Rape Jokes

Originally published in The Stage

Nov 2014


There has been much discussion in comedy circles recently about the rise of sexist material peddled by young male stand ups and especially the rape ‘jokes’ that have become increasingly common. Enter comic Dapper Laughs with his profoundly misogynistic ITV 2 show ‘On the Pull.’ He was caught on camera at a live gig defending it thus: ‘If it was a guide to rape, I would have done one five-minute episode, come on and go, “Oi oi, I’m Dapper Laughs, go down the shops, get some rope, bit of duct tape, rape the bitch, well done, see you later”.’


To add further glory to his repertoire Mr Laughs was then heard telling a female audience member she was ‘gagging for a rape’ before adding ‘do you want to come backstage after, yeah? Bring two of your mates, you’ll need them’.


I find this all rather depressing and I blame the gateway drug that is comedians like Jimmy Carr, whose material includes the lines – “What do nine out of 10 people enjoy? Gang rape…..” Or “What’s the difference between football and rape? Women don’t like football” And so on and so on.

Whilst I agree that comedy should sometimes be transgressive and I am not in favour of censorship, I find these routines pathetic and lamentable, making brutality a joke, at a time when British police fail to record one in four sex crimes.

Sexual assault is the only kind of violent assault for which the victim — not the assailant — feels guilty and is routinely blamed, overtly or by implication. These  Carr/Dapper style jokes risk normalizing the idea of violence against women in the minds of some of their audience.

Elsewhere on the net the comedian Andrew Lawrence wrote an apologia for UKIP and went on to criticise “panel shows like Mock The Week where aging, balding, fat men, ethnic comedians and women-posing-as-comedians, sit congratulating themselves on how enlightened they are about the fact that UKIP are ridiculous and pathetic.” Following complaints from other comedians he observed that “Increasingly the print media in this country is being dominated by militant pseudo-feminists.” (maybe he has a point here –Rupert Murdoch, Richard Desmond, the Barclay brothers and Paul Dacre are feminazi bra-burners to a man).

I noticed that one of the more than 1500 people (nearly all men) who ‘liked’ Lawrence’s original blog was a comic I have known for 30 years – one of the original batch of ‘alternative’ comedians who reacted against the sexist old school comics. I emailed to him to ask if he meant to ‘like’ Lawrence’s piece and his reply was “Yes. I just LOVE being naughty!” And he then sent me an old Benny Hill routine…

So  I am cast as the grim-faced naysayer who frowns at the boys having their innocent fun. Well then so be it. Once again I feel like making an apology to all the women of the world on behalf of my dismal gender. And a merry Christmas to you too vicar.