Belfast Telegraph

Today's comics as great as Eric? You must be having a laugh

By Gail Walker

How sad to bid farewell to Eric Sykes. Sad not just because we've lost a comedy legend, the last of a golden generation of comedians, but also as we watched classic Sykes' clips, we were reminded just how far we had fallen.

To watch the Oldham-born comedian at his best was to be reminded of an age of innocence when humour was meant to make everyone laugh. It was never designed to hurt anyone, except of course a knock on the bonce with a plank (and usually Sykes himself at the end of said plank).

Number 28 Sebastopol Terrace was your house and my house, exaggerated certainly, but one filled with recognisable characters and with a recognisable love. (Brother and sister living together now? Must be some story there. Know what I mean?)

How different to the new generation of funny men and women whose raison d'Ãtre seems to be to hurt, humiliate and shock. The aim largely is to laugh at someone not with them.

Gervais, Boyle, Baron Cohen, Carr, Stewart Lee - someone or some group ends up so hurt that a plank round the head looks like positive bliss. Soldiers who have lost legs, children with Down's Syndrome, unsuspecting Americans, the socially inept, Christians, Rebecca Adlington... they're all fair game because they are being ironic, satirical or simply 'pushing the envelope.'

It's 'comedy' centred on demonstrating the savviness or fearlessness or hipness of the comedian, with pleasing the audience the merest afterthought.

Maybe, just as in governments, we get the comedy and comedians we deserve. In which case God have mercy on our souls ...

In a time capsule to the future, who would you prefer to represent us, Eric or Frankie Boyle? Eric or Ricky 'Mong' Gervais?

Think I'll still stick with Eric.


From Belfast Telegraph