Monday, 31 October 2011

Gig No.4 - Mammas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys

Did a fourth gig, didn’t I? But first, please enjoy these messages.

My amazingly superficial research (via Google. Thanks Google! Please note, other search engines are available. But they’re totally pointless. Thanks Google!) I have discovered that it’s known as Dead Baby Comedy. That is, comedy that’s intended to shock, appall, gross out and so on.

Having played at and attended several open mic gigs of late, I can confirm that this style of comedy is very much live and kicking. In the past 3-4 weeks I have heard more rape, paedophilia and dead baby jokes than in the rest of my life put together. This isn’t from a bunch of blokey blokes in the pub saying things like ‘eh, here‘s one for ya, what‘s 12 inches, blue and makes women scream?’, this is from intelligent, savvy young people who have thought about, written and prepared their material for an intelligent, savvy young crowd (which, a lot of the time, turns out to be ‘eh, here’s one for ya, what’s 12 inches, blue and makes women scream?’).

Now. I’m no Mary Whitehouse. I believe everything can be ripe for comedy, if done in the right way and handled correctly. I’m not a great fan of making jokes about sexual assault or child abuse and I believe that if it’s done it has to be handled with a huge amount of skill and deftness, otherwise it is just gratuitous. But that’s not my main complaint. The main problem here is the sheer laziness of the material. Not only are these jokes three times older than the comics re-hashing them, they’re just so weak.

And what do they want from us? People can’t genuinely laugh, because the jokes are so shit. People can’t be shocked, because the jokes are so old. I suppose the comedians want us to think ‘I can’t believe they said that! How bold!’. And, amazingly, that is exactly what I think. I can’t believe they’ve repeated an old, thoughtless, cheap gag from the 1970s. How bold of them to come here and expect an experienced comedy audience to have any other reaction than walking out in massive disappointment.

Dear other comedians. Have you any (first or second hand) experience of a) rape, b) child abuse, or c) infant death? Have you got anything new or interesting to bring to the world of comedy about these subjects? Have you got a joke on these subjects that hasn’t been told several thousand times just this calendar year? No you fucking haven’t, so fuck the fuck off.

I’m taking a rape alarm to the next gig and will be setting it off every time someone makes a ‘shocking’ joke that’s so shit it feels like I’m being violated. I’ll take spare batteries.

Ooh and one more thing. If you tell a ‘Dead Baby’ joke and the audience don’t laugh, don’t say ‘ooh, bit much for you, wasn’t it?’ or ‘woarh, that’s shocked you, hasn’t it?’. Don’t say that. Say this.


‘Oh. I can see none of you are laughing at my joke about my dad dressing up as Santa and forcing me to perform oral sex upon him at Christmastime. I imagine that’s probably because not only is my joke deeply offensive to every living being, let alone children who have suffered sexual abuse, but it isn’t even really my joke. It’s a well-worn shock tactic that’s been used by comedians for, possibly, centuries and this is just my own desperately lazy interpretation of it. In fact, if I’m being honest, I don’t even find it funny myself, I just don’t have enough confidence in the rest of my material and I’m worried about what would happen if you didn’t laugh at it. With this ‘Dead Baby’ material, I can at least hide being the tiny cloak of being shocking or controversial. I’m sorry. I really am. I won’t do it again. If any of you in this room have been affected by any of the sensitive topics that I have so dully and cheaply sent up, then I can only hope that you never have to hear such cockwash ever again.’

Say that.

Gig No.4 - Party Piece, The Queen’s Head, Kings Cross
Tuesday 25th October 2011

So, I tried out all my best rape, paedophile and dead baby jokes and they went REALLY BADLY.

Only joking.

This gig was in the delightful Queen’s Head (good beer, well done) and was remarkable for two reasons.

Firstly, the pub is just one room. Which means, when you play, you play to the whole pub. Like it or not. Whether people came for comedy or not. I had got very used to scurrying upstairs to a private room with a bunch of other geeks, and reading out our funnies to each other and then scuttling out before the ‘normies’ worked out what was going on and lynched us or something. When I arrived I spent 20 minutes trying to find the stairs to the room above the pub where the comedy would be. I even wilfully ignored the stage and microphone staring at me at the back of the pub. Probably for something else, I reassured myself. It wasn’t.

Doing stand-up comedy to a whole pub filled with people who have come to drink and not watch stand-up comedy is very much like making love to a beautiful woman.

Like making love to a beautiful woman in a pub filled with people who have come to drink and not watch you make love to a beautiful woman. And then realising that you’re not actually making love to a beautiful woman at all but, in fact, you’re just wanking over a copy of Reader’s Wives. Wives of the people who have come here to have a drink and not watch you imagine making love to a beautiful woman whilst actually, in fact, wanking over a copy of Reader’s (who are in fact the drinkers) Wives (their wives, in fact in fact) inside of which are, in fact, their wives.

It’s actually nothing like that. But it is a bit weird.

And secondly, I was the first comedian onstage. Yes, with a whole three gigs under my fraying belt, I opened the night. I imagine the MC took one look at me and thought ‘THIS GUY will slay them, he must open. I like the cut of his jib, I like the way he walks, talks and chews bubblegum at the same time, I like his swagger, his strut, his way with women, his confidence, his POWERFUL JAWLINE. Ah, hell, I just like him.’


He just did the whole thing in alphabetical order. Either way, it made me poo myself.

Hey ho.

The much misunderstood Animaniacs had a great feature called Good Idea/Bad Idea. Let’s revive it.

Good Idea - spending 1-2 minutes interacting with the audience, to get them onside/warmed up and laughing.

Bad Idea - spending 1-2 minutes interacting with the audience, to get them onside/warmed up and laughing at the start of a tight five minute set and then attempting to mash the five minute set into the remaining three minutes.


No. No I won’t and you can’t make me. Bah. As the MC for the evening said (not unpleasantly, I should stress), I made them laugh twice. TWICE. Two times. x2. Doublelaugh. Deux. Dos. Dau. Multilaugh. Laughplural(s). Ambilaugh. Both the laughs. A pair of laughs. A brace of laughs. How many laughs for you there, sir? Oh, a couple of laughs please. Duolaugh. Laughtwins. HA and HA.

With thanks to Tom Webb for letting me come and play, and to MC Nelson de Gouveia. Please note that the above Dead Baby rant was not intended to be related to Party Piece. Thanks!

Soooooooooo. Got a gig coming up Tuesday 1st and Wednesday 2nd. I’m aiming for three laughs per night. Triplelaugh. Laugh hattrick. Thricelaugh. Ah, you get the idea…

Bye! Love you!


  1. tom and i used to work together at soho!

  2. Good to hear that your gigs are totting up.

    Thought you might be interested in this Wired feature from a few months ago:

    It's about a theory of humour called "benign violation" - I was a bit unconvinced, but in short, it argues that people like Dead Baby jokes because it violates them in a safe environment. Like the way you'd laugh if tickled by somebody you trust, rather than say, an angry hobo.