Multi award-winning comedian James Meehan wonders where all the working class comedians have gone.
I’m working class and I feel as under represented in my industry as women or people of colour, and I’m a white man so it must be bad.
Born in Wigan, and described as "our first authentic film comedian", George Formby entertained millions of people throughout the 30's, during the second world war, and into the early 50's. He was a JEN-U-WINE superstar. Let's be honest, with songs such as I'm a Froggie, a mad racist ditty (youtube it) aimed at the French he probably wouldn't be as popular today. But the point I’m making is there was a time when people from Mr. Formby’s background could legitimately make a career from making people laugh (and sometimes playing an instrument which all comedians know is cheating).
The Comedians, a programme
which featured such
talents... comedians... white men as Stan
Boardman, Jim Bowen, and Bernard Manning, all of whom have at least been
accused of having out dated views, was on TV until 1993.
The alternative comedy boom of the 80’s had happened by that
point and had given rise to such
talents... comedians... white
men as Ben Elton. The comedy landscape had changed. British comedy had evolved
for the better and cult heroes such as Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson were as
popular as I assume the Rubik’s Cube or hairy genitals were. This appeared to
be a death knell to working class comedians who were at the time nothing more
than a stereotype of outdated and bigoted views. The thing is, that stereotype
has never gone away.
Whether it’s a character comedian putting on a northern accent to convey that they’re stupid, or the assumption that you can only understand “clever” comedy if you’ve been highly educated, “club comedy” being short hand for low brow and with no place in Edinburgh. I’m working class and I feel as under represented in my industry as women or people of colour, and I’m a white man so it must be bad. I’m not saying let’s bring back the days of The Comedians, but how about we at least trust that not all people from under privileged backgrounds are idiots?
James Meehan: Class Act
Venue: Just the Tonic at The Tron (Venue 51)
Dates: 4th to 28th August 2016 (not 15th)
Time: 6.20pm (7.20pm)