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Ricky Gervais - go get the noose

In the coming week you’ll have a job to do. It’ll be time to start scouring your home for a rigid, accessible beam that’ll hold your own body weight. Then you’ll need to go down to the nearest hardware store where you’ll need to purchase a strong enough piece of rope that’s long enough to make a hearty, reliable noose.

It’s vital that you do these preparations in time for Red Nose Day because if you do happen to tune into BBC1 on Friday night, the writing of a short note to your loved ones preceded by a determined attempt to end your life will be the only real option available to you.

Comic Relief will be on and if you are expecting something resembling entertainment you’ll be sorely disappointed. Never has there been a more inappropriate title for an evening that’ll consistently feature many laughter-free hours. There will be no relief and, I assure you, there’ll be absolutely no comedy.

News readers dancing about a bit, Ricky Gervais being Ricky Gervais, Jonathan Ross talking about himself, Steven Merchant and Stephen Fry being called Stephen with different spellings – this is what you can expect, and if you haven’t been afflicted by some sort of brain tumour you will find it all incredibly tiresome.

I’ve always thought charity is a noble principle based on the idea that you give of yourself – be it money or time – on the basis that you get nothing in return. Sadly, society hasn’t really got the hang of that yet: it needs an ‘event’ to induce generosity, and, with the help of the BBC, the joy of giving without return is undermined by a cynical transaction that says: ‘You give us cash, we’ll make you laugh’.

I’ve never laughed at anything featured in Comic Reliefs of the past. Each year comedians do their bit to further their careers on that basis that pouring baked beans down their underpants will prompt people to donate money. For a whole evening well-established comedy acts discard their trade and bore us all to death in hastily put-together sketches, fish-out-of-water stunts and cringe-inducing sequences while the supposed ‘hilarity’ will be put in perspective with intermittent images of disease and hunger designed to prick our consciences and reach for the credit card.

I think that if rational-thinking aliens landed on this ungodly planet they would doubtless ask, ‘Why not just give some money and forget all this utter utter nonsense?’

Unfortunately the British public hasn’t got any alien tendenceis: moreover it has the unbelievable capacity to absorb this televisual equivalent of excrement on that basis that ‘it’s all for a good cause’. The good cause is not the issue, the content is.

The strapline for the 2011 appeal is ‘Do something funny for money’, which is a gauntlet I’m happy to ignore. In fact, I’ve got a better, more direct challenge that I think gets to the heart of the principle of charity: ‘Do nothing for money – just give it away’.

Sooner or later we’ll understand that we can give on a regular basis and there’s no need for this pile of old crap that seems to last an eternity. When we do, Ricky Gervais, Jonathan Ross, Russell Brand, Michael MacIntyre and the like will be out of business and at that point it really will be a relief to us all.

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