It’s been several years since I watched a Roy Chubby Brown DVD, and, to admit my own prejudices, I was probably never going to be enamoured by a show with such a crass title as Too Fat Too Be Gay.
However I was still shocked at this – but not at how far the notoriously odious Chubby was from the accepted mainstream, but how close the accepted mainstream had come to him.
There are gags here you could easily imagine coming from such shock jock merchants as Frankie Boyle, Jimmy Carr or countless aspiring stand-ups who equate bad taste with funny. The obligatory Gary Glitter gag, quips about astronauts masturbating, tales about shagging inappropriate people, this isn’t an unfamiliar landscape for most modern comics.
Don’t believe me? Well, there’s one gag here, about the victim of a sexual abuse describing her ordeal, that is exactly the same as one on Ricky Gervais’s recent Science tour. The only difference: Chubby’s victim is an adult, Gervais’s is a child. Has the next generation really got the moral high ground here?
It would a terrible for stand-up to be cowed into safe toothlessness by the supposed moral guardians of Express-reading Middle England; but perhaps this – coming after Jimmy Carr and Jim Davidson managed to share the same joke – might prompt comics to be more thoughtful about how gags are aimed.
After all, the Chubby is not the sort of company any liberal, considerate person would want to keep. His views on women as money-grabbers who have ‘smelly fannies’ makes Michael Winner look positively enlightened; while he has that tedious homophobia that assumes every gay man somehow wants a piece of his flabby 64-year-old arse.
If you think that’s bad, he leads his rally – sorry, audience – of overwhelmingly white, working class men in a song telling asylum-seekers to sod off because Britain’s full, accusing them all of milking the benefits system for free houses, cars and NHS treatment.
A golliwog appears on his piano midway through the show, too, but the routine involving this contentious prop has been cut, so you shudder to think what that might have involved, given that his dodgy routine about Chinese people all looking the same – and yes, he does do the accent – survived intact.
Such hideous routines sit alongside the sort of old-fashioned pub gags that require explorers meeting pygmies and talking horses and chickens being great mates. Some of his jokes, in isolation, can be rather good, if in dubious taste and rather sweary – but the distain every open-minded person should feel at the gaudily dressed, mahogany-faced reactionary beneath the flying helmet rather spoils the effect.
Smart, contemporary comics should certainly consider themselves a lot better than this; so why doesn’t their material always reflect that?
Main feature: 64mins
Extras: Chubby Chewing The Fat, an 18-minute interview
Price: £19.99 Click here to buy from Amazon at £12.78.
Here's that asylum seeker song: