Saturday, December 03, 2011

There is nothing "Lefty" about Jimmy Carr

Discussing the furore over Jeremy Clarkson's appearance on The One Show, Damian Thompson complains of double standards. Jimmy Carr makes offensive jokes about people with Down's syndrome:
What is it about Down’s syndrome that tickles the funny bone of Lefty comics?
But is Carr at all left wing? Left-wing politics is based in a belief that things could be better. Carr's schtick, by contrast, is to imply that he is wiser than us. Life is shit, and he has seen through it.

I don't see much hope there.

But then a lot of comedy is like that now. Thompson names Ricky Gervais as another "Lefty", but it is hard to see why. Though The Office offered occasional glimpses of hope, his trademark is that his shows have pauses so you can cringe, not so you can laugh.

You can say that all situation comedy relies upon the characters being trapped - Harold Steptoe was never going to escape his father - but this failure of any sense of the possibility of a better world does seems particularly characteristic of modern comedy.

Future generations will watch Outnumbered as a key text on the uselessness of early 21st century parenting. And even a likeable show like Rev ultimately leaves us thinking how hard it is to be good in the modern world. It all seems very conservative.


Z said...

Carr counts as a lefty for his involvement in 10 O'Clock Live, surely?

Jonathan Calder said...

I saw very little of that show.

I would not be surprised to hear Carr express standard Showbiz Left views.

My point is more that the assumptions underlying his comedy are conservative.

Andrew Hickey said...

I'd agree. And notably, the comedians who *do* have some kind of leftish political stance in their work, from say Jeremy Hardy or Mark Steel on the hard socialist side to Stewart Lee or Richard Herring on the fluffy Guardianista one, all seem to (rightly) regard the kind of thing Thompson is talking about as at best misguided.