Ricky Gervais ̶i̶s̶n̶'̶t̶ ̶f̶u̶n̶n̶y̶ ̶a̶n̶y̶m̶o̶r̶e̶ ̶ is funnier than ever ̶
Plus, it turns out that I'm writing a book
"But that joke isn't funny anymore
It's too close to home
And it's too near the bone”
The Smiths - That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore
The other night me and P watched the Ricky Gervais Netflix special 'Armageddon'.
Apparently, he isn't funny any more, according to several professional reviewers in places you could easily predict.
They have to say this because so many journalists are primarily writing for each other, since social media made them self-conscious and prone to status-seeking.
The existence of such rules in that professional echelon of journalism is irritating for those of us who either disagree or don't do conformity in general.
So, unless you're writing for a specifically conservative readership you must profess an 'adult in the room' distaste for little Ricky's naughty schoolboy sentiments.
Yawning is the replacement for outrage to signal disapproval.
So they position themselves as above it all in an eye-rolling kind of way and lament his decline.
<Wink, wink>. I'm educated and cultured so I know what to say
Only unsophisticated people would find this kind of thing funny.
They've had to pivot because complaining about anti-Woke humour as 'harmful' or 'damaging' became old. It was fine a couple of years ago, but when no harm or damage from telling jokes was ever evidenced in the actual world, they had to find another complaint.
So they now moan on quality grounds. And - hilariously - accuracy grounds.
Ricky Gervais doesn't just tell mean jokes, he spreads misinformation and we all know that misinformation is harmful.
They're following a kind of handbook for midwits.
Ian Leslie wrote an interesting critique of these critiques.
From behind Ian's paywall on the piece, this quote captures the essence of our culture's strange current idea of what constitutes moral virtue.
"One question the reviewers might ask is why the two biggest comedians in the world right now are “anti-woke”. In a way, this is a tribute to the triumph of progressive values. Stand-up comedy has always drawn on a vein of rebellion against the public morality of the day, and social progressivism, at least on questions of language and etiquette, holds sway in boardrooms and governments. When comedians conform to orthodoxy they rob themselves of fertile material, which might be why a new generation of comedians hasn’t arisen to make Gervais and Chappelle obsolete. David Stubbs, a very good music critic, recently pontificated that “British comedy has never been in a better moral state”. Oddly, he seems to think this a good thing."
The moment in the 'Armageddon' show that has stuck with me comes 40 minutes in, with the introduction of an imaginary disabled child in the routine. 'Little Timmy' is described as wheelchair-bound and quadriplegic. Predictably 'cruel' jokes about 'Little Timmy' and his many needs for expensive special support are followed by the exhortation that you needn't worry because "he's a fucking racist".
What follows is quite chilling. Because, like much great comedy, it's barely removed from reality.
Gervais bends down to this imaginary child and launches a sustained vituperative attack on his character.
"You little fucking bigot ... you little fucking racist scum ... you little fascist ... you disgust me".
He spits in the face of this imaginary racist and the gag is complete.
As an observation on the 'intersectional' hierarchy promoted by low-brow 'academic' social 'progressivism' it's less amusing than frightening, for the truth at its heart.
That there is this intense and bottomless hate consistently expressed by the social justicey leftish is rarely mentioned in the mainstream, except in conservative circles. But Gervais nails it.
Watching 'Armageddon' comes as a relief, now that the concept of 'kindness' has been so upended. The whooping of the crowd says it all. It's a collective 'phew, it's not just me who's noticed how hateful the be kind, do-good people really are'.
Armageddon provides brief respite, though, because indoctrination into the 'correct' views is relentless on 'mainstream' platforms.
Before Christmas we watched The BBC series Disco: Soundtrack of a Revolution.
It's built around the cultural history of a genre that's close to my heart, having ultimately spawned the various genres of electronic music that soundtrack most of my days now.
The stories around the lead-up to the Stonewall Riots are fascinating. As an old-school liberal it's hard to grasp that in my lifetime there were legal sanctions against men dancing with each other.
But there's an undercurrent of hectoring from various 'scholars' explaining to the viewer how gay, black and female it all was. As if gay, black and female performers weren't popular until disco came along.
Not that disco wasn't especially gay. Obviously it did bring a lot of brilliant black women and a gay vibe into the mainstream culture like nothing previously had. And doubtless it was discomfort with that which led to the infamous moment of Disco Demolition Night.
There are clearly valid 'political' observations to be made about disco, alongside its multifarious other qualities as a culturally impactful genre
What makes the series seem so finger-waggy is that this is basically the theme of the whole series. Observations on the blackness and gayness of it all are never more than a minute or so apart.
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And so you're never quite sure if you're watching a documentary about dance music or rising up from oppression.
Maybe I'm just being old man yells at cloud here, but there was clearly an editorial decision to sideline the musical interest in favour of identity.
The clincher comes at the end when they talk about a passion I've had for 26 years now; house music and its many sub genres.
Being an idealistic kind of soul, my late discovery of house and the 'scene' in general was a revelation.
After years of standing looking at stages where musicians performed, looking down onto a crowd who were being watched over by tattooed men with bull necks, in case anyone stepped out of line, a great club felt like freedom.
Ecstasy instead of beer certainly helped this vibe, but it was also noticeable that no one was looking 'up' at anyone. They were seeing and bonding with each other. Eventually, of course, the rise of the 'super DJ' changed this and everyone began slavishly facing the DJ booth, but for a while it was perhaps the only environment where identity didn't matter.