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A response to the Edinburgh Fringe Funniest Joke Award

Posted Mon 19th Aug 2019 at 22:21 by Helen Robbins

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"I keep randomly shouting out 'Broccoli' and 'Cauliflower' - I think I might have florets".

 

This is the joke that recently made headlines.  The one liner was told by Swedish comedian Olaf Falafel and it was awarded 'funniest joke of the Fringe prize'.

Many people in the TS community contacted us to express how tired they are of hearing Tourettes - yet again -being used as the punchline for cheap gags.  It's not the first time that Tourettes has been used as a comedy device, and we're sure - for now anyway - that it won't be the last. 

We publically responded on BBC online, and have since seen a flurry of emails, tweets and messages (adorned with expletives) from outraged individuals who feel that we are wrong for speaking up and taking a stand for the TS community. 

Can you imagine how intellectually stimulating social media would be if people could openly share their opposing views without vitriol?  Yes, we complained that the Edinburgh Fringe joke reinforces stereotypes about Tourettes, and questioned why this is OK. Many who disagreed with us seemed incapable of sharing their point of view without using derogative language and hateful tones, not to mention disproportianate use of swear words (how original).

The issue here is context - who said the joke, and to what end. Would the joke be funny and harmless if someone with TS had said it amongst friends - probably yes, although technically speaking it's still a pretty unsophisticated joke.  Would the joke have been funny and harmless if the Fringe comedian had TS - maybe yes, maybe no. Perhaps what was upsetting for many people was the casual way Tourettes was used as a punchline, without any context. It seemed that so many people failed to see the undertones of the reinforced stereotype and it is exactly this which is the insidious problem. It's all too easy to brush it off, shout 'it's political correctness gone mad' or in our case have people tell us that we're - quote on quote -  "f@!$ing killing comedy through your pathetic comments on f@!$ing Fringe f@!$ing joke."

The issue remains that Tourette Syndrome is extremely stigmatised, and people suffer at the misunderstanding and mocking made by people who just see it as some sort of joke, because that's what the media tells them.

So although we appreciate that some people would have found the joke offensive, and some not, and that all opinions are valid; if we don't raise our voice and continue to hold public figures and institutions to account, how can we hope for change?

 

Comedian and writer, Adrian Reynolds has written a very funny and insightful blog in reponse to the Edinburgh Fringe Joke Award.  To read it please follow this link: https://iswearitisnttrue.com/2019/08/19/just-a-joke/

 


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