Who cares what's cool? It's funny that counts

'My haircut does me no favours at Jongleurs' says Matt Richardson

I have never written a Correspondence piece for Chortle before. In the last three years I have probably read every one of them – like most other comics checking this website is a daily routine in between BBC News, Facebook and Twitter - but I have never wanted to write one.

That changed when I read David Bailey’s piece ‘Cool comedians leave me cold’ yesterday

‘Cool’ comedians don’t leave me cold. Bad comedians leave me cold. As interesting as I think ‘the Russell Brand effect’ is – this self-proclaimed Fist of Fun fan has failed to acknowledge the ‘Stewart Lee effect’ that is more rife on the circuit than anything else.

Identikit stand-up is not based on how many pairs of skinny jeans a comic owns. The new act circuit is full of comedians who do not deliver and who are self-consciously uncool. They go out night after night and deliver jokes that no one laughs at and repeat them because their hero does this. They berate Michael McIntyre; they berate Russell Howard - because Messiah Lee has done the same thing.

However, what they don’t have is talent. That is more important that how cool a comedian is. I am just as sick of awful comedians in skinny jeans as I am with comedians in niche geek T-shirts being rubbish.

I do get lumped in with the cool crowd (as least I think I do) regardless of me being cool. I am white, male, in my 20s and I have nice skin.

This therefore means I am always vulnerable to snide comments about my eligibility for T4 and BBC Three. It’s frustrating as I didn’t choose to be any of these things – I chose to be a comedian. So the fact one man decides that automatically denies me the one job I’ve ever wanted – since the age of 13 – is utter rubbish.

I am a professional comic; I gig at major clubs every night of the week. I would like to think that promoters and bookers are choosing to have me based on the strength of my jokes and not on the clothes I wear or how I do my hair. My haircut does me no favours at Jongleurs or Up The Creek.

What we see on television is what producers think the public want – so if you watch T4 or BBC Three of course you are going to see a young comic in a nice T-shirt telling jokes that their audiences want to hear. It fits the demographic. Complaining about this is like complaining that Radio 4 has too much Sandi Toksvig on it.

Comedy is diverse and anyone can do it – as long as you are GOOD. How cool you are is irrelevant, some of my favourite comics are the coolest people I know and some of my least favourite are life’s losers – who you would assume are the natural comics. However, how talented you are doesn’t correlate to your bone structure or where you like to shop. Make them laugh.

I imagine if David Bailey watched my set he would write me off as another young, cool comic ruining the circuit. However, I’d ask him to look at himself and question what he has to offer and why it is any more important that what I can.

I love comedy, too. I really, really do and how tight someone’s jeans are shouldn’t affect that.

Published: 20 Nov 2012

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