The failure of comedians

frankie boyle

Comedy is a pretty delicate art form, but it is often at its best when its offensive, or when it shocks the establishment and mainstream society. I remember a time where stand-up comedians were actually funny enough to be offensive, but in this decade, though some can still a pack a comedic punch, it seems as though comedians have lost their bite, and most of the time, that’s because they’ve sold themselves out to the celebrity industry, where they work as spokesmen, game show hosts, and most often panel show guests.

Some find new life as newspaper columnists. Remember when Frankie Boyle used to be offensive? When I was a teenager, he was one of the most controversial comics I knew, but now he’s a columnist for The Guardian and The Sun (two of the most loathsome news outlets in Britain), where he’s essentially an advocate for Jeremy Corbyn. He has effectively become part of the very establishment that was offended by him, and he’s not the only comic to have fallen into that pattern. Another comic named Stewart Lee became a columnist for The Observer, and David Mitchell, who I used to like as a teenager, is now a writer for The Guardian.

That seems to be a recurring problem with comedians in this country – they establish a career as stand-up comedians, and then become popular as celebrities, and become part of the celebrity industry, which then puts them in a situation where they find themselves shilling products on TV, but the comedians who go on to write columns are given a podium with which to advance their own views, which is not what a good comedian should do. That apparently doesn’t stop them from doing so. This happened frequently on Channel 4’s Ten O’Clock Live, a satirical news programme where comedians like Charlie Brooker and Jimmy Carr use their privileged position to promote a partisan left-wing agenda.

Though Channel 4’s pretentious spin on nightly news was cancelled in 2013, looking back on it, I find it remarkably similar to a more popular American show with pretty much the same format. Of course, I’m talking about The Daily Show, which has been declining in quality ever since Jon Stewart left. However, I noticed that The Daily Show has a very strong progressive bias, or at least has been used by Comedy Central to advance a progressive agenda. During Trevor Noah’s tenure, the show had become focused on enforcing a progressive narrative on TV, to the point that they are willing to ignore the facts when attempting to present an issue.

A recent example of this manifested when they attempted to “investigate” the wage gap in women’s soccer. The Daily Show presented a very progressive spin on the issue, arguing that female soccer players should receive the same pay as male soccer players. Once you actually do the research on that subject, you’ll find out that this simply can’t be done, due to the fact that women’s soccer is less profitable than men’s soccer. Once you realize that, it follows that The Daily Show is essentially talking nonsense that may as well sound like they got it from a gender studies course. In fact, they interviewed a non-progressive writer, Gavin McInnes, and McInnes stated in a recent article that the producers altered the interview in order to make him sound like a crazy sexist, while missing the point of his argument. As it stands, The Daily Show has become a platform by which the personalities in it can spew whatever progressive nonsense they want, and the audience will accept it.

For me, there’s something awfully wrong with comedy if this can happen. The majority of comedians and comedy shows have become so tamed by the modern climate of political correctness that they have no bite left. That isn’t true for all comedians, but it’s a pattern that I’ve noticed, and that’s certainly the prevalent direction that many are taking, and it indicates to me that comedians are now more afraid of offending a mass audience than ever. With all the easily-offendable neo-progressive activists just waiting to pounce on people who say the “wrong words”, I’m not surprised, but comedians should never be afraid to offend people’s sensibilities, because they can only be truly validated if they are challenged.

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3 thoughts on “The failure of comedians

  1. I actually find the fact that most modern comedy takes the form of panel shows one of the biggest reasons why comedy is no longer funny. Many comedians, instead of wanting to follow a career which made people laugh, seemed to want to become comedians so they could become close to celebrities. Watching the panel shows, it becomes obvious that the comedians appear to be more friendly to some of the celebrity contestants than others and refuse to joke about their lifestyle, while making cruel comments at other, “undesirable” celebrities (such as allowing someone to insult a rival on their show, while making a series of jokes which all seem to have “Susan Boyle” as the punchline) or going to extra lengths to humiliate unpopular people. I can remember a comedy panel show which consisted of a team of celebrities opposing a team of non-celebrities. It used to annoy me that the host, a comedian, would spend the beginning of the show talking to the celebrities and making insulting comments about how the non-celebrities look. I actually read that the concept of the show changed to two teams of celebrities because the non-celebrities got so upset about how they were treated. Reading interviews with comedians, it seems obvious that many of them just want to be friends to celebrities, talking about their “Celebrity BFF” and praising useless celebrities for being an “inspiration”. I have also noticed that women have been banned from physical challenges in panel shows. Many panel shows include a part where the celebrities have to complete a challenge while avoiding an embarrassing forfeit. Until recently, some of the challenges and punishments were completed by women, however, women do not seem to take part in them anymore and just seem to sit at the side smiling.

      • I forgot to mention that I prefer comedians to have interests outside of celebrity culture. While I get annoyed when celebrities seem to believe they have the correct opinion on everything, I do find some of the comments from comedians interesting when they are about topics they actually know about. I was interested to read Stewart Lee’s observation that comedians have changed from eccentrically dressed performers to men in casual suits, which mimics the change of comedians from outsiders looking into society to celebrities.
        I also find it interesting that Frankie Boyle seems to identify himself as left-wing when his defenders seem to be libertarian right-wingers.

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