22 Jun

On Colin Hunt and Clive James…

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Drawing this, I thought ‘too misogynistic’, which it is, I suppose, when I was only hoping to be misanthropic.

Speaking of my being misanthropic, it was strange this morning. I received a message via Twitter from a self-publishing author I slightly know who asked me to tweet all my followers with an ad for his book. I should ignore the fact that, except for my @richardmadeley account, I don’t have any followers, except to say that doesn’t it say much about celebrity that people loved my @richardmadeley account but are completely indifferent to the real me? Yet even if I had followers, I won’t retweet his message. If I don’t pester people to buy my books, I’m not going to pester them to buy the books of somebody who tells me that he’s selling them by the van load. And, frankly, I can’t bring myself to be that much of an arsehole, even if being an arsehole is what it takes to be a successful author these days. It’s all about getting your name out there: inundating people with your banal tweets, your self-serving message, your big gormless grinning face, your cheerful inane banter, your ceaseless self-promotion. I love the work of writing, drawing, and now animating my work. I hate the idea of sitting here all day telling people how great that work is or that I’m always happy and cheerful. It’s the side of Twitter that I despise: the constant stream of effluent coming from would-be comedians trying to be witty. The Fast Show used to feature a character, Colin Hunt, who thought himself funny and could never switch off. Twitter was made for him. Twitter is full of Colin Hunts and I don’t intend to be one of them.

As you can see from the quality of today’s cartoon, I’m running low on my very best cartoons on account of a new animation I’m working on. So far, I’ve drawn and rigged the main character and I’ve animated the opening shot, which has pleased me enormously. I’m now down to the tricky business of getting a script written so I can record it. The big question is whether I should swear or not.

I have a complex attitude towards swearing in comedy. I’ve always told myself that I wouldn’t do it and, generally, I haven’t. It was a restriction I set myself because I find that swearing usually gets in the way of the business of being funny. Like Jimmy Carr’s edgy jokes, I find it too easy a route to take. However, that said, some of my favourite comedy is very sweary. Armando Ianucci’s ‘The Thick Of It’ and ‘Veep’ are the obvious examples but I also love Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s experiments in profanity in the guise of Derek & Clive. So, at the back of my mind, I’m wondering if to push my next cartoon out into those same murky waters. If I do it, I want it to be creative swearing and to be making a point. And since my next cartoon might be something of a rant, the swearing would be apt. We’ll see…

On a final, sad note, I was really upset to read Clive James’ interview with Radio 4. In fact, I read part of it but could read no more. By the same token that I despise Twitter for the superficiality of the content, the glib attitudes that turn friendship into a mere follow, I like to think that a nobody can occasionally blog something meaningful about a stranger and mean every word. I recently wrote a review of James’ latest book and concluded with the line that he’s ‘a trickster who makes us laugh before fooling us into thinking seriously’. I can think of no better way of explaining what he’s always meant to me and why my thoughts are now with him.

 

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