During the Melbourne Comedy Festival the Herald Sun published two articles on using the word ‘Cunt’ in comedy.
Profanity is an important tool for the comedian, in fact its vital. As wordsmiths we need unreserved access to the endless Profanosaurus that is the English language. When people are offended at comedy shows by bad language they complain and in an era where all opinions are valid and your comment will be taken seriously no one wants to be a baddie and most of the time comics must apologize. To me this seems ridiculous; being offended by a comedian’s language is like going to a boxing match and complaining about the level of violence displayed. Profanity has been a part of comedy since one monkey laughed at another monkey for smelling his own stink finger. If you’ve never watched George Carlin’s famous ‘7 things you cant say on Television’ sketch read this article then watch it on YouTube.
In this article I’m writing about that most powerful of profanities, the nastiest of the nasty a word so BAD I cannot even write it here on the page with wing dings in the middle. The C word! Comedians who have used it at the 2012 Melbourne Comedy Festival have been called ‘cheap’ ‘talentless’ and ‘responsible for the DECLINE of society!’ which is of course all true. In our defence I’d like to quote the excellent comedian Steve Hughes ‘if you are offended, good be offended, you’re an adult grow up’. Being offended is your right so write a letter or comment below under an anonymous pseudonym, tell someone, express your feelings, get it off your chest, but don’t expect that your outrage will stop comedians swearing. To assume that your puritanical outrage trumps a comedian’s right to swear would be a terrible hypocrisy. You are both on different sides of the same right to free speech and freedom of expression, our right to swear and your right to write a letter and complain. If you really dislike a comedians language, leave the show, but if you intend on staying and getting your moneys worth shut up and deal with it because chances are you’re an adult and you’ve heard the C word before. Parents bringing children to comedy shows need to ask the front of house staff if the show is appropriate and think about why your bringing an infant to a comedy show at 9.45pm in the FIRST PLACE.
I love the C word, it has a rich and interesting history and its one of the best words available. It’s origins can be traced back to the Romans but it was most famously used on English streets where prostitutes worked in the middles ages and since then it has risen to the top of the profanity tree. Its a potent word and I cheered when Germaine Greer discussed it at length on the BBC TV show, “Balderdash & Piffle”, to quote Germaine “it is a precious word as it is one of the few remaining words in the English Language with a genuine power to shock”. I absolutely agree with Germaine on this, it is a precious word and a word not for the young. Its a profanity that should be earned and used sparingly like Saffron or Fenugreek because if it is used regularly then it will lose all its potency and we will lose one of the most precious words in the English language.