A little Moir understanding....

Garry Lee is fed up of tabloid comedy 'scandal'

Columnist Jan Moir yesterday used the pages of the Daily Mail to launch what is little short of character assassination of Jimmy Carr.

It’s another ignorant, sensationalist article so common in the tabloid press that takes routines and jokes out of context to heap criticism on comedians. Either deliberately or otherwise, she misunderstands the nature of comedy for cheap sensationalism and personal gain.

Moir challenges Carr for failing to pardon himself for the joke: ‘Why are they called Sunshine variety coaches when all the kids look the same?’

The reason Carr has not bothered to apologise is surely that it is a joke about language, and the content of the actual joke is meaningless. It's a play on the word ‘variety’.

Carr has defended his work along these lines before. Commenting on another seemingly offensive gag on Paul Provenza's American TV show The Green Room, he said: ‘But it's about the turn on the language, it's not really about anything...there is no sense in which I'm going, “I'm going to say that because people will think differently.”'

Remember, Carr presented a radio series of comedy masterclasses and wrote a book on the art and construction of jokes. He has no malicious intent. He only has an interest in telling jokes. Any quick online search will reveal his true nature, supporting the likes of Comic Relief and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

Moir goes on to criticise comedians for not having jokes in their acts about Muslims or Jews. But how many people in Britain are so knowledgeable about those subjects that any punchline would land with maximum effect?

Jewish gags go down well in the States because of the audience's exposure to Jewish culture. Christianity is a more obvious target in Britain, but only because it is ubiquitous. Comedians need to explore or use topics that their audience has some idea about to get laughs. This seems quite obvious, but even this limited level of understanding of the construction of jokes seems to be absent.

We should all challenge and condemn the ignorance of tabloid journalists who spout damaging opinions on the subject of comedy through the platforms available to us.

While Jan Moir is paid to voice her thoughts, her damaging opinions contained in this article are not valid ones; they are simply based around her own lack of understanding – or wilful misrepresentation – of comedy.

Published: 26 Nov 2011

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