Monday, March 30, 2015

Ray Badran rape joke furore reveals comedy scene's PC culture

One of the reasons I really like blogging as a medium is that you can actually say what you want to say. If people don't agree with it, fine. If they're deeply offended and even hate your guts for what you said, then they'll snark at you in comments. Also fine.

This is definitely not the case in standup comedy. The culture is heavily, drearily PC. Sheesh, you're treading on egg-shells the whole time in that joint!

That right-on and very selective outrage is mind-stunting, creativity-killing poison for all the arts, of course. But it's particularly toxic (and sad) when it dominates a genre like standup which should be anarchic, rebellious and disrespectful to all po-faced finger-waggers across the political spectrum.

A good illustration of how depressingly childish and nasty it can get involves a comic called Ray Badran. See, at a recent gig for The Melbourne International Comedy Festival he told a joke that some idiot in the audience didn't comprehend. Seizing an opportunity to advertise her spurious sense of moral superiority she basically heckled him (in a rather unique way). He lost his cool and now all hell's broken loose.

The offended audience member, a woman called Cecilia Devlin, claims to have staged a silent protest by sliding under the table. Her malignant pettiness comes through loud and clear. She wasn't staging a protest. She was trying to wreck his act by drawing attention to her own! And she succeeded.

That said, you gotta give her some cool points for inventiveness. Most twits who are too literal-minded to actually get a gag and instead get all offended just yell stuff out or storm off in a huff. But this sustained display of passive aggression certainly subverted that dominant paradigm. It was a kind of anti-performance performance art, really. It was culture jamming of the highest order. She could prolly even get a grant for it ...

Hmm. You never know, it might even become an official artistic genre in its own right! Knowing how many sour-faced, witless, whining hand-wringers there are pumping their pompous poison into the performing arts here there may even be a Festival of Faux-Feminist Table Sliding before too long. We shall see.

But back to Badran's proscribed behaviour: Depressingly, quite a few comics have sided with the sinister forces of censorious sanctimony. And predictably the festival's big enchilada mouthed the requisite PC cant:

This week Comedy Festival director Susan Provan said organisers did not support racist or misogynistic material.

"We would never censor anyone but usually when inexperienced comedians attempt big topics, they tend to fall flat. People will vote with their feet."

That line about censorship is bollocks. Provan declared a fatwa on jokes about Islam remember. And saying people vote with their feet just begs the question: Why didn't Ms Devlin walk out if she was so offended?

Seems remarkably malicious -- not to mention weirdly masochistic -- to hang around under a table, poisoning the atmosphere like a fetid fart in a jammed elevator. For Provan, whose purported position is to promote comedy and encourage creativity, it's quite remarkable to implicitly side with an obnoxious arsehat whose clear aim was to ruin a performance, don't ya think?

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