Stand Up Comedy – Critics are Cu*ts

By Bryan McManus

Comedy is subjective? I suppose that’s kinda true but it’s just a schmucky way of saying if it makes you laugh it’s funny ergo it’s comedy, that’s not subjective that’s FACT!

It’s easy to criticise comics that are considered main stream, the ones on the telly, the ones hosting game shows or the ones participating in panel shows.  They don’t deserve criticism, they don’t deserve their integrity to be called into question for “selling out their art”, critics should remember that they only maintain their integrity not because they sit and tut at what others do but because no one has offered them bucket loads of money to sell their soul.  Those who can’t do teach, and those who can’t teach, criticise!

We are blessed with so many brilliant stand up comics from our wee country here in Scotland, Gary Little, Raymond Mearns, Mark Nelson, John Gavin, Scott Agnew to name a few,  comics who do the club circuit, slog their guts out night after night while making audiences guts hurt from laughter.  Guys (and some gals, calm down Mrs Godley) who are gifted in being naturally funny, find it easy to engage with a crowd and who effortlessly
build a rapport with their audience.

We might not all agree with their subject matter, we might not even laugh at all their jokes but we should all appreciate that they are good at what they do.  These are the people who deserve to “make it big”, and it does happen, look at Kevin Bridges, John
Bishop, Stewart Francis, they got a break and they took it, and they were offered the break because they are good at what they do, all 3 of them were funny then and all 3 of them, except John Bishop, are still funny now even though they are “mainstream”.

I am, as we all should be, willing to listen to anyone who is prepared to put themselves out there, stand in front of an audience and bare their soul.  That is brave beyond comprehension, no matter how confident someone is, standing in front of a crowd trying to make them laugh is the hardest thing anyone can ever do (midwifes, heart surgeons and plumbers please don’t take that literally).  Some try and fail, some try and succeed, some try, bottle it wet themselves and run off but the bottom line is they tried and that’s what counts and if you aren’t prepared to put yourself in their shoes, even once, then don’t criticise, appreciate.

Is comedy art? Is an unmade bed art? Is Lionel Messi waltzing past 4 players and scoring art? Who knows? Art cannot be defined, art is perception and we all have a different perception of the world in front of us.  Do you like the Mona Lisa because you think it is a magnificent depiction of the female form? Do you like the Mona Lisa because it’s supposedly a magnificent depiction of the female form and people have told you you should like it? Or do you think the Mona Lisa is a painting of what appears to be a dour faced cow and you painted better in first year art class? Regardless of what you think of the Mona Lisa as long as it’s your own thoughts based on what you perceive then that’s ok.

The problem we have with comedy is there are so many people who want to tell us what we should like, not necessarily because they think its funny but because it ticks boxes for the TV channels and commissioners, how else do you explain Jack Whitehall, Andi Osho, Gina Yashere and Channel 4’s recent offering “I’m Spazticus” ? Take the Jack Whitehall written Bad Education, please take it and burn it! The first episode opened with a scene of a teacher, in class, suffering from a hangover, well done Jack where did you get your inspiration? Page 2 of ‘sitcoms for dummies’?

You like Bill Hicks? “Yeah I bought 3 DVDs and a T-shirt from Amazon, I’m cool, fuck the man!NO! FUCK YOU! You sycophantic sheep! You hear something that others like and think yeah I’m jumping on that bandwagon waving my arms and shouting “look at me, I’m in with the in crowd”.  Get up off your arse and go out and find what you like, go see live comedy instead of trawling through internet forums and cheap DVD’s, “oh he’s an angry American comedian that says stuff about politics, its way over my head but that just means its good” no it doesn’t, it means you don’t have a mind of your own.

Music is much like comedy, The cheeky song, the Macarena, Whigfield’s Saturday Night, all massive chart hits of course, they may be god awful songs to anyone with a hint of musical taste but someone must like them. These are songs that have made people dance at parties, I’ve seen it and do I judge? Well yes but that’s beside the point as I’m very judgemental, right now I’m judging you for reading this! These songs may not be great in my ears but to others they are the highlight of a night out.  In my eyes Banksy is a vandal with a spray can and some stencils, to others he is a political commentator! I think Vivienne Westwood clothes make people look like extra’s from a bad Tim Burton movie but clearly others enjoy wearing clothes who’s designs have been authorised by the P.A of the assistant to a designer who works for a company that’s owned by someone who used to embrace the punk movement.

If anyone has the balls to use their skill and imagination to create an experience to share with others then encourage them, give them a platform and let them either blow your mind or stumble and fall.  Then decide whether you want to see them do it again.

Don’t be scared to admit what you like who gives a fuck if anyone else feels the same.  Get up, go out and find what you like, it might take a while but you’ll have a hell of a time exploring what’s out there. Do what you want and do what you like whether it’s mainstream or no stream jump in and have a splash.

So put some Nicki Minaj on your non Apple branded MP3 player, stick your chest out in your t-shirt from Next, finish your pint in Wetherspoons and go home and watch Notting Hill on VHS tape and never, ever judge anyone for doing what they do, that’s my job!

Are these art? Are they funny? I think so but I’ll let you make your own mind up.

You can follow Bryan on Twitter @BryanMcManus as he discusses Football, Malaysian politics and the best way to annoy a dog.


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