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.