Not So Alternative Comedy

In a Guardian comment thread that was actually far more entertaining than the nasty mean-spirited blog post it was attached to, somebody linked to this joke from Alexei Sayle:

I was at a Motorhead gig when after an 8 hour number entitled ‘I’ve got a dick the size of a Ford Cortina, someone called out “sexist shite” and they thought it was request …

If you laughed at that, it’s very likely that you know little or nothing about Mötorhead or their music.

Alexei Sayle could be a very entertaining comic actor, but I never rated his act as a stand-up comic in the early days of his career. He presented himself as an “alternative comedian”, eschewing the sexism and racism that was a staple of so much second-rate comedy of the 70s.

But his act was actually nowhere near as radical or as funny as he liked to think it was, and tended to be laced with a lot of smug self-rightousness. The example above showed, just like the racist Bernard Manning, he was willing to get cheap laughs by punching at his audiences’ designated out-groups without needing to put in any effort to be genuinely funny.

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5 Responses to Not So Alternative Comedy

  1. The ultimate irony of that non-joke is that I can’t remember a single Motorhead song where Lemmy actually did brag about his sexual prowess. Gambling, sure, but …

  2. Tim Hall says:

    That’s precisely the point.

    If the joke had been about Whitesnake it might actually have been funny, because it wouldn’t have been based on a lazy and innacurate stereotype.

  3. Right, because god knows Motorhead and Whitesnake are entirely indistinguishable!

    … it’s scary that even my in-laws know the difference between them.

  4. Jonathan Hill says:

    The ‘Smell The Glove’ scene from Spinal Tap nails the satire of sexism and political correctness in rock better than anything else ever done. “If she was making YOU smell the glove, then that would have been different.”

    And, of course, the immortal, “There’s a fine line between clever and stupid”

  5. Tim Hall says:

    Indeed. What made The Is Spinal Tap so funny was how well-observed the whole thing was. Almost everything that happened in that film was based on real indicents with real bands. Including the infamous Stonehenge scene.

    The “Smell The Glove” bit comes over as a mixture of The Scorpions’ “Animal Maghetism” and Whitesnake’s “Reay and Wiling”, for which the original artwork was rejected very late in the day.