Posting my Ls
Roast Battle video; gig dates for the rest of 2021; a pretentious essay about banter
Thanks so much to the SEVEN people who came to see me fail to win the G&B New Act competition.
Despite all my efforts to rig the crowd in my favour, only one of the extra fans I brought (in addition to the compulsory bringer) got a ballot to vote… And to be honest the standard was so high that it would have been a miscarriage of justice for me to win anyway. Ros Hale, Phil Henderson and Lewis Badham were all very good.
My other big gig last week was my roast battle against Mark O’Keefe. Here it is in full for your viewing pleasure:
This is way more nerve-wracking to do than a typical open mic and I didn’t deliver some of my jokes as well as I could have. Also, I forgot to do some rejoinders I wrote where I imply that Mark’s wife is a cheap prostitute and that he beats her.
I hope to keep doing roast battles and getting better at them. If you’re a comic and want to do this with me as a pair, please get in touch. Please no Irish.
The Guardian is at it again with the terrible comedy thinkpieces. This time it’s I’m a comedian and banter is my job - this is the truth about racist jokes by Shazia Mirza.
The piece is in response to that cricket scandal where Azeem Rafiq (an Asian player who just retired) says he got a lot of racist abuse, whereas it seems like his white colleagues say it was just “banter”.
What exactly is banter? Mirza asserts that there’s a clear bright line between abuse and banter. Her example of abuse is this:
When I was a child, my mum and I were getting on a packed train at Birmingham New Street when a white woman came on board, pushed my mum off the train and said, “Get out the way you Paki bastard!” It’s been 30 years since that incident and I still feel sad and terrified every time I remember it. I remember the aggression and hatred with which it was said, and the horror not only of the word, but that nobody said anything to defend my mum.
That is not banter.
I agree that’s definitely not banter.
Her example of banter is this:
“I like your handbag!” I say.
“It was only a pound, from the pound shop,” she says.
“No! I thought everything in the pound shop was £10.99. You’ve been undercharged luv, you need to go back and pay the rest!”
This is an exchange I had with an audience member while I was on stage last week. Me and the woman didn’t know each other, we had a bit of a laugh, nobody was abused or attacked.
It’s called banter. I know what it is because I’m a comedian: banter is my job, I do it every night.
Depending on which dictionary you use, you’ll see banter defined as:
“the playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks”
“to speak to or address in a witty and teasing manner”
“an exchange of light, playful, teasing remarks; good-natured raillery”
(Mirza agrees with this definition later in the essay).
To me, the central concept of banter is that there is an element of teasing and mocking, but that it’s done playfully and without intent to actually hurt the other person’s feelings.
If you go up to someone you don’t know on the street and racially abuse them, clearly, that’s not banter. Nor is it a ‘racist joke’; it’s not a joke.
But what if you make a teasing joke about the racial background of someone you know and like? Or more to the point, what if you’re doing a roast battle and saying horrible racist things about the Irish (none of which you mean) as part of the show, and the ‘target’ of your ‘abuse’ is OK with it?
According to Mirza:
As comedians, we often banter with each other, make jokes and laugh at one another – but I have never heard anyone making a joke at another comedian’s expense based on their race or religion, and I am certain that if they did, they would be called out on it.
Shazia Mirza is an accomplished, clever comedian who used to be pretty edgy (note that she apparently thought it was OK to joke about Jews and lesbians in 2015).
So I don’t know why she’d write such obvious bullshit.
Roast Battle UK is full of comedians mocking other comedians’ race and/or religion every Friday night. You can still see actual professional comedians doing similar roasts too. I guess the Guardian wanted a simplistic ‘social justice’ take with no possibility of a grey area, and she’s OK with pandering to that.
Now to be clear: it’s not OK to racially abuse someone and then try to pass it off as “banter”. That’s definitely a tactic that bullies and racists use.
The opposite situation is also possible: maybe somebody aims for friendly banter, but misjudges what the other person will find funny. Nowadays a lot of people who get all their ideas from Twitter will parrot the catchphrase “intent doesn’t matter”, but that’s stupid. Of course an ill-judged joke made with friendly intent is very different from racially abusing a stranger.
I don’t give a fuck about cricket, so I haven’t read much about the Rafiq case. But it seems to me that these are all possibilities:
The white cricketers were sincerely abusing their team-mate and are now trying to pass it off as ‘banter’
The white cricketers were trying to bond with their team-mate with friendly teasing, but sadly misjudged it and actually upset him, but he didn’t feel he could speak up
It was genuinely friendly banter, but now Azeem Rafiq’s cricket career is over, he’s trying to recast it as abuse for whatever reason
Now considering that last possibility feels uncomfortably like victim-blaming, but Rafiq apparently had no problem posting ‘banter’ about Jewish and African people.
What kind of jokes are acceptable? Let’s give the last word to Shazia Mirza:
Banter might take aim at the clothes people are wearing, their hairstyle, their facial hair, their shoes. Racism should never come into it.
People’s clothes and hairstyle could never reflect their racial or religious background, so those topics are safe. If I ever get into a roast battle against Shazia Mirza, I’ll stick to making fun of her facial hair. To be safe.
Gig dates at last
I’ve got nothing on next week so I’m going to use the spare time to write a new 5 minutes. If you come and see me (and tell me in advance), I promise it will be mostly brand new stuff that you haven’t seen before. Here are some dates for later in December:
Tuesday December 7th 7pm - See You Next Tuesday, The Secret Comedy Club, Hove
My first gig outside London! Thanks to all the kind people who have said they will try to come to this one. I will be not be doing new material at this one as I will be trying to impress them. Tickets £5.
Artista Cafe & Gallery, 42 Waterloo St, Hove BN3 1AY
Thursday December 9th 8pm (doors 7pm) - Monkey Business, Camden
Tickets £8.25. Happy hour before 8pm. No, I don’t know how I managed to list this twice in the email version.
All About Eve pub, 31 Jamestown Rd, London NW1 7DB
Wednesday 15 December 7:30pm - Not Another Comedy Night, Herne Hill
Free. This one is a bringer, so please let me know if you can commit to coming. It’s right near Herne Hill railway station, so should be pretty easy to get to even if you’re a North London ponce.
The Florence, 131-133 Dulwich Road, Herne Hill, London SE24 0NG
Sunday December 19th 8pm (doors 7pm) - Monkey Business, Camden
Note that this is in a different Camden venue from the other Monkey Business one. This one has 2 for 1 cocktails if you get there early, and nice pizza. They haven’t put up the ticket page for this one yet.
Heroica Live, 37 Chalk Farm Rd, Chalk Farm, London NW1 8AJ
Tuesday December 21st 7:30pm (doors 7pm) - Love Comedy, Old Street
Looks like it’s in a nice cocktail bar. I think tickets will be £1 when the listing goes up.
Loves Company, Unit 1, Imperial Hall, 104-122 City Rd, London EC1V 2NR
As usual, do please double-check gig details against the official listings in case I fucked up.
This is a great set about catfishing the KKK (thanks JZ for telling me about this):
Like all of Edgar Wright’s films since the Cornetto Trilogy, Last Night In Soho is brilliantly directed but flawed. It has some serious story problems in my opinion. Still worth watching for the stylish direction and excellent cast, including my future second wife, Thomasin Mckenzie.
Thomasin is also in The Power of The Dog which got a limited cinema release and will be available on Netflix on Wednesday. It’s a really good Western psychological drama. Ignore the stupid critics chattering about ‘toxic masculinity’, it’s a lot more complicated and morally ambiguous than that. I guarantee you won’t know where the story is going. Thomasin wears a maid outfit, because she’s playing a maid.
We’ve all imagined it: what if there was a portal from my bedroom to a Catholic girl’s school in Ireland? Amazingly, Australians actually made a TV show with that premise called Foreign Exchange and it’s included with Amazon Prime Video. I’ve only watched a couple of episodes but the first episode does a great job of setting up the characters and premise. (Thanks Duffy for telling me about this).
Audible recommendation: A Load of Hooey by Bob Odenkirk is free if you have an Audible membership. It’s a collection of funny short pieces, read by comedians like David Cross and Megan Amram.
Maybe I’ll write a pretentious article about exactly how I would have changed the script of Last Night In Soho. Let me know if you do or don’t want more pretentious essays like On “banter” above. Maybe you want to know what I really think about the concept of cancel culture. Would you prefer to receive articles and essays like that as a separate midweek email, or included in the weekend one?
Also, what if there was a Sorry I Said That podcast? What then, huh? What then, punk?
For comedians ONLY
Don’t forget: the next date for applying to do Angel Comedy Raw is 1 December, this Wednesday. They only open up bookings once every 3 months, and it’s a good show to do because it’s a real comedy audience in a decent sized room, with a great MC. Full details of how to apply here: https://www.angelcomedy.co.uk/courses/ (basically you have to email firstname.lastname@example.org ON THE DAY).
I am thinking of applying to do the Soho Theatre Comedy Lab Plus course next year - applications are going to open soon. I would like to hear from anyone who’s done this course - would you say it’s worth £125? There’s a showcase of comedy from the people who just completed the course on Saturday 11th December - let me know if you want to go and see that with me.
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It’s my fault: I keep forgetting to mention sorryisaidthat.biz at the end of shows. I paid Mark O’Keefe to plug it on his podcast, and he told everyone to go to “I’msorrynotsorry.biz.com” or something equally wrong, because he was drunk, like a typical fucking mick. That’s £4 I’m not getting back.
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Thanks again to everyone who has ever come to see my shows, or given me feedback and advice.