SimoN Baker at The Spotlight Club 17.4.09

In the past I’ve really enjoyed Simon Baker’s humour. He often veers close to that line between hilarious and offensive but usually pulls it back from the brink with a self-deprecatory twist.

Introducing the April Spotlight however he got it badly wrong in my eyes. He went too far and didn’t pull it back, it was as though this time he meant it.

Being the Friday after Easter Simon decided to take swipe at Christians. Easy target that, in these days of Dawkins and those factually innaccurate bus ads.* My favourite riposte was the cartoon of a man stood shivering in the rain outside a church where the notice board read ‘There’s Probably No Bus!’.

So Simon had picked up a card from the Christian Bookshop, telling the familiar parable of the footsteps on the sand. It seemed Ok at first, his little insertions were in his usual self-mocking voice. Gradually he abandoned pretense however and the bile poured out. Christ, he said, was a crutch for the weak, the pathetic, the socially-inept, and in being that crutch He prevents them every getting ‘better’.

We, yes we, Christians, according to Simon are emotionally retarded, stunted and lacking all social skills, mentally ill and sexually inexperienced until we finally find someone equally desperate. And all of this is because of our faith in Jesus. Well thanks for your insight Simon.

I’m not going to cite the millions of examples of good, successful, mature, Christians throughout history as counterpoint (well maybe just Newton, Dickens, Obama, or Nightingale.) I have a question instead:

Would it have been acceptable for Mr Baker to stereotype all women in the same manner? All the handicapped? Or all gay people, all black people or all Muslims in such hateful language? Would that have been ‘funny’? Of course not, and it is not acceptable for this ill-informed bigotry towards Christians to be promoted on a stage in Lancaster.

 

(*Factually innaccurate not because I am arguing that there definitely IS a God but because that slogan is taken from Richard dawkins’ The God Delusion, Chapter two I think, whereby he claims to have proved by logic that ‘there probably is no God’. However Professor Keith Carr has taken Dawkins’ premise and his logic and shown clearly that Dawkins’ conclusion is wrong in its own terms. Whether there is or isnt a God is not the point, the point is that Richard Dawkins atheism is founded on a failed understanding of his own assumptions. Simon Baker praised Dawkins in his vile rant too.)

6 Responses

  1. You may not believe this but I genuinely appreciate you taking the time to publish feedback on my work. To my knowledge, this is the only place that’s happened, so thanks.

    I was glad that you identified from the outset of your review an attempt to test and explore what kinds of material and humour will be, as you said, ‘acceptable’. It’s a privilege and a responsibility to try (and sometimes fail) to navigate that scary territory beyond the comfort zone. Hopefully it sometimes produces an interesting experience for both the performer and the audience.

    I’d like to argue that my bit wasn’t so much about stereotyping or generalising as exploring an experience common enough to trigger some laughter of recognition. You’re right that I wouldn’t stereotype ‘all women, all Muslims, etc.’ and I didn’t at any point say the words ‘all Christians’. The un-named Christian in the piece was an individual and the experiences described were about specific relationships and circumstances e.g.

    “I picked you up and carried you at University, said the Lord, because otherwise you might have gone on that date with Jenny and afterwards you might have got off with her a bit, which is a sin. I think you’ll agree that it was much better that instead you saw her outside the cinema where she was queueing up with another young man and you were standing with a placard that said ‘JK Rowling Is The Devil’s Whore’.”

    The exaggerated incidents in the monologue were drawn from my own past experiences (7 years as a committed ‘born-again’ Christian and President of Lancaster Uni Christian Union no less!) and those of other Christians I knew and know. So I’d like to claim this routine as an informed and thoughtful opinion rather than ‘ill-informed bigotry’. I view my time as a believer as having been a little like a coma: an often peaceful and sometimes wonderful state but not a healthy one and one that I ‘woke’ from into a different and, in my view, more real experience. I regret having spent so long and such an important period of my life in what I now regard to have been a delusional state and the strength and sincerity of that regret was perhaps why it was clear to you that ‘this time I meant it.’

    The ‘self-deprecatory twist’ was intended to be evident in the conclusion, where you felt I was praising Richard Dawkins:

    “Ha, take that Christianity. I think you’ll agree that between us, me and Richard Dawkins have pretty much destroyed that system of belief. I’d be very surprised if anyone at all showed up to church this Sunday…”

    (surely you didn’t think I meant that!)

    “…thereby allowing us to put in motion my plan to take all the money held by the various branches of the Christian church and invest that money in cutting-edge virtual reality machines. Install these in the empty churches so that every Sunday we can go and plug in and find out what it is really like to be somebody of a different race or colour, of the opposite sex or of a different sexuality thereby promoting a truly tolerant society and all through the teachings of me, of me, of me (adopts cruciform stance).”

    I’m not glad that I upset you nameless reviewer, (you have me at something of a disadvantage there!) especially as it seems I’ve alienated a former supporter. However, I’m glad we’re both able to express our views here – even if I don’t seem to be as good at summarising mine!

    • Thanks for responding Simon, and in so gracious a manner too.
      Firstly, I assumed that people knew that unsigned reviews here are my work, and I’m Kev McVeigh, but perhaps that’s my ego going too far. I have no desire to be an anonymous assassin.
      Secondly, well perhaps ex-Christians are as vehement as ex-Smokers supposedly are. I take the points you made in your reply on board, but politely suggest a little balance was missing on this occasion.
      And yes I will still come to hear you perform, everyone gets to make mistakes and move on.
      — Kev

  2. how very civil. I suggest a fist fight to sort this one.:-)

    • Its The Lunecy Review not lunacy! and we haven’t yet got into boxing reviews or any sports… should we?

  3. Gentlemen, choose your weapons.

    SIMON: I choose… sarcasm
    KEV: I choose… the Wrath of God
    SIMON: (gulp) erm… yeah, cos I’m really afraid of that

  4. Simon Baker is a genius. Mocking Christians isn’t the same as mocking women, handicapped or black people as Christianity is a choice. You shouldn’t take comical opinions so personally. Good work Simon.

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