Wednesday, 20 June 2007

More About Manning

On the Chortle forum there has been the inevitable discussions about the death of Bernard Manning. As with most forums there's a wide range of opinions. A lot of folk held Manning in contempt and thought his act was foul. However a few folk have been on defending him. Or at least attempting to point out what a technically good comedian he was, therefore making critisisms of racism unfounded.

That argument is like saying Albert Speer shouldn't have been condemned for being a Nazi, because he was quite a good architect.

I for one am not saying that Manning was inept at how he made his living. He had comic timing, could hold an audience of a certain kind and had a stage prescence. Things that you would really need to have to be successful in entertainment for six decades. None of that excuses the jokes he told and the out and out racism - the belief that 'The White Man' was superior to everyone else - he peddled.

One of the best bits on the forum thread was a guy who said "I've heard countless black people over the last 24 hours stating that they didn't think Bernard Manning's act was racist." Maybe he had, I have no way of knowing.

Alexei Sayle writes about Manning in today's Independent.

To placate whatever frazzled part of their mind acts as a conscience, Manning and his kind always draw some arbitrary line that they swear they won't cross, like an alcoholic telling himself that his drinking is under control as long as he stays off the barley wine. I seem to remember Bernard stating that though he might use terms like "nigger" and "coon " in his act, he would never, ever tell a joke about "disabled kiddies". You could hear the self-regarding tremor in his voice as he said this, as if he was reluctantly admitting to being a humanitarian of similar stature to Nelson Mandela, Noam Chomsky or Aung San Suu Kyi. He always denied being a racist, claiming that he made fun of everybody, equally - " politicians, bald-headed people, people with glasses on, the lot. I have a go at everybody and that's what makes everybody roar with laughter." I notice he left "nigger, coon and Paki" out of his list, though. Those were the words people objected to him using; I can't remember much of a furore about his specky four-eyed barbs.

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