Monday, November 26, 2007

Daniel Kitson,Poetry Comedy and Politics

This post isn't really about being a loser, but it is indicative of the fact that I am one. It's 1:30am on a school night, I should be in bed - but no, I am going to analyse the hell out of a comedy show. On the internet!

I have a fair bit of revision to do right now, what I should be doing is applying theories of Romanticsm, the Enlightenment and um, stuff, to poems and literature, not to stand up comedians. I should be doing my work, not making my pleasure into work. At the moment I am having a bit of a crisis of confidence in Literature along the lines of 'WHAT'S THE FUCKING POINT'. Like books and that, they are good - but what interests me about literature is the way in which art reflects and shapes culture ; how art is used to re-inforce or challenge existing power structures. I care about this in a modern context - so yeah, what I want to study is media studies, but you can't do that at 'good' universities so I am stuck with reading about a load of dead white guys, for now anyway.

Back to my topic 'Daniel Kitson Poetry Comedy and Politics'

For those who don't know Daniel Kitson is a stand up comedian. For those of you who do know, you will realise that Kitson is somewhat 'more than a comedian', he has called himself a poet, (this is not just his ego, others have called him this too). I think Kitson is a poet, but I would go further than that and say that all stand up comedians are poets. Many of them are absolute crap and perhaps do not deserve such a lofty title, but then there are crap poets too.

I think stand up is poetry for lots of reasons. It's aural and recited to groups of people, its sucess is dependent on the importance of timing. Like poetry it can have overt political messages (see Bill Hicks or Mark Thomas) or more contain more subtle evidence of some political ideology (Daniel Kitson/Josie Long). There is a great deal of importance placed on the individual, it provides one individual perspective and narrative. It also tends to be seen as a masculine domain, the most succesful stand up acts being men;just as women Romantic poets constitute one lecture in a semester of romanticsm so women comedians often constitute one act on the bill.

Wordsworth suggested that poets have a privaledged access to some fundamental truth, he elevated them to the status of demi gods (which I think may have been after he became a poet himself....) He stated that they have the truth because they observe nature and humanity, and then they reflect upon it, and present it to others.
'He is a man speaking to men : a man it is true, eluded by lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, a greater knowledge of human nature and a more comprehensive soul' (Wordsworth on poets)
It is fair to say I think that this is how DK sees himself, or at least how many of his more ardent fans would esteeem him.
'He has an added disposition to be affected more than other men by absent things as if they were present'
This romantic ideal can be seen in Kitson's comedy, as can be the way that he takes mundane subjects, inner feelings and thoughts sparked by a singular event, and then reflects, re-reflects and heaps on external significance creating both laughter and feeling.
I think Wordsworth was a terrible egotist, he also stole stuff from his sisters diary about daffodils, but I also think that comedians must feel this 'added disposition' to a greater or lesser extent before getting on stage.
That or perhaps they just want to get laid more easily.....

Wordsworth's poet, like Kitson's comedian is an introspective internal individual, who places huge importance upon the internal and the ordinary. Just as Wordsworth encourages us to wonder lonely as a cloud, Daniel Kitson encourages people to see the magic in the mundane. His shows centre around small personal events, which he extends to some deeper individual meaning. Wordsworth sits and reflects on his sister's feeling as she observes Tintern Abbey: Kitson contemplates the foundation of his mother's defiant greeting of other walkers in South Yorkshire.

Another important aspect is the emphasis on solitude, Wordsworth was very into this, lots of reflection and wondering around thinking about flowers (did I mention he stole that from his sister's diary - well he did, what a dick). Kitson seems to spend a lot of time internally reflecting upon his place in his world,(his smallness/its bigness,ok so he uses better words than me) and the importance of small acts of kindness.

This is where I part ways with Kitson and his politics; because it is politics. You could suggest that his shows aren't political, but all art is political. It has ideology and significance which it attempts to pass on. Whether or not this is coherent or clear there are political messages in everything we do. Every stand up comedian should understand that, and that when they make a peadophile joke ( which Kitson did tonight... shame on him) it says something about what you think,your politics and who you are. I can't abide this 'oh it's just humour' it's just a laugh , it's ironic. You are on stage, you are saying something - your aim is to make people laugh yes, but what else are you saying? ( By the way I am a super fun person to be around, know and spend time with. I do think about stuff* a lot but hell that's what brains are for right?)

Tonight Kitson said that genocide comes from the same impulses that make people think it is ok to be selfish on buses. I do not disagree - selfishness and a need for power manifests itself in different ways, there is definately a scale of twat. It's like I think, minor sexist comments and jokes and the pay gap are on the same scale too. Repeatedly using the word cunt as a derogatory term, and sexual violence are also on the same scale. Beating up a gay man, and using the word 'gay' to mean 'crap' are also related. I think Kitson begins to have a very good point here, but fails to follow it to its natural conclusion, then again he is a comedian not a social scientist.

I think that's the issue I have, that by getting people to focus in on their own lives then it can prevent them focusing out on the lives of others. Perhaps I have Kitson all wrong, but he tends to suggest that if we all do nice little things then the world will be a better place, that these little acts of kindness are heroic. Again, I do not completely disagree, we should all be nice to each other, but there is no way that small acts of kindness can change the world.

To me heroism is saying right, fuck it, the world is a mess and I am going to do the most that I can for it not to be, and really there is more that we can do than just giving £100 to the homeless, or intervening when people are in danger. These are good acts - but people have had revolutions! People can get together and do things in groups to stop really shit things that happen every day.

At the start of his show DK said that somehow we manage to live our lives despite the fact that the world is full of horror, that every second we are alive there is rape, murder and injustice. He called this a massive act of compartmentalisation - which it is. However I think that he misses the point a bit here too. Some people can't compartmentalise the horror in the world because they don't get chance, if you live through injustice every day it does not become compartmentalised. If you are lucky you can ignore it, or limit it's impact on your self, but it remains with you. This includes a lot of people in the UK but they are not perhaps a typical Kitson audience.

The other thing is, do we have to compartmentalise these things? Should we just refer to them every now and again, or is that part of the problem?

I am not trying to say 'I am a super thoughtful person who spends all her time thinking about injustice' but perhaps in order to properly challenge injustice we need to de-compartmentalise a bit? I don't think we should all spend our time weeping( I don't, did I mention that I'm really fun? good,cos I am, super fun), but then I don't think this would have to be the case. It's like if there is a room in your house which is a complete tip and keeps getting messier, you could just leave it - go into another room and watch telly. Every now and then you come back to the messy room, look at it and go 'shit it's a mess' and then go back to the room with the TV in it. I think this is what most people do, but there is another option. We could stay in the messy room and start to tidy it up a bit.. (periodically going back to the TV room obviously.) There will probably be disagreements as to how best to go about tidying up, and it will continue to get covered in other peoples crap - you might even end up making the TV room messy. It's harder, but I think it's the better option. ( my room is a tip right now - I wonder where my analogies come from....)

I think technology and the dissemination of knowledge can facilitate this decompartmentalisation. DK says that we get an inflated sense of ourselves because the world is getting smaller, I'm not sure that this is true. I think perhaps we get a feeling of 'oh well, what can I do about it?I'm just one person' but human beings all live with other humans, and if we worked together we could actually do something. Kitson said that we can never know the weight of the inner workings of the internal lives of others. This is correct, but also defeatest. What we can do is listen to the problems and observe the external experiences of others, and it is possible to change those things, and on a large scale too.

So yes Kitson ramble - I think he is an excellent comedian, very funny - but flawed. He had a good story about Denis Potter, who called his terminal cancer Rupert Murdoch. I liked that a lot, infact I think perhaps some scientists should name the next terminal illness they come across 'Rupert Murdoch syndrome'.

This is a good example though - Rupert Murdoch is an evil fucker, and he's one man controlling and fucking up so much of the world. Denis Potter's gesture was fantastic, and perhaps the only thing that he could do, but that should beg the question - we don't have cancer (apologies for assuming things about my reader, if you do have cancer then I hope you get better soon)
so what are we doing? Can we do something to Rupert Murdoch - maybe not individually but as groups?

The tube is full of adverts for cosmetic surgery which women have to see everyday, encouraging women to mutilate themselves in order to buy 'self esteem'. A group of people on facebook started stickering them with various comments/slogans. Loads of people did it and the Tube advertising person threatened legal action. To me this is so wonderful, people took risks in their everyday life to say NO - I don't want to put up with this any more. That's heroisim. One person started that group and then loads of people got on board, and I think shows a good example of people saying 'right this is a mess- lets do something'.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I think we can change the world. We can't know what other people think or feel exactly, but we can try. I like Daniel Kitson, I think he is talented, his command of words makes my vocabulary seem rather, umm crappy in comparison. I enjoy the way he deconstructs his experiences. I guess I would just like to see him think bigger, look at deconstructing the fabric of society rather than the individual. Then again I am probably taking this all too seriously, he is a mere funny man after all.

Am a big big Bill Hicks fan, again I think he was personally flawed but he was someone who really wanted to change things through his medium.

"The world is like a ride in an amusement park and when you choose to go on it you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and around and around and it has thrills and chills and it's very brightly coloured and it's very loud. And it's fun - for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question; is this real? Or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, and they say, "Hey, don't worry, don't be afraid, ever, because... this is just a ride."
Bill Hicks

Man am I a deep thinker or what. I think I will go into my exam next week and be like, well no I'm not sure I do know very much about Romantic writers approach to humanism, but look at these thoughts that I just had about the world. Am obviously just so smart, you might as well give me a good mark and be done with it...

Anyway going to go study before I disappear too far up my own arse.

* some stuff, this stuff, not so much my work which I should be doing.....

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Laziness vs Apathy

I have been thinking about laziness and apathy; because I am lazy, man am I lazy. My father before me was lazy; he has been known to drive to the cornershop to buy chocolate.His mother before him was lazy;she owns one of those grabber things for picking up stuff, though on second thoughts that might be for other reasons, like being old.
It's in my genes, and unless you can change your genetic material by standing infront of a microwave waiting for your tea to be ready, it seems unlikely to change.
I am not however apathetic.

Apathy I think is the curse of our generation ( along with skinny jeans, stupid hair and the knowledge that climate change might actually affect us).
We go to massive lengths to show that we don't care. The second we care about stuff we are lame. I am at university which is plagued with examples of this, usually female wearing tracksuit bottoms, the boyfriend's rugby top, intentionally messy hair and some expensive item to indicate their class.
Though irritating, this is harmless, what is a problem is when people want to change the world and they are made to feel like dick heads for giving a shit. The sneers which people give to 'do-gooder' societies at university, the complete lack of cool associated with working hard. Now don't get me wrong, I shy away from hard work as much as the next person ( what do you think I am - not lazy?) but I care, I really care, and I don't mind saying it. The world is a horrible mess, but I want to do something about it. I know it is probably impossible for all the bad in the world to go away, but I think whilst human beings are alive they should work towards making things better for other people.
Reading back at my last sentence I think, what a loser ! It's a good job I know that I'm cool ( I write a blog right? what's not cool about that !!)
I can understand looking at the world and feeling like there is not much we can do, but going to efforts to prove that you don't care in order to be cool?
I went to a show in the fringe by Josie Long called 'trying is good' , it was very enjoyable - but it focused on small efforts people make, which are nice in their own way, but I think big efforts are better. I think we should start thinking big.
Like Micheal Moore - I like him a lot. There is a man after my own heart, he might use emotive imagary and spin but what a task, to liberalise the conservative poor of America. To take on the Republican government... There is someone who thinks big, and probably drives to the cornershop too.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Essay strife

I warn you this is not going to be a very funny post. When I started this blog I thought it would be so that I could be amusingly a loser. Today I am just a loser.It's not funny. Don't laugh at my pain.

I am writing an essay, it's not going well. I don't know why - I have a lot of work on and lately I have been a bit stressed. It's on Frankenstein , Wieland and the supernatural. It shouldn't be that hard really, just a load of making stuff up. I only have to make up about another 800 words - but for some reason my brain has packed in and I just don't want to do anything. Like some sort of cancer it has extended beyond the immediate situation. I don't want to do anything. I just sit there, but I don't want to do that so then I stare at the page for a bit. I considered watching tv but I don't want to do that. I don't want to go to bed or stay awake. I am pretty sure that I want to be alive which is a good sign. Beyond that...

My problem is I want to get a good mark. All the other people in my tutorial are really smart, and I feel like I need to prove that I'm really smart too.
What I want to do is sit back and consider how much essays matter in the grand scheme of things.... however if that's the case I should just hand in 1097 words and be like 'in the grand scheme of things- does this matter, I mean really?'
Another problem is I want to get good marks without really doing too much work. Up until now I have more or less managed to do this.
Not any more.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I was just thinking about money and how, though I don't have any ( which is generally quite rubbish) it's probably a good job I'm not loaded because I would just fritter it away on silly things. Such as the following ;-
1. Personalised seat at the filmhouse saying Liz is amazing, or 'there is chewing gum underneath this one' (ps Liz Ely is amazing) - only £450 and a permenant source of amusement and pride
2. Obviously would become one of the Cameo 500 (£500) and then go in and demand that I get a free sackload of popcorn - I would also buy a cat and take it to the cinema with me, which as a special member I would be allowed to do
3. Dancing giant frankenstine('s monster yes I am a lit student) (£99) that is in that shop - cash converter ( classy joint that, we have one in castleford) I would put it in the hall of our flats building and then watch the bemusement of our young proffessional share tennant type people. I would probably get rid of it after a while.
4. I'd buy a cat to kill the mouse in our flat - and then pay someone to look after it for me - they would then have to bring the cat round for visits at times of my choosing. I would pay them £40 per week basic maintenence for the cat - and then £7 per hour for every visit - plus expenses. This would be a very good thing to do because I think it would be a nice part time job for any student - much better than working in Scot mid.
5.would buy the complete simpsons box sets (this is actually a very sensible thing for anyone to do) and then invite my cat sitter round and we could watch them with the cat. cost- £1000 or so maybe ? Maybe a bit less.
6. I would pay louis theroux to make a documentary on my life and the life of my flatmates ( mostly on me though) don't know exactly how much this would cost but would definately be prepared to pay in kind ....
8. would install a jukebox and a pic and mix machine in my flat - this might involve getting a bigger flat.
9. If I get a bigger flat I would put a ballpool in there - and a bouncy castle and a trampoline - but micheal jackson is not coming round to visit no matter how many times he asks

Boris the Beatboxer

I think it's really important to do stuff that you don't normally do, it's fun and expands your horizons, makes you learn things and you get to meet new people, it also prevents boredom setting in whilst we wait for the asteroid to hit.

This was the spirit in which I went to a breakdance/beatbox/MC competition on Sunday. I don't really know much about that kind of music hip hop/break-beat whatever it's called, you know, the sort of genres that require DJs to do something other than just press play.
That's not to say I don't like it, I can definately appreciate it for it's artistic merit, but it intimidates me, most people who like this kind of music can actually dance - they can feel beats and rhythms, they don't just jump around when the stone roses come on, or drunkenly scream 'DEBASER' in their mates face whilst gesturing with mock emotion, nor do they invoke the spirit of Jarvis Cocker and mime as if the whole world will be impressed by the fact that you know all the words to common people.*

The competition was hosted by vaxhaull - and the prize was £1000 to 'pimp your motor' which I suppose is something you might have to do if you have the misfortune to actually drive a vauxhaull. There was also a £100 spot prize for use of the vauxhall logo in their 'bit' , the winner actually stripped off during a 'power move' to reveal 'it's the drive of your life' on his arse. Indeed !

I did have a great time and the physical prowess, rhythm and creativity displayed by the dancers was incredible, all male incidentally - and very male. Hip hop does have a sort of hyper masculinity about it that weedy indie boys obviously gave up on years ago. Which makes me wonder at it as a form of mating ritual - the machismo, the boasting - the display of perfectly toned and incredibley flexible bodies..........

But I am getting a little off topic now.... One of my favourite performers was called Boris, who was a beat boxer (to put this in non hip-hop terms, it means he can make his mouth into a ghetto-blaster) Now Boris was much too good looking to have the name of Boris, and could not have looked more public school if he had Harrow tattooed** on his forehead. He was fantastic - his voice was like some kind of computer, obviously he had the 'threads'***, and obviously he was very posh. This made me look around and wonder at the social make up of this subculture- as it strikes me that it does appeal to both the traditional 'street' audience and the middle classes. So in many ways a very diverse audience, and a forum for social mixing potentially - which is nice.

But staying with Boris - I begin to wonder how common this public school 'Hip hop' phase is, how many of the elite go through this - and does this mean that in the not too distant future we will be faced with GANGSTA TORIES ? is this potentially the direction in which the party is heading? David Cameron is already becoming pretty damned cool with environmentalism and cycling - in the future will we have Tories who discuss privitisation, the benefits of vegetarianism and carbon footprints by day, and display power moves on the rugs of their kensington flats by night? Will the next party leader astound party members at the conference by MCing the Tory manifesto - before encouraging the crowd to form a circle around the shadow cabinet 'crew' while they spin around on their heads ?

Or perhaps these hip hop kids wil join the labour party instead.......

Funny women

So I'm up late as usual - not very well, so I rang up ScotMid to get tommorrow morning off, if there's one thing I hate it's ringing in sick. Don't get me wrong, skiving work is one of my favourite pasttimes -it's like being at the end of your life and then someone comes in and gives you 5 extra hours with which to do something super fun. ( I will probably get up late and then spend the morning reading the observer)

It's just doing the phoning that I hate. Possibly because last time I did it one trainee manager shouted at me, had the nerve to imply that I had a hangover ( which is the last thing you want to hear when you are hungover) . That and there is this work ethic at slave labour jobs, such as supermarkets, which dictates that nothing less than rabies or the plague is a good excuse.

Anyway here I am faffing around on the net till this painkiller caffine wears off - on which is a really good website full of funny/interesting feminstic articles, which mostly confirm my opinions ( you know, that all men should be put in cages and made to apologise for patriarchy at half hour intervals and bake us chocolate cakes, while we set about putting the world back together and growing our armpit hair)

and I stumble upon a slightly depressing article in the independent

Apparently funny women just aren't hot. Despite the fact that funny men can get girls like nobody's buisness, the same is just not true for female comedians :-

"Men see being funny as a male thing," explained Dr Rod Martin
Hundreds of men and women in their twenties were questioned. Asked if they found a sense of humour to be attractive in women, most men said yes. But when they were asked if they would want to be with a woman who cracked jokes herself, the answer was a resounding no.

"When forced to choose between humour production and humour appreciation in potential partners, women valued humour production, whereas men valued receptivity to their own humour," said Dr Martin.

As someone who considers herself a humour producer ( as well as a receiver) and also a straight single woman this would seem to be bad news. Apparently Meera Syal would tone down her humour when chatting up blokes , and Oriane Messina ( of radio 4 - no I hadn't heard of her either) says she tempers her humour around attractive men, and considered lying about her job whilst speed dating ( which is probably a prerequisite of speed dating.... erm not that I'd know)

I read another article in vanity fair which suggested that women aren't funny because we have babies, having babies being a very serious matter which completely wears out the funny bones of women. This I find quite ridiculous - if you are going to push a living thing out of your private parts you need a sense of humour in my book.

So then what is to be done about this ? Frankly I have no idea - I'd like to think it isn't true, that really men all have secret crushes on Jennifer Saunders, Lucy Porter,Meera Syal. However unfortunately experience leads me to think otherwise....

Some sort of scheme perhaps, to put all men in cages and only let out the ones who will agree to fancy funny women, after they have baked me a massive cake and admired my new armpit-haircut of course.

Aquados Thoughts

So it's midnightish and I'm eating weatabix ( or 'wheat biscuits' - they are rectangular and slightly smaller but otherwise no difference) with raisins honey and bananas and I can see a box of aquados - which are some washing up tablet type things. I like the name, it sounds like a Spanish water park.

You put them directly in your washing rather than in the little tray thing - very nice, none of this confusion about which powder goes in what tray malarky ( I have been putting a little bit in each tray lately - you can never be too careful). Sure enough on the back of the packet I can read the benefits of aquados NO SKIN CONTACT !! NO MESS ! DISSOLVES STRAIGHT AWAY - etc etc and the final most intreguing one NO POWDER INHALATION!!!

No powder inhalation? I wonder is everyone who uses good old loose powder actually putting themselves at risk from inhaling dangerous washing particles? Is this worse in the case of biological washing powder? Infact what is the difference between bio and non bio - I know it is something to do with enzymes. Then I imagine a little green enzyme with a face eating up dirt.

Then I stopped thinking for a while and continued to eat my supper,then I started to think about farmfoods. I like shopping at farmfoods - though I often wonder at what kind of farm produces large bags of chips at low low prices - a farm of the future no doubt! I wonder if that is funny or not. Probably not.

Thing about farmfoods, apart from the misrepresentative name, and the fact that everything is 50p or a pound or 5 for a pound ( which I like because it helps with maths) and the fact that it is generally filled with poor people, and you can get a snickers for 23p( or 5 for a pound)
is the fact that it somehow allows me a convenient excuse not to shop ethically. Now I believe in organic farming and fair trade and anything that helps society - I really do, and I will pay more for it - but if your only choice is tetley and you get 5 million teabags for 50p - well the choice is a tough one...

These are my thoughts. what an incredible thing they are now on a forum to be read by maybe all of 5 people. I wonder if web 2 ( which we are apparently now in - a web where users are more responsible for content/active) encourages more thought or merely encourages more introspection - people just saying more about fewer things. I think the internet is incredible. I also think I should go to bed.

I'm a loser baby !!!

It has always struck me that there was an incredible defecit of female losers in popular culture. Comedy is awash with men who are hilriously underdeveloped, stuck in a sort of post adolescent daze. Sitting about in their underwear playing computer games, being generally pathetic. Loser men are everywhere - they form our rock bands, they are our indie singers, our slacker comedians, our comic book artists. It goes without saying that they are on the internet, they are on the internet a lot.
Wait a minute though - so am I ! I am a geek, and a loser, I buy too many dvds and watch them in my pants*, I make bad jokes, I eat and drink too much, I can be a bit daft, I AM LAZY ! I don't want to grow up ( but I want success anyway ) I am rubbish at having a love-life, I fail at getting men to notice me, I say the wrong thing and spend far too much time online, at night.
Alas, I have no penis, but all the pop culture icons I feel I can relate to do. Growing up I wanted to be Jarvis Cocker not a Spice Girl, I wanted to be Eddie Izzard, or Charlie Brooker, or a member of the supernaturals ( remember them?) I wanted to be a loveable loser, and most of the time* I feel like that's what I am.
With the notable exception of Jessica Stevenson in Spaced, and perhaps the Smack the Pony crew, our female slack icons are few and far between. I am writing a blog to address this balence.
I could analyse the reasons for this deficit, but I think people have to work it out for themselves (here's a hint, it's to do with gender inequality)
So yes, I am standing up and saying ( well more like sitting down and typing) I AM A LOSER.
I am including some of my loserish posts from facebook notes too.

*most of the time.... sometimes I am grumpy,cynical and decidedly unloveable. It's ok though, in those moments I am really more Bernard Black/Edmund Blackadder. Or a complete bitch, take your pick.
* Ok so no i don't, I wear Pyjamas - pants is the dream though..... One day......