Just back from Aberdare in South Wales. (Note to Kathryn: places whose names begin ‘Aber’ are nearly always in Wales. This will allow you to blag your way through geographical conversations. There are of course exceptions, like Aberdeen in Scotland, and Abba, who were from Sweden and weren’t even really a town at all.) Tonight’s show demonstrated the limitations of the Request Stops idea because, although someone in Aberdare must have wanted me to show up, most of the rest of the town felt differently. On the other hand, the next few shows – Basingstoke, Northampton, Aldershot, Winchester – have all sold healthily, so, y’know, it’s all about the area, isn’t it? And South Wales has generally been good to me, but Alan Carr and Sarah Millican were in nearby Cardiff tonight and it’s not easy to compete with People Off The Proper Television. Overall, no complaints.
The Gervais thing seems to have simmered down by now. I’m glad I didn’t write a blog about it, because some of the remarks directed at Richard Herring for his (well-reasoned) points of view almost gave me Frankie flashbacks. I shouldn’t think Richard would care about insults from people who’ve little idea who he is, but I know from experience that I would. I’ll just quickly note that although language does evolve constantly – as I’m fond of arguing myself – comedy at the moment is in danger of cementing more harmful and old-fashioned stereotypes than it erodes, and certain comics seem to think there’s absolutely no problem with that, even as they adopt apparently right-on stances on other issues. If you think there’s any chance a word you’re using might cause misery to the vulnerable, it seems a bit rash to tweet it casually as you’re sitting in your millionaire pad. It’s all very well saying ‘gay’ doesn’t mean ‘happy’ any more, because users’ consensus has modified its meaning over 50 years. But one of the ways in which it’s been modified is that millions of schoolkids now use ‘gay’ to mean ‘bad’, e.g. ‘it’s really gay we have Physics on a Monday’. In fact plenty of much older people do that as well, and the net result is a continuation of negative associations with homosexuality. No one actually thinks you’re saying that Physics is a homosexual subject, but the sense of insult endures all the same. The moral of the story: you can let words go in any direction you like, but you’re still in charge of them, and they always have the potential to do harm. Using a word which you know to be politically or socially volatile, and then saying ‘pff, it’s just a word, cool down guys’ is a bit like letting off fireworks in the high street and going ‘hey, it’s just explosives, it’s not my fault if someone gets in the way’.
But luckily I’m not blogging on this subject because if you speak up too much, you get hate-tweets, and then you get called a cunt and end up in the Independent. Phew. Close call there.
This blog will self-destruct tomorrow morning, just in case.