Sunday, January 06, 2008


BBC: Friday Night Comedy's best of 2007

A friend sent me a link to BBC Radio 4’s Friday Night Comedy program from 28 Dec. It seems that it made him think of me, for reasons he didn’t specify but which became obvious at 14 minutes into it. I’ve transcribed the applicable segment, which is about 2:45 long. It’d be worth giving it a listen for yourself, because the presenter is very good, but the audio is no longer available (they only have it available for a week, it seems).

[Update: In the comments, Ray points us to the full 7:20 version on YouTube. The version I heard (and transcribed) was just the beginning. And inw points out that the program is called The Now Show in the Friday Night Comedy time slot. Thanks, guys.]

So here’s my transcript (any errors are mine):

I’d like to start this week with a request, and this one goes out to the followers of the three Abrahamic religions: to the Muslims, Christians, and Jews. It’s just a little thing, really, but d’you think that when you’ve finished smashing up the world and blowing each other to bits and demanding special privileges while you do it... d’you think maybe the rest of us could sort of have our planet back? I wouldn’t ask, but the thing is, I’m starting to think there must be something written in the special books each of you so enjoy referring to that tells you it’s all right to behave like precious petulant pugnacious pricks. Forgive the alliteration, but your persistent power-mad punch-ups are pissing me off.

It’s mainly the extremists, obviously, but not exclusively; it’s a lot of mainstreamers, as well. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about, OK?

Muslims: Listen up, my bearded and veily friends. Calm down! OK? Stop blowing stuff up. Not everything that’s said about you is an attack on the prophet Muhammad and Allah that needs to end in the infidel being destroyed. Have a cup of tea, put on a Cat Stevens record, sit down, and chill out. I mean, seriously, what’s wrong with a strongly worded letter to the Times?

Christians: You and your churches don’t get to be millionaires while other people have nothing at all. They’re your bloody rules; either stick to them, or abandon the faith. And stop persecuting and killing people you judge to be immoral. Oh, and stop pretending you’re celibate as a coverup for being a gay or a nonce.

Right, that’s two ticked off.

Jews: I know you’re God’s chosen people, and the rest of us are just whatever, but when Israel behaves like a violent psychopathic bully and someone mentions it, that doesn’t make them “anti-Semitic”. And for the record, your troubled history is not a license to act with impunity now.

So, when the letters come — and I’m guessing they will — I can guarantee that each one of those faiths will be utterly convinced that I’ve singled them out for special criticism.

[Other voices give examples...]

“Why did it have to be us? Islam is a peaceful faith.”

“I don’t see what’s wrong with being Christian. We’re a peaceful, loving faith.”

“How dare you, after all we’ve been through? We Jews know how terrible violence can be.”

You see, all of them will be convinced that they’re the ones being picked on. The Abrahamic faiths are like Scouses; they’re always convinced [he puts on a Liverpudlian accent] they have it harder than everyone else. And why is it that all of these faiths claim to be peaceful, when even the most fleeting glance at a history of warfare will tell you otherwise. The relationship between religion and warfare is very similar to the relationship between Ant and Dec[1]: you could have one without the other, but I’m not sure anyone would see the point.

I find it hilarious: funny and tongue-in-cheek, while at the same time making a real and important point with which I vehemently agree. We have to chill out, develop thicker skins, and laugh at ourselves. We have to stop taking offense at everything, stop jumping up and down like spoiled children, stop waving our scimitars, torches, Uzis, and shillelaghs at the drop of a hat.

My father always used to tell me not to let “them” bother you... just let it roll off your back. We seem to have lost that lesson, and the guy on the BBC program points that out quite aptly.

[1] I had to ask about this reference, so, for the benefit of my non-UK readers (most, I imagine): Ant and Dec are a pair of TV hosts, popular and inseparable. The Wikipedia entry says this:

They have achieved such popularity as a duo that they are hardly ever seen apart on screen. (Indeed, it is reported that they are each insured against the other’s death, although the amount is unknown.) This has led to them receiving joint nominations for many awards. It is a running joke that many people do not know which of them is Ant, and which Dec, even though their respective appearances differ significantly.

Updated, 7 Jan... see first paragraph.


Ray said...

This would have been Marcus Brigstocke's brilliant piece:

Anonymous said...

The programme is actually "The Now Show". The timeslot is "Friday Night Comedy".


Lisa Simeone said...

Oh my, this is brilliant. And hilarious. Thank you!

Steve J said...

Marcus Brigstocke is a national treasure. One of a number of highly talented and extremely irritated comedians that Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis's "Now Show" has introduced me to. Nice to see he's transcended the language barrier that traditionally divides our great nations. I can highly recommend the rest of his material under the related links on YouTube.

One tiny point. Scouses - > Scousers, usually natives of Liverpool (