30/08/2019

The Jo Brand Milkshake Joke - BBC Has Last Laugh

Do you remember when people were throwing milkshakes at political figures? It seems to have stopped. Maybe it's the heatwave and we'd all rather drink the milkshake than waste it.

It kind of culminated with the Jo Brand joke. She hit the news after saying on Radio 4's show Heresy, "Why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?"

The BBC has now decided that the joke went too far. But in a classic case of BBC balance, it also found that the joke wasn't inciting violence.

It's another thing in life where the left and the right can read the news and think they're correct.

Even Jo Brand admitted it was "a somewhat crass and an ill-judged joke", which makes sense from the host of The Great British Bake Off: Extra Slice. That's someone who should never joke about wasting sweet goods. When GBBO was on the BBC it received more than 800 complaints when Diana Beard chucked Iain Watters’ ice cream away, so this is serious stuff.

The BBC found that the joke "went beyond what was appropriate" for a Radio 4 comedy show. Here's the tricky thing, the show is about saying the things that aren't appropriate. The joke can be inappropriate for Radio 4 but by definition that makes it an appropriate joke for the show.

Of course, no show should have jokes that incite violence but as the BBC found, the context of the joke made it clear that she wasn't doing that. Exactly. I have never incited violence but I presume you'd do that on social media, not a Radio 4 show. In the Venn diagram of life "people who riot" and "people who listen to Radio 4" probably don't share much of an overlap.

Nigel Farage said the joke was "incitement of violence" but then he said he'd "Don khaki, pick up a rifle and head for the front lines," if he didn't get the Brexit he wanted. OK, he hasn't done that yet. Or he has done that and the khaki part of that plan has really paid off and that's why no one has seen him.

He wasn't the only one to complain. The BBC said it received 444 complaints about Brand's joke.

Wow. That's around half as many people as complained about a waste of ice cream.

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07/08/2019

We're All Becoming Hot And Unfunny

The experts have run the figures and it is now official, July 2019 was the hottest month ever recorded.

This has the double-effect of giving us a temporary break from people who say climate change can't be real because it was cold in winter and also it stops people saying, "Oh, you think this is hot? I remember the summer of 1976." It was nippy by comparison.

I put forward another theory, that August 2019 is the least funny month in the UK. I am currently performing a show at the Edinburgh Fringe called Better Than. This year there are more comedy performers putting on shows than ever before. Therefore anywhere that isn't Edinburgh surely has fewer comedy performers in it than it has for the rest of the year. It's a funny drought.

In a similar way to extreme weather events being part of a larger trend I think the humour deficit in August shows a general decline in people having a sense of humour. When I mentioned climate change earlier someone probably got all upset because they prefer to think it's a hoax and can't take a joke.

Do you remember when you didn't give two hoots about trade deals? If someone brought up the issue of a customs union you'd mock them for being the dullest person in the pub.

Now if someone hears a point of view they disagree with they don't have a laugh about it the take to Twitter is issue death threats.

The world is becoming hotter and less funny. We're all sweating and not smiling. It's like we're living in a gym.

If you need an antidote to a hot, humourless world head to Edinburgh during August. You can see my stand up show and it's Scotland; the weather makes you feel like it's winter again.
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03/08/2019

Why Do We Hate Clever People

People think being rich is about how much money you have. They are wrong.

That sounds like I am about to go all new-age and say true richness is about having time to know yourself. That's a load of rubbish too.

Being rich is about how much money you have compared to the average person. If you have a million pounds you sound rich but if everyone else in the UK also has a million pounds you'd have to cough up a lot to get that millionaire plumber to come out.

This means that for all the talk of a fairer society it is in the interest of some to keep things unfair and you can see this in the education system.

A new report has found that poorer teenagers are 18 months behind their wealthier peers in their GCSEs. That education gap is largest and growing fastest in parts of northern England.

Part of the problem is that in the working class world we don't value being clever.

On a TV show like Big Brother we vote the smartest ones off first.

It may be different for posh people but when I went to school you didn't want to be seen as keen. Trying hard at school was a sure way to lose friends and when you don't have much other than a little bit of social status you can't afford to lose it.

It's probably impossible to make being clever cool so we should focus on making being dim uncool.

We also know that young people aren't using Facebook these days because older people are. Basically, if grown-ups are doing it young people don't like it.

So we can solve the wealth-based educational gap if old people pretend to be stupid even if they're very clever.

It looks like maybe Boris Johnson will make this country better after all.


See Steve N Allen's Edinburgh Fringe 2019 Show - Better Than
Info and stuff is here
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