The Blog

Being Funny In A Trump Presidency

In times like this folks turn to us for laughs and when we can't even provide that, they still turn to us for some reason. Maybe because we're pretty good at shooting straight and putting our feelings into words.

Trump is president and not since 9/11 have I seen even late night comedy hosts brought nearly to tears. In times like this folks turn to us for laughs and when we can't even provide that, they still turn to us for some reason. Maybe because we're pretty good at shooting straight and putting our feelings into words. But perhaps we got too good at this and we inadvertently helped fuel this fire.

It's been asked why so many comedians are left to left of centre a lot lately, and on the whole I'd say it's because we get to spend a lot of time hearing a lot of perspectives. What's more, comics talk a lot and mostly about taboo subjects. So one ends up spending a lot of time in cars with people of varying sexuality, ethnicity and gender and long before the advent of the camera phone I, for one got to hear and see that the black experience was very very different to mine. I soon found out not every gay guy wanted to shag me and that female comics, on the whole, got treated differently by audiences than male ones did. I've witnessed positive and negative discrimination first hand on a fairly regular basis.

But this is important, I've had my mind changed, not had what I already felt was the right way to think confirmed. This is why people don't like liberals; we're annoying, sneery, condescending and above all, we take what we think as a given. And judgemental, oh how judgemental. Pouncing on anyone online who dares to ask a question, we delude ourselves we already know the answer to. Calling people homophobes, sexists and racists at the drop of a hat, all the while empowering the real sexists, homophobes and racists. Because, frankly, after a while, If the shoe fits, f*** you!

I have heard the term punching up and punching down a lot these past few years. And maybe, just maybe, if I'm someone that gets to make a living pursuing my dream, who lives a fairly comfortable middle class lifestyle, perhaps I shouldn't spend so much time mocking the fears and concerns of white working class people. Maybe that is the epitome of punching down? I'm not suggesting confirming people's fears and prejudices. But it's pretty common knowledge that for the past few years labelling UKIP voters (or even sympathisers) racist idiots was the cheapest hackiest laugh a comic could get without having to provide any real follow up. And somewhere in that, anyone even remotely right leaning in the audience felt belittled and ashamed. And when no one was watching, without really knowing what it meant, a lot of them voted Brexit. Because they wanted to tell us to go f*** ourselves.

And now the same has happened in the US. Donald Trump was funny to us, as were his supporters. We lumped them all in one massive racist, ignorant group and again, when no one was watching, although they never admitted it in the polls or the exit polls, they got to tick a box and say screw you, I'll show you what's racist, sexist and homophobic.

I didn't really feel very funny on Wednesday. And I don't know what all this means. I remember after 9/11 every comedy club was full that weekend. For me comedian Ian Stone put it best when he said, "Most of the time as a comic you feel like it's a fairly pointless, selfish job but that was one night where you felt like the fifth emergency service. Like making people laugh at such a dire time was actually a selfless act" (Or words to that effect, he can't remember what he said and neither can I. We are, after all, professional idiots) Every comic was dreading going to work that weekend and I think a lot of us feel that way this week. Yes this is overseas but despite our greatest protestations we still look to America as the hub of western civilisation. And now mummy and daddy are fighting and a spiteful demagogue that doesn't really know very much has the nuclear codes. A lot of us that have never actually lived through one, fear a proper world war.

So I'm going to do the only thing I can, the only thing I'm even half decent at: I'm going to go to work this weekend and try and make blacks, gays, whites, browns etc... laugh their arses off.

But this time, I'm going to be a little less condescending about it. Because look how that turned out.

Brendon's tour show "Black Comedian" is on sale here

His regular podcast "Dumb White Guy' can be downloaded free here

And he hosts a diversity show in London this Sunday here