Friday, 29 February 2008

On Comedy: What a BEEP-in' Post!

Now there's a couple of videos that are floating around the internet from the Jimmy Kimmel show... you know what I'm talking about. Well here they are.

Now what makes those videos funny, outside of the celebrities in absurd positions and not-so-latent homoeroticism?

It's the BEEP.

Yep, that innocuous little tone that is used to cover up that magical old Anglo-Saxon word so as not to offend the br
oadcast TV audience is what makes that video.

Now I can go on and on about the history of "offencive" language and open up the floor to debate on whether or not words can be considered offencive at all... but that's not what I'm here to talk about.

I'm here to talk about the beep.

Without the beep the sketches would lose something. They would just be songs about f*cking Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. It's the beep that takes the sketches over that line from amusing to funny.

The beep has a lot of weight for a simple noise. Buried in it are undertones about censorship, social mores, and the hypocrisy of the media; who rush to the lowest common denominator, while condemning it at the
same time. It also has a giggle inducing sense of child-like naughtiness, while showing just how absurd the whole concept of "offencive language" really is.

Now there are those who say that censorship is bad for comedy, and yet, those sketches used censorship to boost the laugh quotient. It's a double edged sword, sure you want to push buttons in a direct and open
way, but there's also a wealth of material to be had by subverting the modes of censorship to make comedy as well.

But there's another use for the beep.

As that grand theoretician of comedy, Krusty the Clown, said comedy is not just dirty words.

It's words that sound dirty.

Humour comes from issues that are often uncomfortable to discuss in polite conversation. Sex, death, politics, and various and sundry bodily functions.

Using the conventions of censorship, as personified by the beep, you can turn something as innocuous as a song from Sesame Street about counting and turn it into a raunchy, button pushing little video, without actually adding anything dirty.

Don't take my word for it, watch it...

Do you see my point?


So in closing, BLEEP.


  1. Oh lord, I couldn't stop laughing with that last video! I'm glad I saw the first two to realize how powerful it was of the censor button. Again but it was the last one that stopped me breathing for a second as I could not stop laughing!

    The kids would be scratching their heads with that one, but adults? Oh boy...

  2. Yeah, bleeps are funny. A singing video telling the recipent that he's being cheated on, not so much.

    What is with guys? Laughing at other guys getting kicked in the balls, losing their girls, being pushed around by smarter women.

    The new century male. No pride, no guts, no clue.

  3. It's something Bill Waterson knew very well: Left to the reader/viewer imagination, a joke will be much funnier than anything you can come up with. Not the least because, IMHO, everyone has their own tastes in humor.

    Thus, while a punchline might make some laugh, and others cringe; a SUGGESTED punchline will make everyone laugh because then they fill in the blank with what appeals to them most.

    Though as with everything... timing is important.

  4. BTW, how can you have this post without any of Jimmy's Unnessary Censorship clips?

  5. This happens with the Muzak at my work. The sound occasionally (but not frequently) drops out for a brief moment--and it sounds like they're censoring obscenities that aren't really there.

    "I'll stop the world and ____ with you..."

    "Her name is Rio and she ___ses on the sand..."

    "I guess you're just what I needed / I needed someone to ____..."

    "And she's _______ like she's never ______ before..."