Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Causing offence for laughs

In the wake of the Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross phone saga, in The Guardian comedy writer Laurence Howarth reflects on the experience of offending people in the search for laughs - his radio sitcom, Safety Catch, received a number of complaints.
I noticed that nobody who'd complained about the show had themselves been offended by it; they'd merely assumed that great swathes of other people would be. My accuser-in-chief claimed that "many, many people find this show offensive", but even this seemingly baseless assertion was topped by another listener who declared that Safety Catch was "offensive to African nationals". What, all of them? Have you checked?


  1. Anonymous3:31 pm

    It's interesting that initially there were very few complaints - all the hoo-ha seems to have started when the world and his wife jumped onto the moral band wagon. If only we, the public, cared as much about being stitched up by the banks and the government to complain on mass about that. More people voted for big brother and strictly comes dancing than bothered to vote in the general election. The out cry about Russel Brand and Jonathon Ross is a side effect of our facination with celebrity, and the general belief that they should some how be Greater than the rest of us.

  2. Anonymous11:07 am

    The tabloids, as ever, have been predictably hypocritical in their reporting of this story. One paper I saw was rejoicing in the fact that Ross had been taught a lesson that had been long overdue. If this was the case then why did they wait until the bandwagon was rolling before taking aim at him? As for Russell Brand, by far the most offensive thing about him is that he simply isn't that funny and, therefore, has to resort to such childish humour in search of laughs.

  3. Anonymous12:09 pm

    This isn't about being offended. Being offended once in a while is the price we pay for allowing people to say what they like, even if we don't always like what they say.

    But leaving an obscene and sexist message on someone's home answering machine is harassment. If someone did it to you, would you laugh? Or report the matter to the police?

  4. Anonymous3:48 pm

    Is Jonathan Roos a great actor, singer, dancer, writer, or even a magician? So what does he actually do to earn his six million?
    He does pub banter, which is something I hear - just as good sometimes - in my local
    Don't get me wrong. I actually like him and always listen to his Saturday show on Radio 2. But just think how many half hour dramas or sitcoms six million would buy, employing a whole lot of talent.


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