Not Effing Funny

I love comedy. The gift of laughter is a powerful thing.

Growing up in England in the seventies and eighties, I was subjected to a steady diet of The Two Ronnies, Morecambe and Wise, Ken Dodd, Kenny Everett, Fry and Lawrie, Lenny Henry and (Heaven help us) Benny Hill, to name but a few.

Decades later, I still love comedy, though the American sense of humor means that most comedians over here don’t really tickle my funny-bone. However, when someone recommended Bill Burr, I looked him up on Netflix, and settled down to watch “I’m sorry you feel that way”.

Before long, I wished that I hadn’t.

It started out well enough, but before long, he started swearing. And did not stop.

I grew up in the East End of London, and am no stranger to foul language, so I am not a pearl-clutching shrinking violet, by any stretch of the imagination. There are times when a little profanity can be funny, but it is highly situational. But I will not suffer someone to swear at me on a continual basis — and I sure as Hell (see what I did there?) won’t pay someone to do it.

During the time that Burr was speaking I counted:

  • Eight uses of “Jesus Christ”.
  • Six utterances of “God Damn”.
  • One shining example of a four-letter word beginning with the latter “C”.
  • And no less than ninety-two F-bombs.

All in less than eighty minutes.

I didn’t count the number of instances of “s**t”; although it is profanity, I consider it mild — though maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe that is a sign of how far we have fallen.

The sad thing is that his material was well-written and genuinely funny. But the sheer amount of swearing — more than one per minute — left me feeling… dirty. And it’s not just him; gratuitous profanity seems to be a staple of American stand-up comedy. I left a one-star rating only because it was not possible to give zero stars.

Am I the only person who feels this way?

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