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You wanted edgy comedy, and you got it

Of course Jeremy Clarkson’s pun on the word “slope” was racist. That was the point.

When sex talk was forbidden, sexual innuendo was funny. When blasphemy against Christianity was forbidden, sly puns in scurrilous seventeenth century pamphlets and even ambiguous symbols in paintings and engravings were funny. So powerful is the link between humour and prohibition that our modern comedians often seek to buttress a weak joke with a plea to be persecuted, only not too much.

Nowadays what is forbidden? Hostility to homosexuality is forbidden, hence the schoolchildren use “gay” to mean “unfashionable”, “lame”, “rubbishy”. Blasphemy against Islam is forbidden, hence Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons and Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. And racism is forbidden, hence Clarkson.

I don’t care for that sort of humour, myself. Clarkson can be much funnier than that. Also much funnier than that is the spectacle of all those Guardianistas and BBC types who fell over themselves to proclaim their free-spirited devotion to “edgy”, “transgressive”, “brave” comedy clutching their smelling-salts now that they are the bourgeoisie being épaté.

39 comments to You wanted edgy comedy, and you got it

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Perhaps I’ve led a sheltered life, but I’d never heard of the word “slope” being used as a racial epithet.

    Which I why, when I read about the panty-bunching at the BBC over Clarkson saying “There’s a slope on it…” (ostensibly related to the considerable gradient they had built into bridge constructed for an episode of Top Gear) while a Thai labourer walked across, I thought it was bloody hilarious.

    Given the context what would have made it even funnier is if he had played innocent while the lefties bent themselves out of shape trying to prove what he really meant….

  • Laird

    Just one more illustration of why people who take offense so easily deserve to be offended, repeatedly and frequently. The grievance industry is in full-production mode.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Don’t have anything worth saying about the substance of this post, but i think it is a relief to have a post about edgy comedy following a post about a sad anniversary.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Natalie, me neither. (She said, inelegantly.) But I must say you end your remarks with a hilarious swipe of your own. :>))!!

  • Tedd


    You’ve never seen Pulp Fiction?

  • Tedd

    Is there somewhere we can see the original remark? I’d like to make up my own mind.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Smited in my attempt to give Tedd that link…..

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Link to clip unsmited now.

  • We are clearly on the slippery slope…

  • LOL. This is so far beyond ridiculous…

  • Fred the Fourth

    JV: Really? Never?
    It was common in crude US insult-slang during the US-Vietnam war era, along with “Gook”.
    Maybe I’m just showing my age…

  • hennesli

    I seem to remember that many of the folks here on Samizdata are not immune to being outraged by Jeremy Clarksons schtick


  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Pretty sure it is US/Australian slang Fred. Every news article reporting the “incident” here in the UK had comments sections full of people asking what a “slope” was. Which of course begs the question of why people got so offended?

    If you have to run off and google a term before acting offended, seems to me that offense must be largely feigned.

    But as I say, I found it very funny. Not in a “he’s being racist to that poor day labourer” way, but in a “he found a clever way to say things the BBC wont approve of” way. I love the way CLarkson slips things in under the BBC’s radar, and since he’s one of the only parts of the corporation that actually turns a profit mostly they have to put up with it.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Hennesli, indeed. Clarkson can be a tosser, as well as very perceptive and funny, as that linked example shows. Unlike leftists, however, people at this blog don’t demand he be banned when he’s out of order. Freedom of speech is not the same as freedom from harsh criticism for what you say.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Yes, one does, or did, occasionally hear some of the Provincials using “slope” as a slang opprobrious epithet for Oriental persons generally, meaning Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, or anybody not gwailo. Personally it always sounded “made-up,” inauthentic to me. And I haven’t run across it in decades.

    –There needs to be an adverb “slangily.” Slangily opprobrious epithet. Note, not “slangingly.” That would have to do with having thrown things. “He had slangingly moved his show toward the TV screen.” Or something.

  • Chip

    Clarkson can say what he wants and the grievance industry is insane.

    Yet, if he called my half-Asian daughter a slope in that context I would respond rather aggressively.

  • Nick (Blame FrenchMEN) Gray

    Instead of a Devil’s Dictionary, someone could compile a Victim’s Dictionary, so that anything can be twisted to be an insult- so you can sue anyone who says anything to you, if you don’t like them! For instance, if someone says ‘Good morning’, a wanna-be victim might take that as an insult- “I’m not smart enough to see that for myself, ey? Is that what you think, by stating the obvious?”
    Soon we’ll have outlawed all jokes, except for ones about New Zealanders. Why?
    They’re so dumb, they’ll never get the joke!
    (Feel free to change the nationality to suit personal biases.)

  • Bruce Hoult

    Hey!! I resemble that!!

    Probably a bloody strine…

  • Paul Marks

    But the P.C. establishment do NOT want “edgy” comedy that “tests the boundaries” – they only pretend to want it.

    They actually want comedy that just supports their P.C. stands – on race, gender, sexual orientation (and so on). Stuff that reinforces the P.C. establishment.

    And in all this the Prime Minister is closer to Frankfurt School university crowd (who control most of the media) than he is to dissenters. Hence his rushing off to see the film “Breakback Mountain” as almost the first thing he did on becoming leader of the Conservative Party – this was presented as “brave”, it was nothing of the kind (it was a signal that he was part of the establishment – and that Mr Cameron becoming Prime Minister would be no threat to the establishment). It would have been “brave” to make a big thing of going to see a film ATTACKING homosexuality, or a film suggesting that black people were naturally vicious (or whatever) – and Mr Cameron would never have dreamt of such dissent (nor would I ask him to see such films).

    My own opinion?

    Actually I think that many of the official attitudes of the establishment are GOOD – even though the Frankfurt School Marxists do this stuff for political reasons (rather than out of genuine belief) that does NOT mean that racism and so on good things (they are bad things), ditto being cruel to homosexuals and so on.

    What I resent is this vast lie that establishment values are “brave” (“edgy”) – on the contrary they are the way to advancement (and to oppose them is the way to be forced into resignation).

    It is the hypocritical nature of the situation that is so contemptible.

    For example there is not real opposition to racism (not as a matter of PRINCIPLE) – as we see with Mr “Lenny” Henry of the BBC (and so on).

    Mr Henry is a RACIST – he believes that people should be employed on the basis of the COLOUR OF THEIR SKIN.

    Yet that has no bad effect on the life of Mr Henry – there are no establishment calls for him to “resign” and no efforts to drive him from respectable society.

    On the contrary it is people who attempt to mock (with real “edgy comedy”) Mr Henry’s racism who are driven from public life.

    I can understand the Frankfurt School Marxists of the universities and the BBC behaving like this (their “anti racism” is FAKE – just a cover for attacking “capitalist society”), but what about Mr Cameron and so on?

    Why not DENOUNCE the racism of Mr Henry and co?

    No – sadly even the “conservative” part of the establishment has not got the guts.

    Cowardice – pure cowardice.

  • Mr Ed

    Why not DENOUNCE the racism of Mr Henry and co?

    No – sadly even the “conservative” part of the establishment has not got the guts.

    Cowardice – pure cowardice.

    I rather think that it is not cowardice, it is a question of inclination. Mr Cameron would not be inclined to behave in that way, even if he felt that he could or should, politically. It would be cowardice if he wished to, but feared the consequences.

  • Indeed, Mr. Ed. It’s not as if people like Cameron have their own opinions, but are afraid to express them. Rather, they don’t actually have opinions of their own.

  • Mr Ed,
    Bingo! It isn’t even cowardice.

  • Rob

    There’s nothing more conservative than “Alternative Comedy”.

  • Paul

    “Slope” has been around for some time. The best example I can come up with is the helicopter/Valkyries scene from Apocalypse Now:

    “We’ll come in low, out of the rising sun, and about a mile out,
    we’ll put on the music… ”

    “Music ?”

    ” Yeah, I use Wagner — scares the hell
    out of the slopes! My boys love it !”

  • RAB

    There’s nothing as unfunny either.

  • Endivio Roquefort I

    Alternative comedy is for people seeking an alternative to being amused.

  • Nick (Natural Genius) Gray

    ‘Cutting Edge Humour’ SHOULD be such that the audience likes being in stitches, surely?

  • Bruce

    The term “gook” goes back to the Korean War at least.

    It is a phonetic corruption of a Korean word that more-or-less means “nationality” or, sort-of, “ethnic persuasion” and is etymologically related to the Chinese word “Quoc”.

    For example, loosely translated “Han Gook” in Korean means “(person of) Han (ethnic Korean) origin”.

    That the word became a slang term indicating “generic Asian” is more an indication of poor scholarship than of outright racism.

  • Nick (Natural Genius) Gray

    Alisa and NickM, when you join any party, your opinions are handed to you with your membership. Your conscience will be scrubbed clean, and remain unused whilst you are a party member. Groupsoul will be your conscience for the duration. Individual souls and consciences would just get in the way!

  • Fred the Fourth

    Kim, you old reprobate!
    I was reminded of you just the other day when I read of a party held at the posh remote mountain retreat of some wanker or other, who’s friends all apparently agreed that in case the SHTF, they’d all congregate there for safety. I sniggered at the apocalyptic images this conjured up.

  • Nick (Natural Genius) Gray

    Kim, at least be polite enough to call me a sneggro! Or a Safrican-American!

  • staghounds

    Would slant have been better?

  • Nick (Natural Genius) Gray

    To answer an earlier question about what to call people from Hong Kong, I think the best term would be honkey. Safrican-Americans have been safely using this term for years, and I never knew what it meant.

  • mojo

    I’m not sure it was a pun. I think he was just noticing the decided lean to one side the bridge had.

    Go ahead, prove me wrong in my charitable interpretation.

  • mojo

    PS: Never be niggardly in your charity.

  • Dale Amon

    In the nineties while working in Manhattan, I stayed with Caribbean co-workers in Park Slope. Will they have to re-name part of Brooklyn?