Were these Aussie comedians ever funny?
WARNING: OFFENSIVE CONTENT
OLD straight white men are today up in arms that they can't travel around Australia telling jokes about "poofters" and "Japs".
Oh, you didn't hear the one about the out-of-touch male babbling incoherently about gay sex and muttering "f**k" at various intervals in the hope audiences will just laugh?
A bunch of dated Australian comedians have come out today and lamented the state of the comedy industry, which they say has been hampered by political correctness.
"I can't go on TV anymore as it's so bloody PC ... or do the Sydney Comedy festival. The audience is too mainstream and gets offended," sighed Kevin "Bloody" Wilson.
Ugh, audiences were so much cooler in the '70s and '80s. It was an edgier time where you could smoke indoors while pregnant and make aggressive and derogatory remarks about gays, women and Asians.
"I've never ever been inside a poofs' bar in all my life until I got to London," Wilson said on his 1993 comedy album Let Loose Live In London. "And I couldn't believe it. I walked into this joint and it's just top heavy with these dough eyed, limp-wristed f**king doughnut punchers. I don't trust those b**tards ... I couldn't believe it, in this bar, this place is just top-heavy with all these poofs ... I don't trust them b**tards.
"I dropped me wallet and kicked it all the way out to the carpark. I don't trust them b**tards. I reckon that any bloke that can look at another bloke's arse and crack a fat deserves to be called queer."
Rodney Rude, who has toured since the '70s and been nominated for multiple ARIA Awards for his comedy albums, relied on similar topics as his bread and butter.
"Here I am in a classy karaoke bar in Melbourne ... Who should walk in, Elton John!" he once said in an old routine. "I said, 'Elton John! You bloody old poo poker! What are you doing? Looking for a bloody chocolate doughnut for your coffee, are you?'
He then went on to drop a bunch of "f*cks" while giving a crude, inaccurate and uneducated depiction of gay sex that involved the suggestion one might need to have a "teething ring sowed to your pillow".
Firstly, if anyone believes a teething ring is required to engage in gay sex, I'd be happy to offer some tips and techniques to help enjoy the experience more. Secondly, the issue here isn't one of political correctness.
The problem is that our standard for humour was once so basic that we thought just throwing the word "f**k" around while ranting about gays was hilarious. Scrolling through old recordings of Wilson, Rodney Rude and many of their peers, it becomes clear their depleted mainstream popularity is not so much an issue of political correctness destroying an industry.
It's that their jokes - centred around basic cliches and stereotypes - just aren't funny.
US comedian Sarah Silverman has made millions joking about the touchiest of subjects - from religion and disability to AIDS. But there's a reason she can get away with it.
"I think I've been called edgy - but in all honestly, there is a safety in what I do because I'm always the idiot," she told NPR in 2010. "Unless you're just listening to buzz words and not taking into account the context of the situation, you see I'm always the ignoramus.
"So no matter what I talk about or what tragic event, off-colour, dark scenario is evoked in my material, I'm always the idiot in it."
In the case of Wilson and Rodney Rude, there's no intelligent, broader message they're trying to convey, and they're placing the joke on the minority rather than themselves.
When it comes to their jokes about homosexuality, the motivator is a mildly-aggressive fear of the subject and the belief that gay sex is just a bit icky. There's no layer of irony or surprise.
Other Australian comedians from the '80s and '90s like Judith Lucy and Wendy Harmer - who both continue to have mainstream success - prove comedy takes a little more than baseline thinking.
Political correctness has gone too far and it becomes difficult to joke about many things. With social media and a news cycle that loves villains and a pile-on, it's very easy for things to be taken out of context - to seem more ignorant and offensive rather than humorous.
But the comedians who are lamenting the stifling restrictions of political correctness aren't upset because their art has been repressed.
They're annoyed because their lazy, dated jokes aren't getting laughs anymore. The standard has lifted, and they just can't match it.