26/01/2015 09:23 GMT | Updated 21/03/2015 05:59 GMT

Political Correctness: Je Suis Comedy


We live in a world where we are constantly looking over our shoulder in fear of offending someone.

The Political Correctness cloud follows us everywhere we go and sometimes it drops a downpour on us just when we thought it was safe to go out without a satirical raincoat on.

Some of us, especially stand-up comedians, can oftentimes find ourselves submerged in puddles as we wade through our sets in dark underground basements just trying to make sense of the world. And using language we believe to know well.

Did I just say 'dark' basement? Oh, I do apologize.

I meant to say, dimly-lit lower ground vicinity environment that has the capacity to reduce our vision.

Silly, isn't it? I mean, you can't even ask for a cup of coffee in your preferred shade without looking under your table to see if there is a Language Enforcer plant under the table brought in by the Institute of Being Offended Unit.

"Can we have two black coffees, please?"

"I'm sorry, sir, we don't serve black coffee. I can serve you coffee without milk."

"Yes, coffee without milk will be fine, but isn't that black coffee?"

They say, 'Political Correctness is a double-edged sword.'

What if I was of African origin and asked for a white coffee?

Would that qualify for a ride on the back of the sword's double-edged blade as it swings and cuts ferociously through the air aiming for its intended offending target? If so, get sharpening.

Maybe, unless my aforementioned African origin just so happened to be from a country on the vast continent that doesn't have a lion's share percentage population of black people.

I have always loved the complexity of Political Correctness. It has kept me on my toes and the more I understood its meaning, the more it has kept me safe. Understanding Political Correctness improved me as a writer and comedian.

I thought I knew Political Correctness and understood the realms and boundaries, until recently.

I have spent much of my writing and comedy work trying to bring people together regardless of their skin colour, sexuality, origins or religion. I have embraced diversity and the whole multi-culti package with wide open arms and a broad gaping smile.

I fully understand the need to fight racism and anything prejudice in all its forms.

What I don't understand, however, is killing someone over satire - using being offended as a reason - or an excuse.

I used to concern myself with the small trivial matters of worrying if I am offending until the Charlie Hebdo incident. Somehow a vast tragedy like that dwarfs my hesitating on whether I should refrain from using the term, there's a chink in my amoire for fear of putting a dent in the oriental community.

My worrying concern about reporting on lazy, self-inflicted, overweight, and massively-indulging characters might result in me being on the receiving end of a wrath from fatties and hauled up in front of Size Acceptance Campaigner panel of judges for fat-shaming; but whatever happens I know my fate will never be anywhere near as tragic as that of the Charlie Hebdo victims.

The history of comedy - and many say its birth - stems from taking a slant (no, not dented armoire-related) on our everyday lives that include every minute circumstances. In its infancy the so-named peasants would gather in dark venues and made light of their rulers. Kings and queens were often on the brunt end of satire and lampoon.

Through the dark to industrial ages the hard labour workforce congregated in what we now believe was the first early social clubs where comedy was seen as a way of dealing with the hardships of survival.

Lighthearted jibes, satire and lampooning of their bosses was rife. As was making fun of religious figures, the hierarchy, and the ruling bodies: everything was and still is up for grabs.

If anything I truly believe the Charlie Hebdo tragedy has highlighted the world of satire that bit more and as most people in the comedy business will tell you: it's hard to keep a comedy artist quiet, let alone silence them.

As I recently replied to a question on how I feel about offending God, I said: "I am more offended by being constantly told one exists."

You see, I am an atheist.

Or should that be, A person of reasonable logic still waiting to be persuaded otherwise with hardcore factual evidence to the contrary.

Je Suis Comedy

Read more of Stephen's work in the Dafty News