Wednesday, 26 May 2010

how to be a writer - part 3


Writing is an anguished, solitary trade. Unless you do it with other people, which can be even worse. There is no lonelier place than the writers' room of a top sitcom when you're about to be fired. You'll know it's going to happen because all the other writers start laughing at your jokes. These are the dark times for the writer. This is the place of pain. These are the mean streets down which you must lurch, nursing the black eye you got at the last place you were thrown out of. But do you despair? Yes! Plunge to the depths of misery, and make that dark, demonic pit the crucible in which to forge a new soul! (I'm on a roll here. That was good coffee.) Arise from the ashes of your agony, reborn, renewed, revitalised, and follow the path of wisdom and self-knowledge that was forged by the Masters of old: fierce, bearded types, many of them professional hermits who rejected all human society save for weekly meetings of the local Hermits' Club. But know that the path is steep. The road is hard. The buses are infrequent. For this is.... THE WAY OF THE LONER.

You are not lonely
Just because you spend all your time alone, that doesn’t make you lonely. It makes you a loner. Big difference. You are the Cat who Walks by Itself. And walking by yourself, incidentally, is a simple, inexpensive way to stay healthy. You’ll find yourself thanking the bailiff who re-possessed your car. Not to his face, but silently, to yourself. This is the Way of the Loner.

You are your own best friend
When you first set out on the Path of Dynamic Solitude, the idea of having a pet to keep you company may seem attractive. But scientists now speculate that dogs, cats and other pets may have the same needs, delusions and neuroses as the person you’ve just finished a relationship with. Why not grow a moustache for company? Women, don't be left out. Facial hair is cheap to maintain, and easier to get rid of than a pet. Society looks more favourably on someone who shaves off their beard than someone who leaves their cat in a cinema many miles from its home.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Sniff the Corpse of Bernard Manning pt3

Anyone here been raped and do standup?

I once heard a comedienne say in an interview that you can only make jokes about rape if you're a woman who's been raped. I gamely tried to think of a few gags on the subject but I couldn't come up with any. However, if a woman who's been raped has found a way to make the experience funny I find that admirable and I don't think anyone should try to stop her. But I don't think they should try to stop me, either. As it happens I don't want to make jokes about women and rape but I don't want to be told I can't, either. I can understand why some people might be offended if I did, and I'd be wary of doing the routine at hen parties, but I don't think anything should be taboo for a writer or performer just because they haven't experienced it. Shakespeare wrote about rape, torture, and people accidentally eating their own children, which he presumably hadn't experienced. Those topics tended to crop up in his tragedies, admittedly, but murder and mayhem have never been off-limits in comedy. So why can't I tell jokes about women being raped?

There doesn't seem to be a problem with jokes about men who've been raped. It's taken for granted that a comedy which even mentions men in prison will include jokes  about proctology and not bending over in the shower. But a man who's raped is no less damaged by it than a woman. Why is one experience a legitimate subject for comic treatment while the other isn't? This is part of an argument about 'offensive' comedy which, in turn, is part of a much larger battle about free speech, censorship, and human rights. Offensive comedy is beginning to look like the front line in a cultural civil war.