Frank Carson, The BBC And The Death Of Comedy.

Frank Carson, the Northern Irish comedian who chuckled and gagged his way into a nation full of cynicism and misery. For decades, he kept smiles firmly perched on faces, until his quiet passing yesterday on the 22nd of February, 2012. He was 85 years old. All on all, one thing remains bitterly clear. Another loss for the nation, and another wound in the concept of comedy.

I’ve noticed in Britain over the years that we absolutely love comedy. We love tours, gags and jokes about the darkest to the most lighthearted of things. We’ve been treated to producing some of the greats in the framework of comedy, like Billy Connolly, Peter Kay and the late Frank Carson. The veins of our culture rely on the humour of the brave men and women that stand vertical to the spot light and propel their art to their respective crowds. From the vintage stand up mode to the quiz show format, comedy pulsates through the crust of British soil, filtrating individual identities to us all.

This was the case, but out culture is growing out of this fashion. Comedy is still regarded as important, but the power has been ensnared by the most disciplined and controlling of mechanisms. The British Broadcasting Corporation has given birth to too many producers, writers and too many of the ‘top dogs’ are being listened to. Jokes go from their original sources, usually a writer looking for a few quid to pay for their tuition fees, chunky knit-wear and the occasional drunken trip to McDonalds. As these pre-written gags get passed from executive to executive, producer to producer, by the time they reach to Nevermind The Buzzcocks teleprompter, the jokes’s morphed into a barely recognisable, washed-down mutant of its former self.

Orientating around his own cheeky, tireless and unique way of telling jokes, Frank Carson pushed the comedic boundaries in the ways we still see fit for national viewing. Sadly, in the light of todays comedy, which still remains as rich as it ever was, the facts stack up against the puns. As soon as the watershed at 9:00pm passes, you’d expect the darker, more aggressive organisms of comedy bait the state of society in the modern world and tell every penis joke under the sun. Some say smut, and other say genius. Because of the BBC, however, comedy isn’t allowed to be funny anymore.

Take Scottish comic Frankie Boy, for instance. A man who has controversy lurking around every corner with his jokes and perceptions of humanity that stain the back of supernatural homosapien psyche. Offensive, brutal and crude jokes that Boyle carefully caresses and pieces together in the most delicate manner, linguistically fitting words together and flexing the prosodic coils that compress the joke. Like an engineer, Boyle takes a look at British society, as well global communities too, as sees as universal need that requires quenching. He does this with his quips and sadistic look on life and it’s meanings. On stage, he is seen as a cynic and a bully to some, and others he is seen as a hero for the very same reasons people dislike him and his sense of humour. As soon as he steps of the stage, Boyle becomes just like every other person. To producers and to his despisers, he is seen as much as a menace as he is presented on stage or on the TV.

People forget that jokes are called jokes for a reason. They poke fun at the things we don’t dare to and in ways we could never imagine. The creators of these jokes should be applauded and rewarded for the joy they bring to people. Obviously, the debate swings in the direction to say that you can jokes without be lude or by swearing. But different jokes require different mouths to be projected from. You can’t imagine Frank Carson telling a joke about cross-species rape, but you can picture Boyle making that gag with ease. In no way, has comedy died with Frank Carson. Carson is one of the legends that will pass into our nations social and cultural history with the other greats, like Bob Monkhouse and Tommy Cooper.

With the influence of producers stopping the hard jokes, that get the biggest laughs, like Frankie Boyle on Mock the Week get, I fear that less and less comedians will pass the test of being one of the ‘greats’. I even fear that some may give up the practice entirely. Frankie Boyle has recently stated that he plans to stop touring. Following his departure from Mock the Week in 2009, Boyle said that his intentions to leave the show were due to the lack of control and freedom over his own jokes was taken away from him. “They stopped me doing last lines and the stand up parts” as he was quoted telling the BBC’s very own Jonathan Ross portrays the corporate hands grasping and manipulating the concepts we find the most relieving when compared to the stresses of modern life. If the BBC decides to kill off comedians as brilliantly perverted as Frankie Boyle, our nations comedy culture is in real trouble.

I for one refuse to be exposed to a singularly censored format of comedy and have a wide desire for something angrier and in your face than the comedy you get before 9:00pm. As we say goodbye to the wonderful Frank Carson, we need to hope we’re not saying goodbye to comedy forever, and that we’ll hear a few more “crackers” yet.


Look Out Ed Sheeran, There Is A New Ginger In Town.

Commercially, 2011 was very much Edward Christopher Sheeran’s year. At just twenty years old, Sheeran achieved back to back top ten singles, a number 1 album and a sell out UK tour defined Ed Sheeran as England’s new prodigal son. I, however, have someone else in mind for year 12. Ginger hair and soul seem to be the trend these days, and Archy Marshall has taken this style completely in his stride.

It’s hard to be critical of Ed Sheeran, even if he doesn’t quite dance on your pallet as he’s done for most of the mainstream audience. Style, musical versatility and a listenable sound that broadens and draws in a large section of the public as listeners, edging ever closer the Sheeran’s flame. Collaborations with Wretch 32, Devlin and even a song about Nando’s chicken make Sheeran even more likable. Public perceptions single out the delicate balance between his ability, charisma and modesty. All the same, I still see the ‘modest’ aspect of Sheeran as contended. Although he is young, he knows he’s done well, he knows he’s made it big and he knows he can only get bigger. And through no fault of his own, this shows through his interviews and live performances.

I see no problem with Archy Marshall, whom is better known now as King Krule, and formally known as Zoo Kid. Sheeran is interpreted as having a soulful, strong and omnipotent voice, dexterously suited for chart topping singles and adaptive for soul songs, fragmenting a small resonance of Al Green and Marvin Gaye. Like I said, Sheeran is a very sound choice. King Krule inveigles his assemblage on the other end of the sphere, down falling the soul conventions Sheeran, and so many other pop stars today, seem to be aiming to tick the boxes to.

Masking his music in a wall of darkwave reverb, King Krule blends the classic rockabilly jive guitar sound with the dense attack of house, dubstep and new wave sound. His love of fifties rockabilly shapes his music and plants foundation for his production and his lyrics to build on, over and intwine with the complex intersection of the harmonies King Krule works over. His sound, if playing to any outside conventions ticks many of the boxes that Sheeran circles his pen over. Hip hop, soul, and rock, three purist genres of music bounce out of the magician hat in King Krules garrison of tricks, and weaves a different take on Sheeran. One that is not listened to enough, in my opinion.

Starting life in music as Zoo Kid, Archy Marshall filmed his first music video, for the single ‘Out Getting Ribs’, at just the tender age of sixteen. Marshall has established himself in the modern day as a poet with a guitar and an ear for eery and crepuscular production, sporting lyrics such as “I can’t escape my own mistake” highlights Marshall as a teenager, and highlights his truth even further. Transforming his music and evolving from moody blues rockabilly, Marshall has bitten the veins of new wave minimalism, and has taken to the flow as easily as a lion takes to the hunt. His latest EP from last year, King Krule EP True Panther, has personified a greater hunger for melon collie music and bitter tone resentment, with songs such as ‘Portrait In Black And Blue’ and ‘The Noose Of Jah City’. Every ounce of soul seems to be squeezed out of Archy Marshall, and progressively puzzled into place.

As it always turns out, there is a tragedy in the appraisals that go unrecognised for artists like Archy Marshall. For a mere seventeen year old, he has mirrored if not bettered many of the achievements Ed Sheeran has made. Recently, under the name King Krule, Marshall embarked on a tour of America, playing shows in New York and Seattle, as well as other prestigious states. Ed Sheeran played open day venues in Los Angeles when he was nineteen, and a year later he was outselling the likes of Lady Gaga, The Black Keys and Beyonce. Surely though, to be playing in the states, a country notoriously difficult to erode and appease, at the age of just seventeen is more gracious and bigger deal than playing small open nights? Yes, King Krule will be at small venues, but he’s touring in a very musically famous part of the states. Seattle, the birth place of bands like Nirvana, The Screaming Tree’s and Soundgarden all originate from that area of America.

It pains me to think that one artist can do just as well as another artists, and received just a fraction of the understanding they deserve when compared to the achievements of others. Universal opinions are not all accounted for, and statistics are adding up in a less than representative way. I like Ed Sheeran, but I like King Krule too. Working from his recent releases, festival appearances and media attention, King Krule seems to be gliding up the ladder at a satisfactory velocity. Sadly, not fast enough when you sit back and look at his attributes.

Considering his vernal age, potential has grasped King Krule by the throat, and he seems he wants to use it. Not for fame, commercial success or even to appeal to his ever growing fan base. I get the impression that he really loves what he does and that’s more than enough for him. It exemplifies home grown British talent to know that we’re not producing poets, guitarists, singers and producers as down to Earth and inventive as artists like King Krule and Ed Sheeran. I have my own preference on the two respective identities, but one thing is artlessly clear. CopperCab was right. Gingers do have soul.