UPDATE – 12th November 2012
A blog reader, who happens to work in a sandwich shop got in touch with me last month, to tell me that Limmy had been in, they had discussed his work, and she mentioned that – although she had heard good things about his television show, she was concerned about some of the things that he had been saying online – particularly as a woman who works in a sandwich shop and who faces sexual harrassment in her job. Limmy went and read the blogpost and apologised to her for the comment and asked her to pass the apology on to me as well.
With his new series starting tonight, I very much hope that he has taken this on board and gone back to what he does best – making fun of all of us through showing us our common humanity, and in doing so humanising the outsiders.
I loved Limmy, I really did.
Ever since chancing across his show flicking through channels one night, I thought I had found something fresh and original. Edgy comedy in the best traditions of Rab C Nesbitt and Still Game in a sketch format. With characters like Jacqueline McCafferty, embodying working class self-doubt; Dee Dee, who over-analyses the simplest of situations and Wee Gary, making a profit out of playground exploitation. Neds, Junkies, schoolkids, dodgy prophets, frustrated suits – all portrayed with a level of sympathy and warmth, a striking contrast to the cruelty of Little Britain.
With similiarly marginalised characters we are invited to laugh at Vicky Pollard, Emily Howard and Daffyd Thomas in a way that we can’t with Limmy’s creations, for there but for the grace of God go we – embarrassed in a posh restaurant not knowing how to pronounce something we really want; a chain of thought that won’t budge from your head and starts driving you mad; cultural ignorance which is exploited by the less noble of your mates.
A common theme running through the show was the internal narrative of paranoia that runs through all of our heads – the wee guys who controls everything you dae. In this it harks back to Ben Elton in his glory days (before he started writing shite musicals and performing for George Bush). In the mid-80s, an audience sick of the sexist, racist spoutings that passed for comedy, embraced the new alternative comedy, with Elton leading the charge. Based not on – “look at them, look how weird they are, aren’t they funny”; but rather on “look at us, look how weird we all are; aren’t we funny”, it brought a level of innocence back to humour that had been defiled by endless sexism and racism.
Now, humour is an odd beast – one woman’s rape is another man’s hilarilous anecdote (trigger warning) to be told in front of an audience of thousands, so when you find that kindness in comedy – someone who can bring humour out of the marginalised by demonstrating how similar they are you and how ridiculous you are - its a thing to be treasured.
Yet over the last week, I’ve fallen seriously out of love with Limmy. It started on Twitter, when I got this retweet which used the hashtag #whitepeopleblues, which contributed to the satirical lampooning the accusations of racism levelled at Dianne Abbott.
#whitepeopleblues Lifelong poverty, heroin and alcohol addiction, then dying of natural causes at 52. #glaswegian
Not only missing the point of the hashtag, but also that black weedgies fare no better in the addiction, poverty and deathrate stakes. But hey ho, nobody’s perfect.
But then yesterday there was this…
Splish splash, yer maw’s cunt needs a good wash.
…posted to his facebook page. As one of his defenders pointed out, you need be a weedgie to fully understand the joke “yer maw’s cunt” can either be taken literally, or with “cunt” as a West Coast moniker for person, it could refer to her partner. Regardless the “humour” still rests on the dirtiness of female genitalia. Predictably it unleashed a torrent of misogyny from wee guys that thought they were being funny, with no challenge from the big man himself, despite several fans pointing out how unacceptable it was.
None of it seems to have been taken onboard with his latest facebook posting today.
Ask a lady at Gregg’s if she’s got a fresh fanny, and you’ll be brought a French Fancy. No way did she hear what she thought she heard
Now for the sake of brevity, we’ll ignore the benevolent sexism in referring to a female shop-assistant as “lady”, but why the fuck would you be asking the “lady” in Greggs if “she’s got a fresh fanny”? To embarrass her, to make it clear that her cunt might “need a good wash”, and that you, a random male – for these posts are aimed at squarely at males – see fit to inquire about the state of her intimate hygiene because hey, you’re a bloke and she’s just a woman in public place, employed to serve you.
To anyone living outwith Scotland, Limmy has rapidly become an institution, with many of his catchphrases being repeated at opportune moments – at the eviction of the Hetherington for example, as supporters blocked the street, forcing the police to reverse up University Gardens, chants of “Wrong Way Down a One Way Street” filled the air. I don’t think its inconceivable that women working in Greggs will face sexual harrassment from daft wee customers who think they are funny; nor do I think its inconceivable that there might be a fair number of daft wee customers tomorrow who get slapped in the coupon.
But its not funny; Limmy’s not funny anymore. He’s gone from being the freshest comedy talent in Scotland to an parochial obscene Bernard Manning.
Sort it out, Limmy.