This is a post by Callum Scott that I have taken from his blog. During the Edinburgh Comedy Festival Callum performed at the (awfully named) So, You Think You’re Funny? Competition (I added the comma to apply accurate tone to the name of the competition). Callum is a very funny comedian that we all love here at HOWL, and when he received feedback from the judges they decided they would raise issues with his sexuality. I don’t think this is right, and so I thought I would share his story.
Taken from his blog:
Right. Here’s the difficult blog. I’m going to do my best to explain this, and see both sides. Not really! I’m going to be really difficult and unprofessional. Yay!
So, the 6th August saw my eagerly awaited So You Think You’re Funny Semifinal. I really enjoyed the gig. I had a shaky start, but the rest was brilliant, and playing to a room that size was fucking brilliant. All the acts were good, and I didn’t even care that I didn’t get through to the final. The gig itself I couldn’t fault, and I entered the Gilded Balloon bar with a spring in my step and a song in my heart. Although it would later turn out that that song was a morose minor key version of YMCA by the Village People.
Something I found really interesting and beneficial about SYTYF was that we could get feedback from the judges . I like getting feedback, and I felt I’d get a useful perspective on how to improve, and how I was currently getting on. But I was told the same thing independently by three very important people in comedy, and it unsettled me a bit, I guess. I was told that I should open with my gay joke, and make more of the fact that I’m gay. My sexuality was being talked about as a selling point, and I felt pretty shit about it. One of the judges even used the toxic phrase “I had no idea until you mentioned”, which if you didn’t know, is HOW GAY WORKS. Not OK. It really surprised me that the feedback would have a message that I viewed (rightly or wrongly) as quite regressive.
After the feedback debacle, I sat in the bar and considered my future. My options seemed to be to write a big stupid gay set, or to remove all gay jokes from my set to avoid accusations of hypocrisy. This was not how I wanted to feel after the biggest gig of my life. I felt like I’d never get anywhere unless I changed my act to suit the way that people in ‘the industry’ apparently felt. I couldn’t help thinking that the fact that in the set I performed, the gay joke was also the least ‘alternative’ (another argument for another day), was also relevant. It’s the first time I’ve ever had to consider that I even had any integrity, let alone whether or not to ignore it.
And then, something happened. Who should walk into the Gilded Balloon Bar but Andrew O’Neill, possibly the most ‘alternative’ comedian working in the UK (not getting drawn into it).
He does well. He does well at fucking Jongleurs. Fuck dumbing down.
I’ve written some gay jokes that I like, and want to perform, about being stereotyped, and about how “I had no idea until you mentioned” is, repeat, NOT OK. I even got told after a gig that it was ‘really important that I’m talking about what I’m talking about’ (it’s not). But seriously, it’s 2012. What a tedious and outdated issue to have to talk about.