If there is one social commentator who I always make sure to accidentally click on links to because I don't realise what they are, it is Tim Blair, a man whose blog brings a whole new meaning to the word "huh?"
Say what you like about him - for example, "he is desperately striving to retain the illusion of relevance", or "how has a man built an entire career on his unfulfilled desire to be chastised with a riding crop by Annabel Crabb?" or "it's not so much a blog as an open-mic night for the developmentally-delayed" - but you can't deny that Tim is never one to shy away from controversy, never one to indulge in political correctness, never one to ice the cupcake of his opinion with the butter cream of conciliation, and today was no exception, as the nation's foremost citizen journalist set to the task of determining, sound statistical means, the answer to one of Australia's most intriguing public policy questions: out of all those chicks who get on Tim Blair's wick, which one is the most mentally ill?
You might think this is a trivial matter, but to many of us, knowing which left-wing feminist is the biggest nutcase could have a major impact on our lives: when most of your life is devoted to squatting in a corner of your bathroom gnawing on Saos and muttering about people trying to steal your thoughts, it makes a huge difference being able to focus your muttering on one particular target. The time savings alone are enormous.
But let us not be complacent: the fact Tim Blair has hit upon the solution to the problem of which frightbat is the craziest frightbat, a question that has plagued mankind ever since the first man looked to the stars and wondered what the hell a "frightbat" is, does not mean there are not other, equally important questions we need the answers to. So let us now decide those answers using the tried-and-true Blair method. Please leave your answers in the comments.
QUESTION 1: Who is Australia's foremost right-wing columnist?
a) Tim Blair
b) Andrew Bolt
c) Piers Akerman
d) Miranda Devine
e) This small bowl of custard
QUESTION 2: What is a woman?
a) One of the larger species of Atlantic deep-sea fish
b) A series of irregular lumps occasionally flashing into my line of sight
d) The point at which apple juice boils
e) This small bowl of custard
QUESTION 3: What did women do to Tim Blair?
a) Made fun of his smell that day he had to walk all the way to school
b) Snapped his bra strap
c) Called him "Jellytits"
d) Called him "Grima Spermtongue"
e) Stole his Chantoozies cassingle right out of his bag
QUESTION 4: At what age did Tim Blair's mother prematurely stop breastfeeding him?
b) eighteen and a half
e) four hours
QUESTION 5: Why are da ladeez so crazee?
a) Their wombs
b) We taught them to read
c) Cos they need a real man
d) They have had too many abortions
e) I have seen them dancing naked in the woods
QUESTION 6: What can be done about girls?
c) The Bible
d) Make them cook dinner
e) A good shave
QUESTION 7: How can I become a famous journalist?
a) Start a blog with funny polls on
b) Wander around public parks in the nude, hitting yourself in the face with a dead possum and screaming "Natasha Stott Despoja stole my fluids!"
c) Masturbate into a cup and mail it to the Australian
d) Get incredibly angry about speed limits
e) Drop some acid and become convinced that David Marr is hiding in your oven
QUESTION 8: What, exactly, is a "frightbat"?
a) A bat which has had a fright
b) A Gray-Nicolls Geoff Marsh Signature Power-Scoop
c) A clitoris with a machine gun
d) A terrifying faceless man, enormously tall and with eerie spindly limbs, who appears in terrifying visions on the inside of Tim Blair's eyelids
e) This small bowl of custard
QUESTION 9: What is the most pressing problem assailing modern society?
c) Males being oppressed
d) Emotional castration
QUESTION 10: What is the first symptom of hysteria?
a) Being mean to a dude
b) Wearing trousers
c) Appearing on Q&A
e) Working for News Limited
Monday, June 9, 2014
How can Rik be dead, if we still have his poetry?
Sometimes you see a new comedy, and you think, this is fantastic, really funny. But sometimes you see a new comedy and you think, this is not just funny, this is so new, so inventive, so different from what you've been led to believe comedy can be, that it changes your life.
It's not happened that often with me. Monty Python did it. Mystery Science Theater 3000 did it. And The Young Ones did it.
Here was a show that, frankly, just did not give a shit about the rules. It would be dazzlingly clever and outrageously juvenile in the same minute. It was as bright and loud and ludicrously violent as the silliest cartoon you could imagine. It was a sitcom and a sketch show at the same time. On those occasions where narrative poked its head through the chaos, it was only for a minute before cutting to a puppet show, or a commercial parody, or a performance by Motorhead. We who experienced it when we were young were never quite the same - it was impossible to watch that show and come away thinking about entertainment, or comedy, or life, just as you had before you'd turned it on.
And while there were many elements to The Young Ones, and Nigel Planer, Adrian Edmondson, Chris Ryan, Alexei Sayle and Ben Elton - along with guest stars skimmed from the cream of alternative comedy - deserve much credit, there was never any doubt who the heart of the show was. The centre, the apex, the soaring firework that demanded your attention, the super-magnet you couldn't take your eyes off, the fizzing, freakish, fabulously funny genius driving the show to astounding heights of boundless hilarity.
Rik Mayall. There was nothing subtle about him. He threw his vulgar, brilliantly stupid comedy straight in your face with never the slightest hint of restraint or doubt. He knew what was funny, and if you didn't, he would make sure that was amended by the time he was through. There may never have been a comedic performer so utterly dedicated to doing anything for a laugh, never been a comedian who cared less about anything besides making the audience explode with delight.
If there is a pantheon to which the absolute titans of British comedy belong, Mayall is there, well deserving of his place alongside Cleese and Cook and Milligan. There are many people who do comedy - there are only a few in whom comedy flows and throbs and lives, for whom the ability to make people laugh is less a skill than a vital organ. Laughter is their blood and their marrow and the air in their lungs. Rik Mayall was as great an example of this as there has ever been. Those who knew him were as much in awe of his gobsmacking talent as those who watched him from their lounges.
This lunatic clown, this breakneck grotesque, this bizarre, shrieking, demented, glorious creature. He was as clever and as idiotic and as absurd and as insightful and as rude and as revolting and as childish and as charming as he ever needed to be, because he knew how to be funny the way a tree knows how to grow. When the world could seem grey, Rik Mayall crashed into it like an explosion in a paint factory. When all around seemed enslaved to sameness, Rik Mayall could've had his portrait in the dictionary next to "different".
The characters he played were ridiculous, bigger and madder than life, but they reflected what he represented as a performer. Rick from the Young Ones aspired to anarchism, but Rik, in the Young Ones, embodied it, the spirit of lawless riot in the comedy world. Rik was Lord Flashheart, the most interesting and magnetic person in any room, making people cheer when he arrived, winning hearts and inspiring hero worship through his charisma and daring. Rik was Drop Dead Fred, the naughty child in everyone, the mischievous imp breaking the rules, smashing the conventions, doing what respectable folk never would for the sake of a laugh. Rik was Alan B'stard, reaching the top of the tree by dominating the duller, less imaginative minds around him. Rik was Adonis Cnut, simply better at everything than everyone else. And Rik was Mad Gerald, inhabiting an insane world of his own and doing his own thing regardless of what was happening in the world around him.
I'm not sure there's anything more beautiful than a life lived to make people laugh. The heartbreak when such a life ends - it is hard to bear. But when someone's life has created joy, that joy is indelible - it doesn't end when the life does. The great consolation of mortality is that we can leave behind magic: Rik has gone too soon, but we'll never lose him. The People's Poet can never die.
I hope when he went, he knew how happy he'd made us.