Friday, 24 February 2012

Jackie Mason - Farewell or Good Riddance?

Jackie Mason is a comedy legend, he's doing his farewell UK shows, so you have to see him now if you're going to see him at all. So goes the logic which lead me to see Mason's Fearless show on 14 February.

Logic can be misleading, and far from a great night's comedy this was an uncomfortable evening that left me wondering what it says about UK audiences and reviewers that Mason has been able to achieve legendary status.

Don't get me wrong there was some good material and at times it was very funny, but at other times it was just plainly zenophobic, ill-considered and offensive. If an unknown UK young comedian did some of Mason's routine on a comedy club stage he would rightly be slaughtered for this, but make it a harmless old Jewish American and suddenly it's meant to be acceptable.

I'm not talking about the Jews and gentiles routines, which Mason has every right to perform, and delivers like a man whose been telling these jokes for half a century (because he has), I'm talking about some of the other material where ignorance and prejudice flow forward, and an audience who should know better laugh like BNP members at a Bernard Manning concert, suddenly relieved that they can reveal themselves as the bigots they are.

The lowlight of the first half was an extended vocal parody of Indian doctors, following on from the barely disguised racism lying behind a 'joke' that the doctors were also the taxi drivers taking him to the hospital. This was only the warm up, as the second half saw the parentage and colour of Barack Obama called into question; Greeks incorrectly stereotyped to a level that makes Jeremy Clarkson's comments about Mexicans sound like the work of an astute social commentator, because they dared to strike and  in the process wiped billions off shares owned by good hard working Republican voting Americans; and all Syrians being decried as murdering bastards whom we should not allow in to the Olympics.

Mason's bizarre views that it was almost heresy that John McCain was not automatically made president, and that  Obama or Hilary Clinton even thought they had a right to stand against him, tells you all you need to know about his politics. He is a staunch Republican. Put that togther with almost half of his material and you have all you need to know to say why a Republican presidency is a prospect the rest of the world (and the rest of the States) should worry about. Comedians can and should be political, but when you highlight the unpleasant underpinnings of your party's politics then you don't do you or them any favours. 

Of course, Mason gets excused as an old guy from a different time and a different country - there may be some truth in that, but frankly age should not be an excuse for pedalling the type of material that should have been consigned to history years ago.

I emerged at the end feeling uncomfortable at laughing at anything that was funny because of what the rest of the show said about the man making me laugh. I seemed to be largely alone in this reaction, and this is what was really worrying. A London audience living in a multi-cultural society, should not be vigorously cheering and applauding homophobic and zenophobic humour, but they did. Mason has an excuse, the audience don't.

The same go for reviewers who excuse all the offensive material and clamour to praise him. Like The Aristocrats movie were a whole lot of comedians told a lousy joke and everyone proclaimed it the best joke ever, because they didn't want to be the odd one, there is self denial at play. There is also double standards. See past the man, and see into the material. Some of it is funny, but much of it is just offensive, and you let yourself down by excusing it, let alone celebrating it.

Farewell Jackie Mason and good riddance.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Welcome to my world

You have to blog to be seen, and you have to be seen to blog. Is this true? I have absolutely no idea, but having read that blogging is the thing to do, I've set up this site where I will basically write whatever occurs to me and share it with anyone that happens to be passing, which could of course be no-one.

It will have reviews of things I've seen, read or listened to, and have comments on anything else that winds me up enough to make me feel like venting my spleen to a world that may or may not be listening, but in all likelihood probably isn't.

Welcome to my world...