Wednesday 3rd of June 2020

political correctitude (correctness) is not a laughing matter...

timberThe classic British comedy series ‘Monty Python’ is 50 years old this month, but the sobering fact is that it, along with other shows of the era, would not be made today due to politically correct policing.

The Spanish Inquisition was a series of sketches in a 1970 episode of ‘Monty Python.’ Whenever a character said “I didn’t expect a Spanish Inquisition,” the Spanish Inquisition would turn up with the words “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.” The thing is today, all comedy writers do expect the PC Police Inquisition, so they self-censor. Which is why modern comedy is nowhere near as inventive, or funny, as it was 50 years ago.

There are so many things modern comedy writers can’t say, for fear of being branded ‘racist/anti-Semitic/sexist/homophobic/genderist/misogynistic – or a combination of the aforementioned. Even the mildest joke could get you into serious trouble. And that’s a big problem. As Python John Cleese has said: “All humor is critical. If you start to say ‘We mustn’t; we mustn’t criticize or offend them,’ then humor is gone.”

The Pythons didn't so much think outside of the box, for them – to quote the zany comedy character Professor Bob Kazinski – there was no box. In his book ‘Very Naughty Boys,’ Robert Sellers notes that Python Graham Chapman was known for his ‘eccentric’ behavior. “Once, when presented with a show-business award at some swish function by Lord Mountbatten, Chapman crawled to the stage on all-fours, clasped the prize between his teeth, squawked, and then returned to his table.” Alas, they don’t make them like Chapman any more. 

John Cleese quite rightly bemoans the BBC’s failure to repeat ‘Monty Python’ episodes, but it’s not the only comedy to fall foul of humorless, virtue-signaling, ‘illiberal liberal’ censors.

My late friend Jimmy Perry, the creator of the classic ‘Dad’s Army’ (which is still shown), also co-wrote another WWII army-based sitcom called ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum,’ which like ‘Dad’s Army’ was hugely popular in the 1970s, and which I wrote about here

But this show – which Perry thought was even funnier than ‘Dad’s Army,’ is never repeated on the BBC, due to the PC Police. It’s claimed, by those who probably have never watched a full episode, that the show promotes racism and homophobia. In fact, it lampoons racism and homophobia. The attitudes of the fearsome Sergeant Major character played so memorably by Windsor Davies, are those which a British Army sergeant major would have held in the 1940s. But it seems the past has to be rewritten if it doesn‘t match modern sensibilities. If ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’ were remade in 2019, the Sergeant Major would be transformed into a ‘right-on’ virtue-signaler deeply concerned about gender-neutral signage and other ‘worthy causes,’ and it wouldn’t be at all funny because the humor comes from the friction between the reactionary, very bigoted character and the artistically minded concert-party soldiers he shouts at every day.

Jimmy Perry said to me – quoting advice given to him by the playwright George Bernard Shaw – that the basis of good comedy was truth, but you can’t have truthful portrayal of characters from the past today. Everything has to be sanitized and given a modern PC makeover. 

Look at the way ‘The Germans,’ an episode of Fawlty Towers (a series co-written by the Python John Cleese) has been censored to remove certain comments from the Major.

The Major’s comments were very objectionable, but the point is, they were the sort of thing someone like a major living in a hotel in Torquay, battling with senility, would have come out with in the mid-1970s. As Mark Lawson succinctly put it in a Guardian column “Major Gowan is racist; Fawlty Towers isn’t.”

If the Major was made over to be ‘new-age’ and an anti-racist campaigner, it just wouldn’t ring true and wouldn’t be funny.  

Popular comedies of the 1970s actually did more to help challenge and change racist and homophobic attitudes than those who condemned them. Consider ‘Rising Damp,’ where Philip, the African character, is the cleverest person in the boarding house, and continually gets the better of the landlord Rigsby, and ‘Are You Being Served?’ in which the gay sales assistant Mr Humphries became one of the most popular characters in TV history. But would ‘Rising Damp’ or ‘Are You Being Served?’ be made today? I very much doubt it. Comedy writers wouldn’t take the risk. Don’t forget just one complaint to Ofcom can trigger an investigation. Repeat after Me: ‘NOBODY expects the PC Police Inquisition!


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afraid of the dark side of the moon...



meanwhile, some of the gags are old...

If I was going to be a contestant on Hard Quiz (ABC TV), my special subject would be “Dad’s Army”. My general knowledge is crap, but it can be rescued by referring to original sources for specificity. Dad’s Army? Yes I know the characters very well, from Jones the Butcher to Fraser the coffin-maker for having watched most episodes more than 10 times over. 


If Hitler were alive today, would he become a standup comic? Incredible though that may sound to anyone who lived through the second world war, that is the scenario sketched out in Look Who's Back, a satirical novel by Timur Vermes, which topped the bestseller lists in Germany after its publication in 2012 and is now about to be published in English.

In the opening pages, Hitler wakes up on a building site in Berlin in 2011. His memory of how he got there is hazy: "I think Eva and I chatted for a while, and I showed her my old pistol, but when I awoke I was unable to recall any further detail."

The owner of a nearby kiosk recognises him – after all, 66 years after his death the man's face is still ubiquitous – and, assuming that Hitler is an extra from a new second world war film who is remaining resolutely in character ("Bruno Ganz was superb, but he's not a patch on you"), the kiosk owner hooks him up with a local comedy promoter.

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  • By Kristina Moorehead
30 August 2019

It’s a late night in London in 1940, and Austrian exile Robert Lucas is writing at his desk. Bombs are raining down on the city every night, Hitler’s army is winning throughout Europe and the invasion of England has become a genuine prospect. In spite of the air-raid sirens and, as he put it “the hell’s noise of the war machinery" going off all around him, Lucas is focused on the job at hand: to “fight for the souls of the Germans”. He is composing a radio broadcast aimed at citizens of the Third Reich. But this is not a passionate plea for them to come to their senses. This is an attempt to make them laugh.

The Nazis could not stop foreign radio waves crossing into Germany but they could make listening to enemy stations a crime. They did so as soon as war broke out. Those caught were jailed; the sentence for spreading news from enemy broadcasts was the death penalty. Germans brave enough to disregard the law had to beware of eavesdroppers and ill-meaning neighbours, and so would listen under blankets as if curing themselves of a heavy cold over a bowl of steaming water.

But why would you choose to broadcast satire under these circumstances? Cracking jokes to sustain morale on Britain’s home front might be a successful strategy – implemented particularly well in the BBC’s wartime satire It’s That Man Again (better known as ITMA). But for enemy propaganda? And in any case, who would risk their life listening to it?

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See also:
"it is I, leclerc!"... "man of a thousand faces, every one the same!"...



And if you remember some of the stunts in The Mask with Jim Carey, and be a Popeye fan, you would see the similarities. And then there was this character used to encourage "re-enlisting" of privates. Isn't this guy Jim Carey?:




correctitude strikes again...

US comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live has dropped a new cast member after videos surfaced online of him making slurs about Chinese people.

Shane Gillis, 31, came under fire soon after his casting was announced when footage resurfaced from a podcast featuring the comic.

"After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL," said a SNL spokesman.

Mr Gillis wrote on Twitter that he respected the show's decision. 

"Of course I wanted an opportunity to prove myself at SNL, but I understand it would be too much of a distraction," he said, just a week after it was announced he would join the NBC show.


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incorrectness on many levels...

The cartoon below from a Canadian magazine c 1960s:




From Gus's collection of stuff... Read from top.

pathetic joke...

England has been fined for its response to the haka before last Saturday's Rugby World Cup semi-final victory over New Zealand in Yokohama.

Key points:
  • England was handed an undisclosed fine for advancing "beyond the halfway line" when the All Blacks performed the haka
  • World Rugby dished out the punishment despite its social media channels excitedly promoting England's response
  • English media figures have labelled the decision "pathetic" and described World Rugby as a "joke"


The England squad fanned out across the pitch in a V-formation as the All Blacks delivered their traditional challenge, with several English players who crossed the halfway line standing their ground when match officials tried to usher them back.

World Rugby regulations stipulate opponents must not cross the halfway line while the haka is being performed. It did not disclose the size of the fine, which is to be donated to charity.

"England have been fined for a breach of World Cup tournament rules relating to cultural challenges, which states that no players from the team receiving the challenge may advance beyond the halfway line," World Rugby said in a statement.


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