What's acceptable?

Comic Alfie Moore on comedy's bad-taste goalposts

The subject of race and religion is never far away in the modern comedy arena, which got me thinking where the goalposts are sited in respect of all things ‘sensitive’.

I know that material floats in and out of favour dependant on social sensitivity, news events, legislation, cultural barometer, who we're at war (or playing football) against and what Kim Kardashian says, but generally the circuit has established some accepted boundaries.

Jews are left pretty much alone (unless you're Jewish) and although fundamentalists were carrying backpacks in set-ups a couple of years ago, it's now fairly quiet on the Islam front.

Catholics were all the rage in Dave Allen’s day, seemed to be ignored for a while but after a few outrageous spoutings by His Holiness and some of his underlings, they are seemingly game on again. Jehovah’s Witnesses, although not overly titillating to educated comedy pallets, continue to be a mainstay of the basic humour diet.

Gay, disabled and mental health topics are best discussed sensitively.

Gingers and chavs are very last season. Bankers are still very much in, as are politicians (all parties), footballers, anybody with any money – and BBC executives.

Race wise, Pakistani is a word rarely heard in a comedy club. Jamaican patois is acceptable if you’re black or you're doing an impression of a white teenager. I tried to prove some sort of point or other by doing an impression of Rastamouse, but such was the tension I quit before the point was made, thus failing in my attempt to make a bad ting good.

We are well aware that the Germans need to be kept in their place. They normally reach a comedic peak every two years but Mrs Merkel seems determined not to let this sleeping Alsatian lie.

As for the rest of Europe, we have developed some sympathy for Greece, are bored with the Polish builders, and the rest are there if we need them, safe in the knowledge that it can’t be racist because they are white.

The Yanks have had enough air time for one year and Nelson Mandela was a hell of a lot funnier when he was banged up.

I am pleased to report that the Irish are now of average intelligence and the Welsh rarely look at a sheep flirtatiously. Whereas the Scots continue to drink excessively, take drugs, eat fried shite and are still a bit stabby.

Rape is out but paedophilia is bubbling and could go either way. Wanking is very much a young man's game which seemingly refuses to die and all too often is still disturbed by silent ninja stepping mothers.

Of course if you are a compere at an inner city weekend club you can probably ignore all of the above except of course the word 'Pakistani' as there is only a very slim chance that somebody would be sober enough to be offended.

Published: 12 Nov 2012

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