I have given money to Comic Relief in the past. I have given money to Comic Relief this year. The gifts have generally either been as part of a supermarket or retail chain drive – or by buying some Comic Relief socks. I don’t think I have ever donated to someone carrying a bucket with associated tomfoolery. Actually, I have almost certainly put money in a bucket when asked to do so by some woman dressed as a schoolgirl/nurse/policewoman/prisoner of war etc.
But this lust (aggrandising this slightly) based charity both highlights what’s slightly fucked up about society (and me) and illustrates, at least partially, what is wrong with Comic Relief.
I should stop at this stage to say that Comic Relief, in its early days, was a massive thing for your hero. I didn’t get to see much of my early comedy heroes growing up. The mid-1980s was a different landscape for comedy, it was about 20 years before BBC3 would offer a TV series to anyone regardless of ability. I had a couple of series of The Young Ones, The Lenny Henry Show (he was funny once, honest) and Channel 4’s Saturday Night Live and a few other repeats. And Alas Smith & Jones. There wasn’t 19 panel shows a week that’s for darn sure. So Comic Relief was brilliant for me. I got to see the likes of Rick Mayall, Dawn French, Rowan Atkinson be funny. Comedians being funny.
(Oh yes and they were raising money for stuff which, of course, is brilliant.)
But it was all comedians – and Jonathan Ross – being funny. And it seemed to be OK. Now Comic Relief involves people like Gary Lineker, Sue Barker and Ferne Cotton. Reading unfunny adlibs (written by someone else) does not constitute comedy. I am not judgemental about comedians I don’t like being involved, that’s a kind of snobbery. I’m fine with Miranda and Michael McIntyre and all the panel people being involve – even the young ones who are just haircuts with regional accents swearing. It’s that it has become a light entertainment publicity fest that isn’t funny. It’s Children in Need by another name. Newsreaders dancing…Morecambe and Wise have a lot to answer for.
Now we have actors from comedy shows travelling around Britain in cars looking for street names that sound a bit rude, Mark Lawrenson and Alan Shearer acting like THE OPPOSITE of what you’d expect for a short time and people from cookery shows cooking in a red nose (pinny). And certainly not pop bands doing pop songs but with a bit of messing about in the video. It just…just…fuck off.
And going back to my original admission that I’ve given money to scantily clad women carrying buckets for charity. When did women wearing not much clothing equate with funny? I might not like Miranda Hart’s brand of comedy but I’d much rather comedy be seen as a tall middle class woman falling over every three seconds than just any women dressed in short skirts and pigtails. And I really fucking like the way women look in short skirts and pigtails so it’s not about not wanting to see it for that reason. Come on sisters….get in bathfull of beans for crying out loud, don’t objectify yourselves. Right?
I think the main problem for me is that my idea of funny is about something being funny. Not loud or camp or in a geordie accent or about a draw for screwdrivers or having a sound effect or pulling a silly face. But it is for most people – if the successful and popular comedians are evidence – and I guess that’s why Comic Relief repulses me a bit nowadays.
To balance out the negativity of this article I donated £15 to Comic Relief half-way through writing it.