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One rule for Chinese comedians, another for Iranian ones?

One rule for Chinese comedians, another for Iranian ones?

I have occasionally dreamt of being a stand-up comedian – oh, the fame! the groupies! The nights of travelling up and down the M1 at 2am before parking in a dodgy service station! – and have therefore occasionally pondered on what my opening line would be.

Omid Djalili‘s opening gambit was to come on and be a generic Middle Eastern stereotype, fulfilling various national stereotypes before turning it all in on itself. And I’d figured if it’s good enough for him, it’d be good enough for me. (Aside from the fact I can’t do impersonations to save my life).

So I was surprised to read on the BBC Arts’ Editor’s report on comedy that Joanne Lau, a Canadian-Chinese comedian, was taken to task on comedy review site Chortle for doing pretty much the same thing in her opening act. And that she’s had to change it as a result.

I don’t particularly remember anyone taking Omid to task for doing the same thing when he started out, and it seems to have worked for him. Any particular reason for this discrepancy?

Is Sarah Silverman funny?

Is Sarah Silverman funny?

When it was announced that Sarah Silverman would be gracing London with her presence, a few of my more adventurours comedy friends were excited. At least until the price of £40 a ticket was revealed, at which point my friends slowly backed away from the idea of buying a ticket.

Personally, I’m not sure why it’s funny to laugh at/with a skinny white Jewish woman making a complete balls-up about hot taboo topics like racism and AIDS. I’m fairly sure most grandmothers do the same thing, for a start. But then I’ve never really liked The Office or South Park either – what’s so funny about five-year-olds saying naughty things? (I will readily admit to loving the South Park Movie – for whatever reason, that so works as a spoof of musicals).

It would seem that having actually watched Ms Silverman, many London fans were bitterly disappointed when they spent £40 and only got 35 minutes of her performance, followed by a rather weak Q&A when she revealed that she had no more material. A fair bit of heckling and boo’ing ensued…

Why would you fly 6 hours across the Atlantic to perform just 35 minutes of material that you’ve performed before – especially considering she’d done the publicity circuit that weekend, miming a blowjob with Ricky Gervais on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. She might have been very scared by the London audience and their vibe of “C’mon, impress me” – but then, she’s played New York. And if you can break that crowd…

Anyway, bring on Eddie Izzard in December. Although he’s cost me £50 a ticket…

A weekend of comedy

A weekend of comedy

So, as largely predicted, Comic Relief turned out to be more or less a dead duck, comedically speaking.

I still don’t see what’s particularly funny about Little Britain – although it was vaguely amusing when Dennis Waterman sauntered onto the stage – and the much-vaunted Vicar of Dibley LAST-EVER episode was just embarrassing. I must have been having a nightmare when Mitchell & Webb came on as two singing snooker commentators – and I’m still struggling to find the comedy between two comedy characters in a wheelchair singing I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles). It was trying so desperately hard to be this year’s Amarillo but it’s not got the novelty factor – or the “dance” which gets funnier with repetition. Plus the song is so over-familiar anyway.

The worst moments were any time Davina McCall was on screen. Alternating between squirmingly-orgasmic thanks to the corporate sponsors (“Let’s hear a huge cheer for Cisco Systems! Yeah!!!!”) and oh-so-sincere think-of-the-children-please-think-of-the-children appeals for more donations, one is reminded why she’s on Celebrity Big Brother and advertising keep-fit videos and not, say, doing a Fearne Cotton and appearing on pretty much anything that has a live broadcast. Hell, in one weekend Fearne did Comic Relief, Eurovision’s Making Your Mind Up and I’m sure I heard her doing the Radio 1 breakfast show this morning.

Still, at least the Catherine Tate sketches weren’t too bad and the Ricky Gervais indulgent skits broke the norm. But they didn’t raise a titter.

Fortunately, Channel 4 rode to the rescue on Sunday with yet another list show – but this time listing the top 100 comedy stand-ups. I’d quibble with quite a few choices:
– Peter Kay above Eddie Izzard ?!
– Harry Hill above Bill Hicks ?!
– Chris Rock above Jerry Seinfeld?
– Billy Connolly as the top stand-up comedian ?!

and it was strange how most of the stand-up comedians I’ve seen on the circuit were languishing in the 20s, while the likes of Peter Kay and Lee Evans – funny, but a little too slick and ungenuine for my liking – were at the very top – but it was a good three hours of entertainment. Now if only more stand-up comedians came to North Wales!

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