Shock and Awe

For my final comedy clip, I’ve chosen a few moments that barely raise a laugh … more of a gasp, if truth be told. Very few comedians before or since can rival Bill Hicks in sheer, dangerous, furious bravery and this short sequence is something of a masterclass in satire.

The words are spare and there is as much mime as message. He doesn’t preach or hector – at least, not here – but simply allows the story imagery to do its work. His silences draw us in, making us complicit in calling a whole world of moral priority into question and leaving us with nagging discomforts that may yet – who knows? – translate into worldwide policy changes. We should Pursue such ideals with a vengeance.

I’m not holding my breath, though …

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12 thoughts on “Shock and Awe

  1. And I see our Conservative government has renewed its commitment to increasing defence spending by 0.5% above inflation while some right wing commentators are telling us that we are spending too much on foreign aid. Seems to me those on the political right have got their priorities upside down.

  2. Maybe we wouldn’t have to worry so much about defending ourselves if we did more to solve some of the problems giving rise to the threat. Thanks for your shrewd observation.

  3. I am reminded of the Michael Flanders comment about what he and Donald Swann were doing “The purpose of satire has been rightly stated as to strip off the veneer of comforting illusion and cosy half-truth, our job, as I see it, is to put it back again.”
    Although songs like “The Slow Train,”, “Twenty tons of TNT” and “The War of 14-18” seem to me to be great examples where the veneer did not go back on seamlessly.
    I have enjoyed your trawl through comic gems – a perfect reminder of just how much real talent is out there. Thanks,. Dave.

    1. I’m glad you liked them, Mike, and your observations about Flanders & Swann remind me what a broad church comedy is … thank goodness! Nietzsche said that life without music was unimaginable but he might just as well said it about comedy. Laugh, I nearly died, etc. Nothing we liked better as kids but to join in around the piano while our mum played and sang ‘The Hippopotamus Song’ …

  4. I’ve never been able to see either Bill Hicks or George Carlin ( who i also like, but whose somewhat more volatile delivery isn’t quite as appealing to me as Bill’s) as comedians, because the truth they speak is just too sobering.

      1. Indeed. I almost suspect, too, that if these guys didn’t fit themselves into the “comedy” category, they may not have been able to make such accurate social/political commentary and get away with it…?

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