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Woked to Death?

Alistair Williams


Brexit in a Burger King

The comedian Alistair Williams does a live set comparing Brexit to being trapped in a Burger King.

Williams explains how leaving the Burger King is impossible without a deal, even though in theory they could just go out the door. They must negotiate.

The post-modern subtext of being stuck in a fast-food multinational negotiating your freedom of movement is funny on its own, but online Williams overlays text with the gag.  

In essence, the knowing laughter from the crowd betrays the reality we find ourselves in, woked to death in 2020. We are all in on the joke. Well most of us.

Williams makes the point that in Britain today, a comedian who makes such a transgressing joke will not find meaningful work again. Get too close to the truth and the louder the laughter will roar and more bitter the woke will cry. And punish. It is unlikely you will see Williams on a TV comedy panel in the coming years. Wokeness is establishment.

George Carlin, Bill Hicks and the Public Discourse

It says a lot about the state of our public discourse that comedians can be woke-washed. Too real for reality. Only a generation ago Carlin and Hicks were calling out corporate masters, Hicks going furthest in peering behind the curtain. Without the internet we would not really know what original comedy could be today.

If humour can be a barometer, we see that society is deeply sensitive to certain differences and malleable to a wider agenda. It is also faker. Outrage is the brand we wear, turning a blind eye to our moral decay and collapse of values yet wonder why public services are crumbling. A broken social contract cannot be fixed by more brokenness. 

Comedy can shine a light on our hubris, showing us the beam in our own eye, not feigning to cover over our collective sins. If wokeness can extinguish our ability to laugh at ourselves, is comedy even worth it any more? Maybe that’s the ultimate the idea.

The Future of Free Speech

The soft policing of language and free speech is a major threat to communities throughout the western world. If comedy cannot reserve the right to offend, where does it end? Quis custodes custodiet?

You can bet that in the long run a society that tolerates the erosion of free speech can go after freedom to associate and even freedom to assemble, not just by stealth but directly. All coming to a Burger King near you.

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