Lawrence Vs Brand.

I think the thing I’ve found most interesting on this here comedians crucible of what we can and cannot express within our jobs/opinions/lives is the amount of comics in the same week who went out their way to savage Russell Brand for saying “nice” things while not defending his freedom of speech, while passionately defending Andrew Lawrences freedom of speech to say “not so nice” things, while being quite accepting of what was being said.

These are interesting times. Obviously I find much of what Andrew Lawrence said pretty abhorrent. Of course I do. I’m one of the leftie/liberal hacks he’s targeting. But I’m also an advocate of free speech and I’m delighted he’s said it. I can think of a couple of other folk I work with that have exactly the same views but not so high a profile. Do I refuse to work alongside them? I do not.

So let’s look at Mr Brand first. I can’t ever really say I was huge fan. But that changed last year when he did the editorial of the New Statesman. It was informed, eloquent and raised some great points. Yes he got it wrong with the “don’t vote” thing. Especially because that’s what everybody decided to leap on and completely ignore the main thrust of his polemic. The one thing I’ve personally taken from the whole shebang is I’ve read the New Statesman ever since and I feel I’m better informed because of it. I really am bamboozled as to why such a good looking, opinionated millionaire manages to attract such disdain from the community.

I haven’t seen Mr Brands latest News Night appearance or read his book. I’m of absolutely no doubt that some of what he says is ill informed or total pie in the sky thinking. Here’s why I like him. It was actually his involvement that put me on to reading the New Statesman. More shame me for letting celebs influence my tastes.  So maybe the good thing about him is he raises the profile of important humanitarian issues and then we go look at more informed sources for the real solutions. This is a good debate we’ve all had about him this week and the points he airs. But we are having it BECAUSE OF Russell Brand. Here ends the defence.

And so the prosecution. It may come as a surprise but like Andrew I am also anti Europe. The main reason I have for this is I think it is a gang master for moving about cheap labour and exploiting workers. And there’s the difference. In saying this I’m attacking the cause not the symptom.

It’s Andrews language and targets of attack that so concern me in his initial diatribe. But can I first take a wee look at the type of comedian he attacks. He describes, “Out of touch, smug, superannuated, overpaid TV comics with their cosy lives in their west-London ivory towers taking a supercilious, moralising tone, pandering to the ever-creeping militant political correctness of the BBC with their frankly surreal diversity targets.”

For anybody that knows me and the lack of impact I’ve made on the comedy business there’s no way I can fit into this bracket. Jings how I wish. In fact in reply I would say Andrew fits this description much more than me. I accuse him of being a smug, overpaid TV comic living in an ivory tower, because from my career perspective that is what he is. It’s not only Andrew that everything didn’t come up roses for but he’s had a way better kick of the ball than I ever did. So why the hatred? I’m frustrated too but it does not manifest in attacks on minority groups.

I do wonder if he’s actually ever had to watch 300 EDL marching past his house chanting vile hatreds on Islam and anything else their bile gets directed at that day from his London hole. I somehow think probably not.

Then there was the comment on “liberal back-slapping on panel shows like Mock The Week where aging, balding, fat men, ethnic comedians and women-posing-as-comedians, sit” If this was intended to sound like the language of a bigot then he did a no bad job. I’m just glad I’ve still got my hair. I don’t think we need pour over those words too much. Others justifiably already have.

The bit that really concerned me was in the comment(s) “for every person that comes here and contributes to our culture there are those benefit tourists, criminals and those that refuse to assimilate.” I feel here he’s laying the blame for our economic woes squarely at the foot not just of the immigrant but also at the underclass. But hey he’s a right wing comic. That is his (new) job.

How terrible it is that everybody moving around the various bits of the planet does not walk along the great and the goods corridors that Andrew feels he strides. For shame that not all of us can reach the same salient heights of human endeavour that Andrew so clearly must feel he has.

I’ve mentioned further back what I feel the problem with Europe is. I’d rather we kick up the way than down. But that’s the fundamental difference in our thinking.

Overpopulation isn’t just a British problem it’s global. And yes I feel it needs addressed. But I advise great caution in the language we use when addressing such issues. Otherwise somebody somewhere will shoulder the brunt of the blame. If you’re going to shout, shout to the top.

Does any of this mean I’m opposed to Andrew expressing his views? Absolutely not. But if the gloves come off we should be allowed to take a swing back. I actually quietly respect his…er…gall. But I also fiercely defend my/our right to be equally as galling.

When bigotry goes mainstream.

“Migrants with HIV should be banned from entering the UK” So sayeth the grand pooba of lowest common denominator politics Nigel Farage upon his latest victory in a by-election. No matter how you dress it up this is bigotry.

I did a gig recently for a bunch of trade unionists where I did a routine about UKIP. Afterwards an activist said I shouldn’t portray UKIP as fascists because “if I cry wolf then the wolf may just show up.” I pointed out that as a comedian it’s my job to exaggerate and demonise and if you take jokes literally they lose their impact. But it really brought home to me how mainstream and accepted UKIP have become to both left and right. Let’s not forget it’s only been about 20 odd months since David Cameron described them as a bunch of racist fruit cakes.

Here’s how the routine goes.

“So have we any UKIP supporters in tonight? OK no need to shout out just raise your hands” (I THEN THROW UP A NAZI SALUTE)

“So Nigel Farage actually made a racist comment in the European elections. When asked he said, he wouldn’t want Romanians living next door to him. now, no matter how you dress it up that’s a racist remark. However, next day he got away with it in the press because he said he was tired. And that was that!”

“Really? Is that how you become a racist? look I’ve never driven 6 hours back from Wales, knackered at the end of the day. You know how you’re just sitting there in your chair drifting off?”

(I THEN ACT AS IF IM DOSING OFF) “Oh man I’m so tired…I wish I could just…just go…just go and…round up the darkies!”

“SHIT! What happened there? I’m sorry I was tired! I had no idea what I was saying.” (THEN START TO FEIGN FALLING ASLEEP AGAIN) “I’m just so tired…I just want to…just want to get off…get off…and…and burn the poofters !”

“OH SHIT!I did again. Oh this is dreadful. every time I nod off I become some kind of xenophobe. My God don’t let me go to bed I might turn the sheets into an outfit.”

“What’s happening here? Are we sleepwalking into fascism? Maybe that’s why it’s called YOU-KIP.” 

Now in my defence I don’t really think I said they were fascists. What I hope I implied though is that parties like UKIP may be the perfect breeding ground for much less palatable policies than many of their already fairly dubious standings.

Just in yesterdays Sunday Independent there’s an article on the way Farage dresses. Admittedly the writer of the article fashion editor Alexander Fury points out that Farages  adoption of dressing like a country gent is to reassure us of an old Englishness from days of yore and that what lies beneath is a more mercenary idealist.

The article didn’t cause me any real concern. It was the front page ad for the article that caught my attention. Here’s what it said.

HOW TO WEAR CAMOFARAGE. Nigel seems to be the one to watch, so should the other party leaders follow suit?

Doesn’t this strike you as tonally quite pro Farage? And this is the Independent a proposed liberal broadsheet. We now seem to be on first name terms with the man. the more formal full naming or calling him by his surname is gone. It also could suggest at a glanced reading his policies are out in front and the rest of Westminster needs to catch up.

I’m sure there is many an article written on media manipulation. What’s going on with the Kippers at the moment though is of serious concern. From “racists” to dapper dandies in 20 odd months is quite a leap. Now we’re being told they are to get a debating platform in the lead to the election. All fine and well by me in the name of democracy, but where is the Greens and SNPs platform? Surely they’re also experiencing a political surge as people turn to alternative votes from the Westminster three? Yeah but it’s just not as…err…British?

This is a dangerous game the media are playing. Personally I think UKIP are dangerous and a breeding ground for future nasties. I also think anyone who votes UKIP is a fucking moron. Sorry if I sound a bit bigoted there…but I’m tired.

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