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Disability Arts Online

DAO Editor's advice

Days pass. I am due an email from the south coast. Disability Arts Online editor, Colin Hambrook, is about to change his opinion. I had sent him the first part of this piece without any context to it, to publish as a blog entry. Once again the opinion that the joke wasn't any good had been given, but with that came the hammer blow: 'some people might think it disablist'.

I sent it back to Colin with the counter opinion that this was partly the point. I had been given a joke and I didn't know what to do with it but I had this notion that I wanted to tour it, explore it, find out how jokes and comedians work.

Context it would seem is everything. This was Colin's reply:

"I like this Rich! It's very thought-provoking. Might be worth mulling it over some more - but this is my initial response.

What is it about our responses to humour? It is after all a mechanism for dealing with life - which is pretty tough for all human beings, disabled and non-disabled - in one shape or form and, of course, to largely varying degrees.

We talk about disablist humour masking fear of disability - but is it that what's going on when Ricky Gervais comes out with crap jokes about disabled people - or writes shit like 'Life's Too Short?' Or is it that he's just a jerk? If he is a jerk then why is he a jerk? What has made him like that?

I always get the impression that he's masking some fear of stupidity with his comedy - and that's why he so often makes learning disabled people the butt, because it fits the sterotype. He nails his colours and makes a public spectacle of being stupid - so that no-one can accuse him of stupidity. But then why do big corporations like the BBC buy it? Why don't people just ignore him? Why do people find him funny, for gods sake!

There are lots of things to consider here and it would be good to know if you get a response from Laurence Clark or Liz Carr? It might be worth touting opinion from some other disabled comedians too: Steve Best, Simon Minty, Gareth Berliner, Paul Betney, Tanyalee Davis, Annie Cowan, Steve Day, Chris McCausland, Juliet Cowan, Liam O'Carroll, Caroline Parker, Huw Thomas, Liz Bentely - all come to mind.

I would see this as a research piece, rather than a blog. As such think about publishing it as a whole rather than piecemeal - incorporating interviews / quotes from your protagonists responding to a crass joke about why blind men don't dance?"