(A version of this piece was also published on the Indian news site WSN)
A couple of weeks ago, I staged five daily hour-long chat shows in the final week of the Edinburgh Fringe.
In the first show, the guests were comedian Arthur Smith and doyenne of Fringe comedy reviewers Kate Copstick (who hates being called Kate). This is a short extract:
ARTHUR: A naked man is funny whereas, with a naked woman, there are different things going on.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Why?
ARTHUR: Well… because of the evil that is Man.
COPSTICK: A round of applause, please. The feminist contingent has arrived.
ARTHUR: Well, I do consider myself a feminist. When I arrived at university in 1974, there was a woman setting up The Women’s Liberation Society. You only had to think about it. Men had been oppressing women for thousands of years and she was absolutely right.
I always thought that the feminist ethos would continue more. For example, the ‘Ms’ thing. Fair enough. Why does a woman have to announce her marital status on a form by being Miss or Mrs? Men don’t have to. So I just assumed Ms would become standard, but it didn’t.
I assumed that the Feminist revolution, for want of a better word, would continue, but then Lad Culture suddenly appeared, courtesy of Frank Skinner and David Baddiel amongst others. And porn was alright.
COPSTICK: Porn IS alright!
ARTHUR: Yeah, but… I’m not suggesting porn should be illegal, but it’s another area of controversy.
COPSTICK: Have you ever been on a porn set?
ARTHUR: I was asked… Victoria Coren…
COPSTICK: Oh, that’s not a proper porn set. That’s middle-class girls playing at making porn.
JOHN: Copstick has proper porn sets.
ARTHUR: I’ve always had this joke about balancing a tray on the end of me knob. It’s an idea that perhaps I could learn to do.
COPSTICK: I was only asking because I have spent quite a long while within the porn industry.
ARTHUR: Have you?
ARTHUR: I didn’t know that.
COPSTICK: Oh yes.
JOHN: She owns the Erotic Review.
COPSTICK: But I’m not talking about the Erotic Review. I’m talking about hard core porn. Proper hard core, you know? Every industry has its sleazy end. I know nothing about the illegal stuff. I’m talking about… The mainstream porn industry is where the one group of people who can turn up on a set with a list of what they will do and what they won’t do is the women. And that list is adhered to.
A very good friend of mine does everything. She does things probably none of the lovely people here could even imagine.
JOHN: Such as?
COPSTICK: Have you ever seen a cream pie?
ARTHUR: Oh, I’ve heard of that one. There’s a woman I know who’s actually quite well-known who said Ooh, I’ve seen this lovely profiterole. I’ve got me eye on it. I didn’t understand what she was talking about, but… she… she doesn’t eat it. Let’s put it like that.
COPSTICK: My friend does double-anal, she does double-pussy, she does cream pie, she does everything.
ARTHUR: With profiteroles?
COPSTICK: Well, there’s somebody there balancing them on a tray on his dick.
JOHN: And then?
ARTHUR: Is this comedy or porn?
COPSTICK: Oh, it’s porn.
ARTHUR: It sounds quite funny, doesn’t it?
COPSTICK: She’ll do all these things, but she doesn’t like anyone playing with her nipples. So, on her list of things the guys are not allowed to do, none of them are allowed to go anywhere near her nipples, no matter what else they are doing… And, if they do, she can stop the scene. The women are not downtrodden in porn… I haven’t convinced you, Arthur?
JOHN: Few people know you’re in the erotic industry.
COPSTICK: I thought we were talking about Arthur.
JOHN: Few people know you were in the erotic industry, Arthur.
ARTHUR: Mr Knobbo? He never really caught on.
JOHN: There was a lot of nudity surrounding Malcolm Hardee in the 1980s for no reason I could figure out except The Roman In Britain was getting publicity.
ARTHUR: Well, like I said, naked men are funny.
ARTHUR: Kate will tell you.
COPSTICK: It is the danglies. Little squishy things that dangle are quite funny.
ARTHUR: Well, the testicles and penis are slightly silly things. The rest of your body doesn’t have things hanging off. You look at them and you think What the hell are…
COPSTICK: One wonders what Mother Nature was thinking… And there are an increasing number of chaps in really quite middle-of-the-road comedy shows who, at the end of the show, just randomly get their knobs out.
If I was male and I was going to get my knob out, I would want to know that people were going to have to gasp Whoaaah! but none of them are. Maybe it’s just a comedian thing. They’re all…
ARTHUR: All comedians have small knobs?