Can someone who is offensive as part of their act actually be a good entertainer? When you cast your mind’s eye around you may come up with names such as Roy Chubby Brown or Jim Davidson. But these are acts you choose to go see. What about street entertainers who don’t choose to encounter? You and your children are exposed to them and their offensive brand of unwittingly.
We were in York this past weekend visiting York’s Chocolate Story. We know York is awash with street entertainers, especially on a hot summers day like it was. And we also know that Kings Square, where the chocolate story is located, provides a natural theatre to street entertainers. It was no surprise as we arrive there that one such entertainer was just setting up his act.
What I noticed immediately with this guy, who was European with a possible German/Austrian accent, was his innuendo. For a start, his act is called “MAN WITH BIG BALLS”. But his banter with the assembling audience was peppered with it too. I laughed, I admit it. I found him humorous. Innuendo in itself isn’t wrong and can be funny so I’m not fussed about that.
At one point a couple walking past caught his eye. “Italianos! You want to watch the show again? She held my balls yesterday that Italian woman. That’s why she still smiling 24 hours later.” I have to admit this raised more than a chuckle from the adults in the audience.
One of his footballs rolled away. A Chinese man retrieved it and placed it back where it needed to be. Mr Balls (I don’t really know how else to refer to him) thanks him in what I assume to be Chinese or Mandarin. The Chinese gentleman appeared to correct him in English, but Mr Balls was adamant HE was correct and called the man “the crazy one”. People laughed, I didn’t. I am fairly certain that the Chinese chap has a better grasp of his own language. At worst it was just a misunderstanding and no reason to try and get a laugh from it.
Again, I did laugh at the next one. He approached a gentleman and as if he was French. The man replied that he was not to which Mr Balls retorted “I didn’t think so, you aren’t arrogant enough”. We all know the gag that the French as supposedly arrogant, which I guess made me laugh.
Was it funny?
It’s only afterwards, after talking with Helen and another chap in the chocolate story, that I questioned whether Mr Balls was actually funny.
I’ve given some tame examples of his comedy here. But in the 10 minutes we were watching managed to take a swipe and a good cross-section of the audience. Even I was called out. He wanted a volunteer and Verity put her hand up. As we had just 10 minutes before our slot at the chocolate story I said she couldn’t. He questioned my decision. He asked what time our booking was and then when I told him he accused me of lying. In the end, she ended up taking part as I didn’t want her to be upset or embarrassed.
We only saw the 10 minutes or so of his setup and not his actually ball-balancing-juggling act. I’m sure he was very good at it. But on reflection, I don’t think he was actually that funny.
I’m not one for using insults to make people laugh and I actually feel a little ashamed that I did laugh at a few of his lines.
Am I overreacting? Am I being too sensitive or should I actually be standing up and saying this isn’t okay? I certainly don’t want my girls growing up believing you have to insult people to get a laugh.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Thanks for reading.