This isn't really a review. For those unfamiliar with Old Rope I'll give a brief overview and then explain why I'm not reviewing it. Old Rope is held every Monday (except Edinburghs and major winter holidays) at The Phoenix, Cavendish Square. Old Rope does well for a number of reasons; it is cheap, it is central and all the acts are established, if not household name, comics. Why is it so cheap, I hear you cry (okay...just pretend) well it is a new material night. This isn't as hideous as it sounds but in other ways is and thus I wouldn't feel right reviewing new material, some of which doesn't work and will never be used again. Plus @jaykayell_ said that would be cruel and I know in my heart he's right.
|A night at Old Rope|
None of that really relates to the point of my blog post title. I'll explain now. One comedian, who I had never heard of before but was established in Australia faced a particular hostile crowd. Poor Jacques Barrett. Actually not "Poor Jacques Barrett" the impression I got from our compere, James Dowdswell, was that Barrett had come all the way from Down Under to find his comedy pot of gold on the London and Edinburgh comedy scene. I've never seen an experienced performer misjudge a group. His material *SPOILERS* basically consisted of being bummed by big scary men. Barrett has issues and the audience responded with the contempt the material deserved. My sympathy lies in the crestfallen look Barrett had until he left, a man on the verge of tears at how badly it had gone.
I think the London comedy scene is a rather tolerant bunch, we will politely clap and everything but the moment we sense there may be some unsavoury intolerance we switch off; we officially hate you. Are all jokes that may seem homophobic, racist, sexist, transphobic all bad? Personally I don't think so. I should you be able to joke about ANYTHING. Why? Because people will never be happy, so do what you like. You can do those kind of jokes but there has to be the right intention, the right motive, the sense that if anybody said that seriously you'd find it as disgusting as the rest of us would.
Comedians' material play on their insecurities, I believe. They also play on other people's fears; if those fears and insecurities don't meet up with the audiences' (Barrett worries about being done up the arse by big scary Aussie blokes, I worry if I can get away with eyeliner...) then you've lost them and don't even bother to try and make a joke out of it. We hate you now, go away.