Ben Adams - occasionally offensive

Ben Adams – slightly offensive?

“If I do a joke that might be slightly offensive,” said Ben, “people never look past the offensiveness or that one buzz word. Because they don’t appreciate what kind of joke it is. They stop at the first hurdle and think: Hang on! I don’t like this!

“Someone described my comedy as Treading the line between offensiveness and playfulness expertly – which I thought was perfect. Frankie Boyle might say a joke and be a bit harsh., whereas I will be a cheeky little boy about it.

“I lost a lot of my love for stand-up recently. I wanted to change direction and it took a while to get the balls to do that. If you go one way, you might end up on TV on 8 Out of 10 Cats, then you might go on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, then you might get your DVD Ben Adams Live! But I don’t want any of that. It all seems unappealing. It sounds awful. I want to make my own way, which is why I film comedy sketches and we have the podcast and do our own shows. I like the idea of finding and playing to your own audience.”

“This is what we’re all about, really, really.,” said Lenny. “I’m not saying I don’t want to be on those TV programmes. I’ll do anything. If it’s right, I’ll do it. But I think the way forward is getting your own audience. With Dapper Laughs, I thought there was a lot of irony in that. People said: Oh! He shouldn’t do that! He’s going backwards! but a lot of what he done was very progressive and he’s shown people: Look! You can do it! You don’t need ‘them’. You can just do it yourself. That was really groundbreaking, if you take away the sexism and the other stuff. What he done was like really monumental.”

“You contacted me for a chat,” I said.

“The reason we asked to see you,” said Lenny, “is we wanna try and make a bit of noise now. We’ve been under the radar a little bit.”

“Well,” I said,  “Oscar did say: There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

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Filed under Comedy, Offensive, Sex

Kate Copstick on UK comedy’s jihadists, sexism & why an ITV show failed badly

Kate Copstick during the recording of the first Grouchy Club podcast

Copstick, oft called a horned beast, proves the point

In 2011 at the Edinburgh Fringe, I chaired two debates about the comedy business and arranged two spaghetti-juggling contests; the latter could be seen as a simile for the former.

At the 2013 Fringe, I chaired five chat shows on comedy-related subjects. Most included comedy critic Kate Copstick.

Throughout the 2014 Fringe, Copstick and I chaired The Grouchy Club, in which there were no guests. We (well, to be honest, mostly she) chatted to the audience and it was mostly but (like this blog) not entirely about the comedy business.

Yesterday, Copstick and I recorded the first in a weekly series of Grouchy Club “mostly comedy” podcasts. 

I suggested we should start off these weekly chats simply – with just us alone in an empty room and no audience because of the audio distraction. So we decided to record the first podcast at Copstick’s Mama Biashara charity shop in London’s Shepherd’s Bush because it was a controllable space and, on a Sunday, closed.

So we thought.

In fact, the shop was open and, on a Sunday, has a music tradition. So there is an African drummer rather distractingly plying his art over the first 16 minutes of the 43 minute recording available online at http://thegrouchyclub.podomatic.com

The subjects covered include: sexism, the controversial comedians Dapper Laughs and Andrew Lawrence, why ITV’s  Show Me The Funny comedy talent show was crap, Copstick’s encounters with criminals, rape victims, police corruption, and the comedy industry’s new ’political correctness’ Fascists… Oh!… and Copstick sings.

The audio podcast is 43 minutes long. We also videoed the chat and I have posted a single 10-minute chunk of the podcast on YouTube.

Kate Copstick, John Fleming at The Grouchy Club

Serious stuff: The Grouchy Club podcast recording yesterday.

There will be a live Grouchy Club show next Sunday as part of the Jewish Comedy Day in London, despite the fact neither of us is Jewish.

And The Grouchy Club returns to the Edinburgh Fringe this August.

Below are two low-key excerpts from yesterday’s podcast. You will have to listen to the original to get the fully venomous rants.


COPSTICK
Have you looked recently at any of the comedy forums? They are all grouchier than me.

JOHN
No-one is grouchier than you. Adolf Hitler was not grouchier than you.

COPSTICK
To be fair, OK, I am grouchy. But comedy recently, I think, has just become so fucking judgemental.

JOHN
It’s always been judgemental. You’re a critic.

COPSTICK
But I’m fairly and intelligently judgemental… I mean, look at what has happened. Currently we have questions being asked in the House of Commons because Channel 4 want to do a sitcom based on the Irish Potato Famine. Because, apparently, you’re not allowed to be funny about the Irish Potato Famine.

That is two steps away from creating a jihad because someone has drawn a moustache and a pair of funny specs on the face of the prophet Mohammed – who probably had a moustache anyway, to be fair.

JOHN
We should point out this is being recorded the day after people were shot to death in Denmark for daring to speak things.

COPSTICK
Exactly! That’s what I’m saying. No, it’s not what I’m saying! People within the comedy industry seem to be becoming as judgemental as people outside the industry. I mean, when was the last time ever, in comedy – the answer is never…

JOHN
Never.

COPSTICK
Too soon.

JOHN
Timing.

COPSTICK
Essence… Comedy.

JOHN
42.

COPSTICK
We’re not talking universe here, we’re talking something much more important, John: we’re talking Comedy.

JOHN
I should point out that, when I arrived, Copstick said (a) I’m very angry and (b) I’m pissed. She is. Not me.

COPSTICK
Well, I was angry.

JOHN
And pissed.

COPSTICK
No, no, no. I was angry, I was in pain (Copstick has lupus), I was upset, I was depressed and I was frustrated.

JOHN 
Ideal for an Edinburgh comedy show.

COPSTICK
And then my lovely volunteer here in the Mama Biashara shop suggested Southern Comfort but we didn’t have any Southern Comfort, so I fell back on Jägermeister and I can’t tell you how warm and cuddly and friendly I’m feeling… Except to the people in the comedy industry who have suddenly turned into the Spanish fucking Inquisition.

Back to my question. Whenever in the history of comedy did people from within the industry turn on one of their own and kill… I’m talking Dapper Laughs.

JOHN
But he has revived, like the good lord on the third day.

COPSTICK
I’m speaking now as somebody who I think we can all agree… Look, it’s been some time since I’ve been well-moist. I think I’m sticky at best, crusty at worst… But what is wrong with Dapper Laughs? It wasn’t the greatest comedy series on television, but…

JOHN
We should point out to any foreign listeners that happen to be out there that Dapper Laughs was said to be a sexist and…

COPSTICK
He WAS sexist! He IS sexist. But what’s wrong with comedy sexism?

JOHN
Sexism is a bit like making jokes about rape. In theory, you shouldn’t make jokes about rape, but it depends how it’s done.

COPSTICK
Exactly…Well, no… I don’t think it is. Because rape is a terrible thing, despite what some people who subscribe to your blog might think that I think. Rape is a terrible thing. It’s an act of aggression; it’s an act of violence. Sexism is just making fun of different sexes in the ways that they are different.

JOHN
That’s comedy sexism. But sexism is actually demeaning someone else.

COPSTICK
But he IS comedy sexism.

JOHN
But it’s like saying there’s nothing wrong with racism. There is nothing wrong with jokes about people of another race, but there is something wrong with racism, where you say that person is not worthy of anything and should be spat upon. Women are pointless, they’re awful, they’re mentally inferior…

COPSTICK
That’s not what he said.

JOHN
That’s sexism, though.

COPSTICK
Yes, but that’s not what he said,


JOHN
You did an ITV1 comedy talent show.

COPSTICK
Yes, it was called Show Me The Funny and it didn’t. It hardly showed any funny, because it was too busy wandering off round Liverpool watching people trying to find somebody called Michelle.

JOHN
Without slagging off anyone or causing a legal rumpus, why did they do that?

COPSTICK
Well, without slagging off anyone or causing a legal rumpus…

JOHN
We both know the executive producer, who is wonderful.

COPSTICK
He is a marvellous man. As I understand it… and let me preface this by saying that, if anyone in ITV1 would like to offer me a comedy series, I would be only too happy to say Yes… However, what seems to me to have been the problem with Show Me The Funny was that somebody said: Let’s do X-Factor for comedy. and they went: Great! Fucking hell! Nice! Yes! 

However, at the point where they take a good or reasonable or very basic idea to a boardroom where lots of pointless executives sit around, they then said: Yes, X-Factor. Huge! Marvellous! Everyone loves it! But The Apprentice is really good too and it gets fantastic ratings. So why don’t we just… In a criminal enterprise, this would be called a cut-and-shunt.

JOHN
Shunt?

COPSTICK
Shunt.

JOHN
Just checking.

COPSTICK
Rhyming with… It means you take the back half of one (car) and the front half of another, slam them together and hope that it works. Guess what. It didn’t.

They had a choice: take the entire production team from the entertainment show or take the entire production team from The Apprentice. And guess what they did. They took the entire fucking production team from The Apprentice. How funny was The Apprentice? Not at all.

JOHN
That’s literally true, isn’t it? They came from The Apprentice.

COPSTICK
That is true. Lovely people. But about as funny as genital herpes.

JOHN
It’s very difficult to do a comedy show or a light entertainment show if you don’t have the light entertainment gene.

COPSTICK
Very sweet people but… bloody hell!


YOU HEAR THE FULL PODCAST HERE
AND WATCH A 10-MINUTE SECTION OF VIDEO HERE

 

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Comics, bankers & surgeons: Sociopaths

Lindsay Sharman with some quiet opinions (Photo by Tigz Rice)

Lindsay Sharman expresses some opinions on comedians (Photograph by Tigz Rice)

“So you are telling me all comedians are sociopaths?” I asked comedian Lindsay Sharman.

“Not all,” she said. “Just some.”

“I never know,” I told her, “the difference between psychopaths and sociopaths.”

“I think it’s the level to which they have violent impulses,” said Lindsay. “Shall I go through the symptoms?”

“Simpsons?” I asked.

“Symptoms,” said Lindsay. “The main one is a lack of empathy: an inability to understand other people’s emotions. Hence a lot of them become mimics, so they can move throughout society easily. They become excellent mimics of what they think other people want to hear and see. So a lot of them are very charming and have very close relationships which, at some point, break down because the other person ends up getting mistreated by them. The sociopath will emotionally manipulate people in order to go for their weaknesses and vulnerabilities to bond them closer to them.”

“Just sounds like men with women and vice versa,” I suggested.

“There are other things that tie them to the comedy community,” said Lindsay. “They’re very promiscuous, because they don’t necessarily form very close bonds. And there’s a high incidence of bi-sexuality…”

“I’ve not noticed that in comedians,” I said, surprised. “I mean the bi-sexuality.”

“Yeah, well, maybe not all comedians,” said Lindsay.

“I was reading the other day,” I said, “about a high incidence of promiscuity among people in a particular bank branch in Regents Street. Someone who worked there was saying everyone was bonking everyone else.”

“That’s just them self-aggrandising their workplace,” said Lindsay. “Look at us! We’re all bonking all the time!

Sociopaths are also,” she continued, “constantly observing – to understand human behaviour so they can absorb it. It’s this outsider position while desperately trying to be an insider and there’s also an element of game playing to the whole thing. They seem to go through life like a video game – like it’s all about levels and achievements.”

The City of London - home to sociopathy and promiscuity?

The City of London – a hotbed of promiscuity and sociopathy?

“But bankers are the same aren’t they?” I asked.

“Yes,” agreed Lindsay. “And the reason why there’s a lot of sociopathic behaviour among financiers and CEOs is because they’re not risk averse. The things that would scare the crap out of us, they just do. If it doesn’t work it doesn’t matter: they’ll just try another thing. They’re accumulating power and points and they don’t care if other people are adversely affected.

“The people who brought down banks and wiped out people’s pensions probably are not kept awake at all at night by that. They’re probably just planning their next move to get back on top of the heap.”

“But comedians are terrified of everything,” I said. “I’ve seen comics virtually shit themselves before they go on stage.”

“There’s adrenaline,” countered Lindsay. “A lot of sociopaths will create difficult situations for themselves because they enjoy the challenge and the adrenaline associated with getting out of those situations. I’m not saying all comedians are sociopaths but, in a lot of the different problems which different comedians have, I think there might be an element of it. Sociopaths have also got a very high regard for themselves. Quite narcissistic.”

“But,” I said, “comedians have got terrible problems of self-doubt.”

“They say that,” agreed Lindsay, “but they think that’s what people want to hear. It’s that duality of thinking you’re constantly screwing it up while thinking you’re the best thing in the world. They’ve got rock-solid self-esteem while knowing they can screw up quite a lot.”

“So comedians have simultaneous low self-esteem and high self-esteem?” I asked.

“I think that’s a very comedian thing,” said Lindsay. “There’s an arrogance in even trying it in the first place. And part of sociopaths’ charm is that they’ll use humour as a mechanism to hide the fact they have no feelings. They know people are attracted to humour.

Surgeons - are they a bunch of sociopaths too?

Surgeons. Are they also a bunch of sociopaths or psychopaths?

“Some other industries do attract sociopaths. The financial world. Any world which can bestow prestige and in which it’s helpful to not have too many empathic feelings. Top surgeons who carve into bodies all the time and have to see the body as just a collection of tubes. Anyone who climbs to the top of the heap.”

“But surely,” I said, “everyone is trying to climb to the top of some heap, even if it’s small and parochial.”

“Well,” replied Lindsay, “it has become a bit hip to say you’re on the autism scale. It might make more sense to say we’re somewhere on the empathy scale. I like to think of myself as an empathic person but, if I was really empathic, I would be a vegetarian. I am quite happy to eat animals which have been slaughtered.

“Intelligent sociopaths who have been raised in empathic environments will try and replicate what an empath does, though they might only go for free range eggs or something. Whereas a lot of people who are empathic use their emotions as a terrible excuse for atrocities – like blowing up an anti-abortion clinic. That’s all about emotions and nothing about logic. In fact, either end of the scale is not great, really.

“Maybe comedy commissioners should be recruited from fallen financiers who have taken too many risks. The trouble with the current UK comedy commissioning scene is that is seems to be populated by a load of scared people. They all seem scared to lose prestige, to lose their job, to look like an idiot. They don’t take any risks.

“There have always been people scared in their jobs, not willing to risk things, but I just think it’s getting a bit endemic. And now they’re all thinking: Oh! We’ve got to be relevant because apparently this thing called ‘the internet’ is taking over. So now they do things like look at YouTube hits and go: Oh! Let’s give him a programme! Hence Dapper Laughs. He wouldn’t have got a programme if it hadn’t been for panicked TV commissioners. It’s idiotic. If they did what the internet does, they’d have wall-to-wall pandas on slides and kittens falling off tables.”

“When you say comedians are sociopaths, though,” I said, “you’re describing any person really. Dustmen probably want to get to the top of their profession.”

“No,” said Lindsay. “I think a lot of people are very happy doing what they’re doing. They have different priorities. I’ve had quite a few different jobs in my time and the majority of the people I’ve worked with outside comedy are happy doing what they’re doing and they’d prefer not to have the stress of extra responsibility. I don’t think everyone is hungrily ambitious. You’ve probably spent too much time around comedians, John. You’re starting to think most people are ambitious.”

“No. I think most people are barking mad,” I told her, “and that’s the good side of them. I think most comedians are terrified.”

“Like I said earlier,” replied Lindsay, “I don’t think all comedians are sociopaths, “just that there might be a high incidence. The incidence of sociopaths and psychopaths among the top tier of financiers is supposed to be much higher than in the general population. And I think that might be the case with comedians too.”

Don’t blame Lindsay - she’s only giving an opinion

Don’t blame Lindsay – she’s only giving her opinion!

“Other comedians,” I said,  “are going to hate you implying they might be sociopaths.”

“Some of them definitely are. Some of the ones who are a bit more ruthless and careerist – maybe they have an element of it? That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with being ambitious. I find the more successful comedians think: I know exactly what works. I know my schtick. And they do it with such conviction and belief in themselves that audiences can get swept up in it.”

I said: “It sounds like being a sociopath might help in career terms.”

“Probably,” Lindsay replied. “If you’re not so bridled by morality and guilt, then you…”

“Guilt?”

“If you have absolutely no remorse for anything, if you don’t care about the pain you might cause others, then you probably will be incredibly successful in business. And comedy. And you won’t be hung up on artistic integrity – Screw you! I’m going to do this because it will give me greater exposure and more money and that’s what it’s all about.”

So are you a sociopath?” I asked.

“I don’t think so,” said Lindsay.

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Chris Dangerfield on Dapper Laughs: the victim of class prejudice & jealousy?

A selfie of Chris Dangerfield “hard at work"

A selfie of Chris Dangerfield “hard at work”

In my blog yesterday, comedian Lewis Schaffer gave his view of the recent kerfuffle about ‘offensive’ and ’sexist’ comic Dapper Laughs whose career appears to have imploded after criticism from the media and other comedians.

A couple of days ago, while he was picking a lock (that is true) comedian Chris Dangerfield told me he was angry about several things.

So I had a chat with him yesterday.

Basically, like setting off a firework, I started it off then stood well back.

WARNING: As this is a blog involves Chris Dangerfield, some people may find the language and opinions offensive. If this is likely, then do not read it.

“How are your armpits?” I asked.

“I use that Magnum 24 Hours,” Chris told me. “Look, I don’t know what it’s called. Mitchum? It just stops your body functioning normally so you can’t get rid of all the toxins that will poison you and your body doesn’t smell for years. And, when you don’t bath ever, like me – Don’t put that in your blog. I’m actually very good at bathing. But it’s a heroin thing. The feeling of water on your skin is not that good.”

“Why’s that?’

“I dunno. Odd, though. It’s almost alright once you’re in, but getting out is a bit prickly. The water’s just unwanted.”

“So,” I said, “at the moment, some comedians are talking about forming their own trade union and having people sign a Code of Conduct.”

“I got into comedy for a love of performance,” said Chris, “for a love of challenging things, for some kind of dissident voice in a world where there aren’t many left. And now comics are policing comics. All those fuckers that signed that fucking thing. Half of them ain’t even comedians. Who are these people? They’re blatant opportunists. Oh, I’ll sign it! I’ll sign it to be on the same list as some other Nobody comic! Jesus! It’s all bullshit! It’s an awful, awful situation.”

“I think originally,” I said, “it was because people were pissed-off because they were not being paid by Jongleurs, but now this ‘code of conduct’ thing has got muddled-in with the Dapper Laughs thing. Did you read my blog today where Lewis Schaffer talks about Dapper Laughs?”

Chris Dangerfield

Chris Dangerfield is always very clean

“Comedy is almost the last free speech,” said Chris. “It’s an interesting framework. Once you label it ‘comedy’ you can kind of do anything… But these fools recently who had anything to do with that whole censorship thing.”

“What?” I asked. “Dapper Laughs?”

“Yes. They’re doing the dirty work of comedy’s biggest enemy.”

“Which is?” I asked.

“Censorship,” said Chris. “Comedians play with language. Comedians play with morality. They can play with what’s right and what’s wrong. They can turn it on its head. That’s what we do. It’s an amazing, exciting thing. It’s certainly what got me involved. And suddenly they’re all twits.

“Look, I don’t give a shit about the bullshit personal private greedy agendas of these liberal fucks who draw arbitrary lines to serve their own agendas – and that’s what they’ve done. That’s why they’re not talking about Russell Brand, Doug Stanhope, Bill Burr. But Dapper Laughs – some working class shitbag from nowhere who has said a couple of pretty unfunny things – he’s a target. He hasn’t said anything anywhere near as ‘bad’ as any of that other lot. I don’t care what they say, myself. I love it. But, if you look at the criteria these people have used when talking about Dapper Laughs, then these people – Brand, Stanhope, Burr – are far ‘worse’. It’s all bullshit.”

“But,” I argued, “Dapper Laughs telling the woman in the front row of the audience that she was ‘gagging to be raped’ is way beyond acceptability.”

“Why?” asked Chris. “Did you see the clip? If she had seen his material and chosen to go to that show, there is a certain expectation. In context, it’s fine. Absolutely fine. A comedian can’t offend anyone. People offend themselves. How do you offend someone? If there was an objective ability to offend, the whole world would be offended by things. The reason why one person can be offended while another person isn’t is because offence is in the ears of the beholder.

“I could give you ten or twenty comics who have said things along the same lines as that, but they are not getting attacked because there is the elephant in the room here about class. And the massive jealousy that Dapper Laughs had not ‘earned’ his TV series and his success because he just became famous through a technology (Vine on the internet) that other people have failed to use in the same way. It’s a disgrace. It is so disappointing.”

Sex With Children poster

Chris Dangerfield’s Sex With Children poster at the Edinburgh Fringe billed “anus, star-wars, anus, bum, frenchman, anus, magician, willy, switchblade, anus, boy, conductor, anus, lobster, bum” – and still some people who went to see the show got offended and walked out

“At the Edinburgh Fringe,” I said, “you had walk-outs in your Sex With Children show which none of us could understand given the title, the poster and the publicity.”

“It’s the same as Dapper Laughs,” said Chris. “This selective understanding of his act. “If you watch the Vines, there’s this massive homosexual undercurrent.

“He will talk to a woman in the street and then turn away and say I want cock in my bum as if he can’t hold it in, as if he’s got these desires and they over-run his heterosexual desires.

“And that’s not once or twice: it’s frequent, this homosexuality. And also his failure with women. He is a failure; he doesn’t do well with women. That’s the main thread of the Vines. None of that gets talked about.”

“But,” I started to argue, “his critics would say…”

“They’re opportunist cunts,” said Chris, “and I hate them all and they have made me SO disappointed. Comedy in this country was shit, but now it is shit and celebratory in its sense of shit. I would have thought an act that puts you in the position of the male gaze – for all its stupidity and ignorance – is essentially feminist and yet everyone is Nweugh Nweugh Nweugh complaining about it. Why aren’t they complaining about Russell Brand, Jim Jefferies, Doug Stanhope, Sarah Silverman? They’ve all offended people.

Vonny Moyes. She’s a writer. She writes for The Skinny. Done a lovely interview with me. Done a lovely review of my show. But, when Dapper Laughs pulled his show and was bullied on Newsnight where they were quoting bits of his show out of context and the poor lad looked like he was going to start crying, I put on Twitter: Oy! Dapper. If you’re jacking that character, I’ll have it. And Vonny Moyes said: It’s not so funny when you’ve been on the receiving end of rape. 

“Well, actually, I have. I have. And that’s nothing to do with the debate. People have been on the receiving end of war. I don’t see these people moaning about war jokes, of which there are millions.

Dapper Laughs - “dead in the water"

Dapper Laughs – Is he a working class hero unjustly censored?

“The whole Dapper Laughs thing has been opportunist at best. People like that prick Xxxxx Yyyyy has seen something and got jealous because he’s a failed, shitty comic who had an awful TV show. Everyone thought it was crap; it was rubbish. He saw Dapper Laughs’ show and was jealous and thought: How can I get part of this? Oh, I know, I’ll complain about it.

“Who is he to tell all these people – these millions of people who found Dapper Laughs funny – that they’re wrong. And then some cock from the Huffington Post is saying: We should not have banned this show. We should have used all his followers and educated them.

Them? Them? What? He means people he thinks of as working class idiots. Well, they don’t want to be educated; they want to be made to laugh. They didn’t go see Dapper Laughs as part of their schooling. The cheek of it! Fuck you! I was angry. Now I’m just disappointed.”

“You are getting more mellow with age,” I suggested.

“It must be the quality of the smack I brought back from Cambodia,” said Chris Dangerfield.

… TO BE CONTINUED …

The Newsnight interview with Dapper Laughs is on YouTube and includes clips from both his ITV2 series and his live stage show.

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Lewis Schaffer on Dapper Laughs + how to make an offensive joke acceptable

I have blogged about the Dapper Laughs controversy before. It is too complicated to explain again, but you can pick up the gist on Wikipedia if you have to.

There is also a compilation video of Dapper Laughs material on YouTube

Comedian Lewis Schaffer – an American based in the UK – once got a review at the Edinburgh Fringe from a young, inexperienced reviewer. It said his act was ‘mildly racist’. Lewis Schaffer has always said this review was one of the worst he has ever received because of the use of that horrible, horrible word – ‘mildly’.

“Who wants to be mildly anything?” he says.

Yesterday afternoon I went to see Lewis Schaffer perform at The Establishment Club in London and, in the evening, saw him perform at his regular weekly show at the Leicester Square Theatre.

At The Establishment, gay acts Scott Capurro and Dickie Beau were on the bill and stayed around to watch him. Lewis Schaffer’s act was relentlessly about gay people. In the evening, almost everyone in the audience got ‘picked on’ for being gay or Scottish or (in one case) coming from the Indian sub-continent – which translated as being a Palestinian Islamic extremist, despite the fact the guy said he was a ‘Christian atheist’.

Both shows were very funny.

After the Leicester Square show, I had a chat with Lewis Schaffer.

Lewis Schaffer at the Leicester Square Theatre last night

Mild Lewis Schaffer at the Leicester Square Theatre last night

“The attitude of people in this country at the moment,” he said, “reminds me of America during the Vietnam War – how excited everyone was about everything. There was a heightened level of awareness and movement.”

“I think we’re just as lethargic as ever,” I said.

“No, I think there’s a big difference,” said Lewis Schaffer, “between now and even five years ago. People now get into arguments over the slightest possible thing.”

“That is just you being argumentative,” I said.

“No,” said Lewis Schaffer, “it’s other people being argumentative – like what they did to Dapper Laughs. Whether what Dapper Laughs said was good or bad, I think the reason other comedians picked on him was because they were jealous of him: that he had not worked his way up through the ranks, that he called himself a comedian.”

“Well,” I said, “he needed a manager to control what happened.”

“Yeah,” said Lewis Schaffer, “he needed someone to take the flak for him. He rose too high and he fell too fast.”

“But he was a one-off,” I said. “He was just not experienced enough to deal with it.”

“He had a TV series, a tour, an album,” said Lewis Schaffer. “He had everything. The question is What does he do now?

Dapper Laughs - “dead in the water"

Dapper Laughs – is the presenter’s career “dead in the water”?

“He’s dead in the water,” I said.

“Do you think he ever has a chance making it back in the comedy business?”

“Not for five or six years,” I said, “by which time he will be perceived as being from a previous generation of performers.”

“And,” said Lewis Schaffer, “at that point, he’s not going to be interesting to anybody.”

“Yup,” I said. “He tried the best he could by going on Newsnight and saying Oh, I’ve killed off the character – to make it seem like there’s a distinction between him and Dapper Laughs. But it was too little too late.”

“It’s similar to what happened to Andrew Dice Clay in America,” said Lewis Schaffer.

“He just seemed to disappear from the radar,” I said.

“Well,” said Lewis Schaffer, “he rose very fast as well. He was on MTV and making movies and things and then people heard what he was saying. He saw himself as a joke but his audience was taking him seriously. He was a skinny Jewish guy from Brooklyn and he was playing it as a tough Italian.

“And,” continued Lewis Schaffer, “he was on the Arsenio Hall TV show, (there is a clip on YouTube) explaining everything and he starts crying. He destroyed his own career by crying on TV.”

Andrew Dice Clay seemed indestructible

Andrew Dice Clay. He seemed indestructible

“Why was he crying?” I asked.

“He was under a lot of pressure with people hating him. He didn’t want people to hate him. He was a comedian. As soon as he cried – forget it – he lost his core audience. They didn’t want to see some supposedly tough guy crying.”

“What happened to him?” I asked.

“He still performs but he’s never reached the level of success he had. He’s done some acting – I think he was in a Woody Allen movie.”

I laughed out loud.

“He also did a DVD of a comedian basically being unprepared and self-destructing on stage.”

“He’s stolen your act,” I said.

“With me, hopefully,” said Lewis Schaffer, “there’s some kind of ending where it all comes together and we all have a good time. I think he was told at the time You can’t release this DVD and he released it anyway.

“It’s fascinating in this business what happens when people turn on you – what happens in life when people turn on you. It’s like The Bonfire of The Vanities scenario where the guy is a Master of The Universe one day and the next day he’s running for his life.”

Fatty Arbuckle - or Michael Barrymore?

Fatty Arbuckle – or is it Michael Barrymore?

Michael Barrymore was Fatty Arbuckle,” I said. “As far as I understand it, Fatty Arbuckle had three trials, was found innocent of rape and manslaughter – he didn’t do it, but his entire career was destroyed. He had just organised a party. And, as far as I’m aware, no-one has ever said Barrymore was in any way directly responsible for the death of the guy in the swimming pool. He just hosted a party in a rambling house where something happened. But his career was destroyed.”

“What interests me,” said Lewis Schaffer, “is how do people deal with being idolised one day and being persona non grata the next? I find that really fascinating. The question is What is going to happen to Dapper Laughs?

“He won’t have made that much money,” I said. “One series on ITV2 and a first tour.”

“The point is,” said Lewis Schaffer, “he’s the kind of person who’s doing anything for a laugh. He’s not political; he’s not motivated; he’s not a misogynist or racist; he just wants to be famous and he picked the wrong thing to be famous over. Now he’s thinking: Holy shit! I made a mistake here! It’s not that I agree with what he did or said – I don’t even know exactly what he did or said.”

“I don’t think it was the TV series that did for him,” I said. “It was the comedy club show. Telling a woman in the front row that she was ‘gagging for a rape’. That was way over the top. That was way beyond acceptable.”

“It’s too extreme,” said Lewis Schaffer, “but I imagine he meant it as a joke.”

“I think maybe,” I said, “he just lost control of the character. He was thinking through the character’s mind and lost objective control of what he was doing.”

“He wasn’t experienced enough,” said Lewis Schaffer. “After a while you know what you can and cannot say. He didn’t have that experience and the other comedians turned on him. Well, they don’t even consider him a comedian because he hadn’t done open mic spots or been on a road trip for some agency.”

Jimmy Carr at the 2006 Malcolm Hardee Show

Carr at the 2006 Malcolm Hardee Show (Photograph by Warren King)

I told Lewis Schaffer: “When I staged a five hour Malcolm Hardee show at the Hackney Empire in 2006, I had three comperes for the three parts and, because of their availability, I had to have Jimmy Carr and one of the hosts in the first part. I scheduled Jimmy Carr as the last act in Part 1. Then the compere of Part 1 – who wasn’t available for Part 2 – said he would not introduce Jimmy Carr because he had just done that joke about gypsy moths which had got him a lot of flak. So I had to move Jimmy Carr to the first act of Part 2 because he wasn’t available later.”

“What was the gypsy moth joke again?” asked Lewis Schaffer.

The male gypsy moth can smell the female gypsy moth up to seven miles away – and that fact also works if you remove the word moth. Which is a clever joke.”

“No it isn’t,” said Lewis Schaffer. “It’s not nice to the gypsies.”

I laughed: “Your entire act is based on insulting people. That gypsy moth joke is very well-crafted and, said, in Jimmy Carr’s cynical, throwaway persona I’m sure it was very funny. I never actually heard him tell it, so I don’t know.”

“It IS a well-crafted joke,” agreed Lewis Schaffer, “but the problem is it’s not making fun of the audience or making fun of the audience for believing that gypsies smell. The point is you can’t tell that joke to an audience of non-gypsies. I think Jimmy Carr is hysterically funny but that joke is inappropriate.”

“But you’re always insulting your audience,” I said.

Lewis Schaffer after last night’s show

Lewis Schaffer advice after last night’s Leicester Square show

“If he had an audience of gypsies and he made that joke right to their faces,” said Lewis Schaffer, “that’s OK… In my gig at The Establishment Club this afternoon, I didn’t do any race material. I never do black material unless there are black people there.”

“You’re right,” I admitted. “I suppose I could tell an anti-Semitic joke to you because you’re Jewish and that would be OK, but it would not be acceptable to tell it to…”

“…a room full of Nazis,” said Lewis Schaffer.

“Though I might make good money.” I said.

“You might make some money,” agreed Lewis Schaffer, “but you shouldn’t do it. That’s the point.”

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Filed under Bad taste, Comedy