Posing the questions which are troubling world leaders, Front Of House asks have comedians gone soft or what?

Words: Jonathan Trew

Time was when you could rely on comedians to be nasty, savage, vindictive and quick on the draw with a withering put down. There were numerous documented cases of peOple at stand-up shows who would rather piss themselves than make a break for the cludgy and risking the wrath of the man with the mic. Normal, timid audience members, who just wanted to be entertained, bless 'em, would sit qurvering in their seats, praying that the big swinging dick on the stage wouldn't sharpen his ego on their weaknesses. Hecklers were either terminally stupid or had balls of steel and a death wish. Comedy was combat.

Over the last couple of years, there seems to have been a disturbing move towards niceness. The comedy circuit has become less of a bear pit and more of a training school for wet nurses. Satire has become replaced by sharing, criticism by caring and good old personal abuse seems to have mutated into empathy. Once the most bitchy bunch of back-stabbing prima donnas in entertainment, it seems that comedians can’t even be bothered fighting among themselves at the moment. Fringe regular Sean Cullen was slaying the

It wasn't so long ago that comedians based entire shows on nothing but hurting people's feelings. Comedy was a cruel theatre and not a therapy session.

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crowds at a theatre in Toronto recently when there was a big commotion during the second half. Cullen couldn’t see what the fuss was all about and, taking to heart the maxim about the show carrying on regardless, he ploughed through to the end. Arrivrng at the theatre the next day, Cullen found a sweet note from none other than Mike Myers, aka Austen Powers, international man of mystery, apologising for his tardy arrival the night before and saying that the show was hilarious. We remember the days when the slightest slight, real or otherwise, would be enough for one luwie to challenge another to a duel to the death, the preferred methods being hair- pulling, scratching and comparing the size of each other's mobile phones.

'Once in a while I go close to the edge but I wouldn't do anything that I thought would hurt anyone's feelrngs,’ emoted comic Ari Barker in a recent interview. It wasn't so long ago that comedians based entire shows on nothing but hurting people's feelings. Comedy was a cruel theatre and not a therapy sessron. Why has it all gone soft?

Jane Mackay, co-promoter at Edinburgh‘s Stand Comedy Club and fearsome compere, argues that the Scottish comedy scene has its own distinct identity and features fewer 'youngish

boys with floppy hair talking about biscuits,"

whimsical puns don’t get much of a look in'. Drawing comparisons with the raw grit lit of James Kelman and Irvine Welsh, Mackay points out that in some of the London comedy clubs swearing IS

Some old school comedians on a night out. Before they went soft

frowned upon whereas on the Scottish comedy scene it's almost a necessity. Perhaps more importantly, turning the air blue enough to make a sailor asphyxiate does little for a comic’s chances of getting his or her own TV show. As comedy becomes more mainstream it has had to bland out.

Front Of House says stop this niceness now. We want things to go back the way they were, when comedians were bastards and audiences were scared. Just to get a taste of the real McCoy, we phoned comedian Jerry Sadowrtz, secure in the knowledge that he would provide a bitter, poisonous and twrsted tirade on his limp-dicked colleagues. Very politely, Sadowrtz declined to be interviewed. He was too busy working on his TV show.

whole chicken.

Stephen Frost was standing

King Of Scotland’s brother

Stephen Frost. Not one to


Sick American artist Richard Prince has a show at Stills Gallery on Cockburn Street. According to his press people, Prince is a postmodernist who 'incorporates found images (photographs, cartoons) and appropriated texts (jokes) into large two-dimensional works which present a sardonic take on America's recent past’. Here at Front Of House, we must confess to an appalling lack of knowledge when it comes to modern art. However, we know what we like and we like what we know. So at the risk of missing the point, here are some of the gags from Prince's exhibition. What's the difference between kinky and erotic? With kinky you use the

30 THE usr 13—20 Aug 1998

It gets worse.

A guy goes to the doctor and says 'Doc, I got this terrible case of discoloured penis.‘ Sure enough, the guy shows the Doc a bright, blazing orange penis. The Doc had never seen anything like it and starts asking about the guy's daily routine . . . any prescription medicine, did he have more intercourse than average, did he play any unusual athletics? 'Nope,’ says the guy. ‘About the only thing I do anymore is lay around eating Cheetos and watch the Playboy channel.‘

Remember, for art and culture you have to read Front Of House.


Word reaches us of a rather foolish case of mistaken identity at The List party. Master of improvisation

witha beer minding his own business when two fellows approached him and asked if he was Sean Connery's brother. Now, the would-be

does indeed live in Edinburgh and while he looks remarkably similar to his more famous sibling he bears little resemblance to

miss an opportunity for mischief however, Mr Frost put his impro skills into use

Continued on page 32

Stephen Frost and Sean Connery: not similar at all really