It’s very disappointing when you discover someone is bigoted especially when they have talent, from Axl Rose to Canibus it feels all the more dismaying because these people are good at what they do. This is exactly what happened with Andrew Lawrence, a stand-up comedian who during the early noughties was very entertaining and unique. I recall him talking in a growly, constrained manner, not stopping for air, his crazy eyes and wiry red hair adding to his sometimes dark yet zany content.
Then suddenly some time during the late noughties I saw him sporting short back and sides and appearing on mainstream television, his content felt watered-down, it wasn’t as surreal or alternative any more. I just thought he’d sold out for fame so I stopped watching and forgot about him. Little did I know that just after this mediocre makeover, Andrew Lawrence would become famous or should I say infamous for a Facebook post, a post that wasn’t funny but was instead serious, it spoke about his dislike for liberal comedians but it also contained some obvious bigotry…
His comment minus the prejudice made a fair point; Mock The Week is lame, most BBC and terrestrial TV panel shows are filled with mediocre comedians but to blame minorities makes me wonder whether this was an attempt at distracting other potential criticisers of the BBC with a discouraging “that’s the opinion of bigots” stamp thus quashing any anti-mainstream opinion. The way the BBC’s lame-arsed comedians have been harping on about Brexit lately with their stereotypical “racists voted to leave” spiel, you can plainly see that the licence fee paid to this public broadcaster is being wasted on representing the minority, in this case the 48% who voted remain. There is a case to be made that the BBC are not representing the nation’s actual sentiments but are instead mocking them, but to confuse this kind of argument as a contrived left versus right, black versus white, male versus female issue is failing the issue itself.
Yes the majority of mainstream TV is banal but political correctness isn’t the only thing to blame for crap comedy, what about a more straightforward argument that untalented people are being allowed onto TV because networking and nepotism beats being gifted in today’s world? People like Andrew Lawrence are very blinkered when it comes to the issue of society, media, and politics, they feel there’s something wrong but they do nothing different to right these wrongs. If you feel some kind of liberal cell has formed within the upper echelons of television who are mocking and demonising the right, you don’t then turn around and throw muck at all of the left. If Andrew Lawrence was in charge of the BBC it would feel exactly the same but instead they’d be telling “lazy” and “hack” jokes about Labour and Remainers instead of UKIP and Brexiteers, nothing would change but the target of the shit-flinging. So what makes Andrew Lawrence any better than the people he’s apparently railing against?
It’s also pretty obvious that diversity isn’t the problem when it comes to the BBC but again it comes down to the selection of sub-par talent. Paul Chowdhry for example is funny but Romesh Ranganathan and Nish Kumar aren’t, therefore if you were a commissioner at the BBC you could pick the funny Asian comedian over the two crappy Asian comedians on offer. The problem therefore isn’t “ethnic” comedians, it’s lame comedians all-round, or is Lawrence seriously suggesting that Russell Howard, Jack Whitehall, and Josh Widdicombe are comedic geniuses because they’re white males?
This whole argument is very confusing to a genuine liberal such as myself who by the way is pro-Brexit, anti-UKIP, anti-Conservative, and anti-Labour, and who finds nothing entertaining or appealing about the BBC. If that shite is supposed to interest and engage me then they’re doing a piss-poor job.
As a liberal I must also point out that I abhor the subsequent overreaction to Lawrence’s Facebook post and his Twitter “jokes” such as calling for him to be “banned” from the BBC. But at the same time I think it’s very important to call out moronic behaviour and idiotic statements when they are uttered. So although I don’t agree that Lawrence should be banished from mainstream entertainment, I also feel his bullshit remarks should be countered. Feeling marginalised as a straight white male and blaming people of colour, women, feminists, and liberals in general is as idiotic as blaming all of the world’s woes on white men, it’s counter-productive. For every bigoted man there’s a bigoted woman, for every prejudice white person there’s a prejudice black person, bigotry isn’t the sole domain of a particular demographic. But instead of making any kind of significant point, people like Andrew Lawrence see fit to throw insults back at the other side, his right-leaning so-called comedy feeling as trite and banal as the alleged left-leaning mainstream he tries oh so hard to fulminate against.
I’d also add that outside of mainstream television, what’s actually become hack and contrived lately is white men protesting that they’re being “marginalised” and that they are now the minority, that “women”, “gays”, and “ethnics” are somehow taking over. Equality means an equal share but to see approximately 15% ethnic minorities on television and saying that’s the fall of the white male majority is just idiotic. But regardless of this fact, that’s the unfounded conclusion many white men come to these days, just take a look on Twitter any time there’s a show featuring any kind of minority “bias”.
Let’s also not forget that when Lawrence was given the opportunity he jumped on the channel he apparently despised quicker than you could say “conservative sellout”. Before his anti-BBC outburst, he appeared on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, Ask Rhod Gilbert, Live At The Apollo, Dave’s One Night Stand, and Stand Up For The Week, some of the most mediocre and safe, wannabe-liberal shows on British television. If he hates the BBC and the mundanity of its output why was he okay appearing on some of the worst dross ever to be aired on terrestrial television? And when he got the chance to change the mainstream’s content by saying what he wanted he didn’t promote some kind of alternative viewpoint, he instead cut his hair and became part of the generic offal that plagues the BBC.
Along with his new practical and utilitarian looks, Andrew Lawrence now seems like a contrived construct created to appeal to his ever-growing right-leaning fans. His wild, crazy eyes have disappeared, his hair has been shaved off, his content has been stripped of its surreality and originality and although he’s ramped-up the “offensiveness”, it all seems very “normal” from his original incarnation.
Sky Arts’ The Outcast Comic tackles the issue of Andrew Lawrence’s transformation from alternative comedian to conservative comedian. In this documentary, Lawrence is seen playing to white crowds, self-analysing his Facebook backlash with his “there’s a market for this” joke. Lawrence has somehow moulded himself to charm and allure the audience he inadvertently attracted since this post and now it seems all that matters to him is his political opinion. Andrew now seems content in satisfying his ever-growing, non-liberal, right-wing audience, who let’s face it, weren’t fans until he cut his hair and began telling clichéd jokes about feminists and Muslims. Even his recent comedy tour is titled the “Hate Speech Tour” which hypes-up his newly-adopted one-trick schtick.
In The Outcast Comic, you can see and hear some of Lawrence’s post-Facebook jokes such as his “Britain is a nation of immigrants… but some of us arrived when there was still some fucking space” joke. You can also see him cringe-worthily and wrongly assuming that one of his disabled audience members has paid less than everyone else in the room. You can see Andrew getting hardly a laugh when he tells his feminist-dead-women rigor mortis joke. Wow, what admiration this bigoted bullshit has brought him. At one point you can see two people walking out mid-way through his gig. In reaction to this Lawrence says that two people in an audience of ninety doesn’t bother him because eighty eight are still sat there. According to him this is the majority telling him that his jokes are acceptable. But maybe the other eighty eight didn’t want to waste their money and leave so they stayed sat and stuck it out, it says something about the way Lawrence measures his successes and how he perceives what the so-called “majority” wants in order to justify his opinions. Saying that if eighty eight people had walked out he’d reconsider his material shows that he’s a sellout, if that’s your true opinion you should stick to it regardless of what people think, but to say that he would reassess his opinions if a bigger percentage of his audience walks out on him, shows that his viewpoints aren’t at all firm. I’d also add that you could perform a completely far-right routine with non-stop racist jokes but if you selected your audience so that they were say, Neo Nazis, nobody would walk out on you. That’s hardly a litmus test for validating comedic content.
In this documentary, Andrew is also seen defending his comedy saying that things can be interpreted in different ways and that he isn’t bigoted at all. But if that was the case would he be telling lame jokes with easy and obvious targets? At one point in his routine whilst speaking about the kid’s show Postman Pat he says “there wouldn’t be any Muslim people in Greendale because there’s nothing there to blow up”. A “joke” that if you listen to it more than once doesn’t even make sense; a terrorist could blow up a bridge, a post office, a church so that being the case, this kind of lazy gag is just there to a. stir shit up b. say something offensive for the sake of it or c. show his idiotic beliefs about Muslims. Either way it’s just not very original or funny, two things that Lawrence used to be in the early noughties.
What’s very telling is the fact that Andrew Lawrence is incapable of making right-leaning jokes whilst clutching a guitar, wearing braces and sporting long hair, as if these aesthetic embellishments are somehow the antithesis of conservatism. Unmanageable hair? That isn’t the look of the right! It’s almost as if being “surreal” and “alternative” isn’t conducive to being right-wing.
It would be great if all this was a satirical comment about right-wing comedians, something which Brendon Burns alludes to in the documentary. Let’s face it, the majority of right-wing comedy isn’t particularly funny, just listen to Greg Gutfeld cracking his shite jokes on Fox News. I acknowledge that there’s a space for a right-wing comedian but it’s strange that even without the trappings of the mainstream someone like Andrew Lawrence who is now a one-man, right-wing band, can’t seem to tell genuinely funny jokes. To be right-wing brings its own stereotypes; you have to have a regular haircut and you can’t be “strange”, and it seems you also can’t be funny. Andrew has nailed these characteristics to a T. But, since Lawrence’s Facebook post was three years ago, not to mention his occasional contrived, right-leaning, pro-white-male tweets, we can safely say that this isn’t satire at all, it’s just an another angry white man pointing the finger at minorities without managing to make us laugh. Wow, how original.
Whether it was his intention or not, Andrew Lawrence is now grouped among other angry, self-isolated white men complaining about pointless issues like why is there a Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4, where’s the men’s hour? Or why is there an award show for Music Of Black Origin, where’s the award show for white music?! These people seem to be oblivious to the fact that anything without the label of “women” or “black” is automatically white and male, hence 90% of mainstream entertainment is Caucasian and male-oriented despite not being labelled as such. If you find yourself complaining that a minority has a minority share of broadcasting then you’re an ignorant twerp especially when you’re essentially the same demographic as the people in charge of the mainstream media.
It’s funny that this comedian who used to carry a guitar and sing about eating his mother (not in that way) is now in a non-stop, anti-political-correctness crusade. How do you change your act so much that you don’t resemble or even sound like you used to a decade and a half ago? I remember his fans used to be young and cool back in the day but now they’re old, dull, bigots, which is indicative of the way Andrew Lawrence’s act and personality is going. His fans now are the kind of people who say “you can’t say anything about Pakis, wogs, chinks, wops, cripples, and poofters any more” because we all know the source of all comedy and the essence of free speech is being able to yell trite epithets or contemptuous terms at minorities. It’s P.C. gone mad don’t you know!
Get Right The Fuck Off.