ISLAM AND HUMOUR – PART 2 – STEWART LEE’S ANTI-ISLAMIC STAND-UP

Following on from a previous blog post about Islam and humour

Stewart Lee is one of the best British stand-ups around. His recent show at the Edinburgh Fringe, A Room With A Stew, was critically acclaimed almost universally.

Below is a clip from one of his earlier stand up shows, Carpet Remnant World, where he amusingly and intelligently tackles the subject of Islam from the perspective of stand-up comedy.

The full 2 hour show is currently available here, and the 2 specific parts of the show transcribed below are here and here. Enjoy!



Anyway, that’s enough making fun of America and the West. It’s time now to mock Islam and to ridicule individual Muslims.

(LAUGHTER)

People are very keen on that now in comedy. There was a big piece in the Daily Mail in December by Jan Moir saying there’s not enough anti-Islamic stand-up in Britain at the moment. Of course, they’re very keen on balance at the Daily Mail. It’s been a watch-word of the paper going way back to the 1930s.

(MILD LAUGHTER)

I know, it’s a good joke. No one gets it.

(LAUGHTER)

So…it’s an occupational hazard of stand-up now if you do a joke about anything and you don’t immediately follow it up with a joke about Islam.

People are like “What’s wrong with you?”

These are the kind of e-mails you get. This sort of thing.

“Dear BBC, I enjoyed Stewart Lee’s making fun of Chris Moyles on TV last night and I look forward to him mocking the Prophet Mohammed in the same way next week.”

(LAUGHTER)

“Yours, Norris McWhirter.”

(LAUGHTER)

“Nuremberg.”

(LAUGHTER)

Another one here. “Dear BBC, I enjoyed watching Stewart Lee making jokes about crisps last night, but I doubt we will be seeing him having a go at any Muslim snacks in the near future.”

(LAUGHTER)

“On the politically correct BBC, it appears there’s one law for crisps…”

(LAUGHTER)

“…and quite another for those mini poppadom things that they sell in Marks & Spencer’s.”

(LAUGHTER)

“Yours, Norris McWhirter”

(LAUGHTER)

“Argentina.”

Yeah. Well, it’s a later postmark. So, erm…I know, they don’t get it…it’s time…

(LAUGHTER)

So time to ridicule a Muslim now, in accordance with the Daily Mail’s demands, and the Muslim we’re gonna be ridiculing tonight is called Mohammed al-Qubaisi. He’s from Dubai, he’s one of the top Muslim guys out there.

(LAUGHTER)

Yeah, people down there are laughing at that, as well they should because, of course, in Islam, there is no pyramid power structure.

(LAUGHTER)

So succession of Imams, er, Imams, all with equal power, so the idea of a top Muslim is…haha.

(LAUGHTER)

Now, anyway this is what he said. Mohammed al-Qubaisi about Bin Laden being buried at sea. He said, “They can say they buried him at sea, but they cannot say they did it according to Islam. Sea burials are permissible for Muslims in extraordinary circumstances only, and this is not one of them.”

(LAUGHTER)

Let’s have a quick recap on those circumstances.

(LAUGHTER)

Osama Bin Laden was shot in the face at point blank range in front of his family after a possibly illegal American incursion into Pakistani airspace following a 10-year campaign to bring him to justice for flying two hijacked, fully-laden passenger aircraft into the World Trade Center killing literally thousands and thousands of people. What has made this Mohammed al-Qubaisi so jaded…

(LAUGHTER)

…that this does not fit his definition of extraordinary circumstances? What a jaded, jaded man, Sheffield. Not the sort of man you’d wanna have to organise a surprise birthday party for.

(LAUGHTER)

So that’s a Muslim ridiculed. Time now for some anti-Islamic stand-up. Jan Moir in the Daily Mail says there’s not enough stand-up about Islam. There’s loads, actually, if you think about it. There’s Roy “Chubby” Brown, your spiritual king in this region. He, er…

(LAUGHTER)

He goes round and round doing loads. And Tim Minchin’s done stuff about Islam to stadiums full of people. Of course there’s dozens of British comics of an Islamic background talking about it all the time, night after night. So I think really there’s so much stand-up about Islam, I don’t really know what to bring to the table, so what I’ve been trying to do on this tour is something that has not been done before, I’ve been trying to do observational comedy. Yeah. That’s kind of BBC One, ITV One, sort of “Oh, look at that,” kind of stuff.

(LAUGHTER)

I’ve been trying to do observational comedy of a specifically anti-Islamic bent. Yeah. Anti-Islamic observational comedy. I’ve had some good reviews for that. You know, people going, “Brilliant! Like an Islamophobic Michael McIntyre!” That was good. “Superb! The John Bishop of cultural relativism.”

(LAUGHTER)

So, here we are now, Sheffield, with some anti-Islamic observational comedy. Anti-Islamic observational comedy. Observational comedy.

(RUNS AROUND ON STAGE IN A STYLE MOCKING MICHAEL MCINTYRE. MOVES THE MICROPHONE STAND FROM PLACE TO PLACE. RUNS AROUND SOME MORE. DOES THIS IN SILENCE FOR A FEW MINUTES, OCCASIONALLY SIGHING. AUDIENCE LAUGHTER THROUGHOUT)

Have you seen these Muslims they have now?

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

That’s the end of that bit.

(LAUGHTER)

People up there are going, “Ooh, now it’s picking up.”

(LAUGHTER)

I’ve got three, erm, anti-Islamic one-liners now that I’m hoping to sell on to Roy “Chubby” Brown. Here they are.

(IMITATING BROWN)

“Hey, you know, one in two kids born in Britain today is called Mohammad. And that’s just the girls. (TRAILING OFF) I’ve not got the exact figures.”

(LAUGHTER)

(IMITATING BROWN)

“Did you know one in two Islamic hate preachers in Britain today has got a hook for his hands and a bad…(TRAILING OFF) I’ve done no research.”

(LAUGHTER)

(IN HIS OWN VOICE)

Do you know one in two people claiming to be a spokesperson for the entire British-Muslim community is, in fact, the unelected leader of a non-democratic special-interest fringe group given ideas above its station by a misguided New Labour community bridge-building initiative?

(LAUGHTER)

Some laughs. A lot of people going, “What was that? What was that supposed to be?”

(LAUGHTER)

I’ll tell you what that was, my come-in-error friends, that was the best joke about Islam in Britain anyone has ever done. That’s what that was. It was even-handed. It was informed. It’s what you say you want, isn’t it? You go, “Do stuff about Islam!” I just did. “Not like that, Stew…”

(LAUGHTER)

“…Not where you have to know anything…”

(LAUGHTER)

“…When we said do stuff about Islam, we meant make fun of their hats.”

(LAUGHTER)

What can I do? I got nothing. You know, I drive around. I look after kids. I got nothing. But fair enough, for not laughing at that. It’s an edgy subject. It makes people uncomfortable. You’re thinking “Where is this going?” If you got stuff that makes people uncomfortable what they say on the comedy courses now, they say, take the curse off it. Take the edge off it. Personalise it, yeah? Make it personal to you. So I was walking around with my son, who’s real.

(LAUGHTER)

I walking around where I live with my son and there was a Muslim lady coming on the road towards us. It’s a very cosmopolitan area, where I live in London, very cosmopolitan area.

(MILD LAUGHTER)

No, it is. My, er…

(LAUGHTER)

My dentist…It’s a very cosmopolitan area. My dentist is actually a lesbian.

(LAUGHTER)

At least, I assume she’s a lesbian because, er, she had me out under general anaesthetic and when I came around, I hadn’t been sexually assaulted…

(LAUGHTER)


…Anyway, I was walking along where I live with my son. He’s 4 years old. There’s a Muslim lady coming towards us. Full burka, just her eyes showing and my son, he’s 4. He meant nothing by this. He looked at her and then he said to me, “Is that a ghost?” Right? I thought, “What are you gonna say? What am I gonna say?” So I said to him, “No, it isn’t a ghost. It’s a lady. She’s religious and she believes in God and she believes that God wants her to cover her face.” I thought, “That’s all right, say that.” And then my son said, “Why?”

(LAUGHTER)

It was at that point that I realised I’d reached the limit of my knowledge of Islam.

(LAUGHTER)

Don’t really know any more about it than that, and the killings and stuff, and neither do you, do you? You don’t know anything about it either. Even those of you of an Islamic background are normally quite hazy…

(LAUGHTER)

…about the details when pressed. And that’s why it’s so difficult to do jokes with any real depth on the subject. Because there isn’t really enough of a shared collective pool of knowledge between performer and audience to be able to move off the most obvious areas really. So stop sending me your stupid fucking e-mails.

(LAUGHTER)


 – Stewart Lee, from his stand-up show Carpet Remnant World

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