I wouldn’t normally cover a story from the comedy industry blog Chortle, as you’ve probably never heard of it. In fact, in my 11 years as a standup comedian, I never found a single normal person who knew what it was. For comedians, however, its typo-ridden, low IQ screeds could make or break a career.
This week, though, it actually published an interesting piece by Samantha Pressdee, a comedian I have not heard of, having mercifully left the cesspit of the comedy world. And Pressdee now appears to be going the same route as me, calling the comedy scene “a community of self-censoring wimps”.
One has to LOL.
Pressdee asks: “Where are the alpha males? Where are the men who unapologetically say what they think? Where are the heroes who take a stand for freedom of expression?”
Of course the answer is they are on Headliners every night at 11pm on GB News. But I take her point.
It seems Pressdee got into comedy, as many of us did, with an image of the comedian as lone truth-teller. Such has seen this tradition exemplified by some of our greatest comics, from Richard Pryor, to Bill Hicks, to the less known but equally great Patrice O’Neal.
In most cases, the ambition is to embody this persona, though in Pressdee’s case it turns out she was simply looking for “a husband (with balls)!”. Fair enough. Either way, that ideal is all but gone.
There are still comics out there who fit the mould, such as Tom Stade, who I opened for on two national tours. But the prevailing mood in the comedy world, and the one that will land you the coveted TV spots, is that of woke groupthink and its attendant culture of fear, back-stabbing, and bullying.
This is so prevalent that Chortle felt compelled to add a hand-wringing addendum to Pressdee’s piece, stating:
We print this personal opinion piece, not because we agree with it… but because we don’t want to feed the nonsense narrative that such views are being ‘silenced’ by rejecting it.
No silencing, then, simply a 200-word footnote condemning the writer and her views. I believe the phrase is ‘stunning and brave’.
Pressdee goes on to point out:
Jerry Sadowitz was cancelled and hardly anyone took a stand. Jokes used to be accepted as jokes. Us clowns are supposed to be the only ones who can make fun of the king. Morality police now dictate what we can and can’t say. The culture of comedy has become so dysfunctional, it’s unbearable. Comedy has been castrated, there is no potency, no joy, no truth, no risk or substance.
Where’s the lie? She continues:
Many comedians are compromising artistic integrity for industry popularity. Impotent men have pandered to warped ‘feminist’ ideals to avoid the fear of being labelled a misogynist. Mollycoddling women have bowed down to the trans lobby pushing the utopian ideal of self ID for fear of being labelled a Terf.
Then the working class, who maybe still have some semblance of vitality, are being pushed out because it’s too expensive to do the Edinburgh Fringe, or they are just not getting past the mostly middle-class moral gatekeepers unless they tow the party line.
Judging by my 11 years in the game, this all checks out.
Inevitably, and with apparently no fear of being seen to prove Pressdee’s entire point, immediately after publishing the piece her show was cancelled.
The Furthest from the Sea festival said of Pressdee’s article “the tone and conflict within which it is written is just not something our organisation would want to be associated with”.
Indeed, it is clear from that statement that good writing is not one of their core values.
They go on to say “we cannot absorb the negative impacts that we will face in the short and long term through continuing with your performance”, which makes them sound like a kind of woke tennis shoe.
And my favourite:
On a personal note I find this kind of inflammatory approach towards this debate achieves nothing but conflict and notoriety, neither of which should be confused with freedom of speech.
Of course, Pressdee’s piece, and the wider concerns she raises in it, are absolutely about freedom of speech. But the pompous yet ignorant tone of those cancelling her is one we have become used to. They are stupid, cowardly, self-aggrandising and censorious, but, in the squalid fiefdom of the comedy world, they are also in charge.