To find out, three comedians were asked how they feel about swearing, for a programme about taste and decency on television. Roy “Chubby" Brown, 63-year-old comedian, believes if anyone is responsible for the coarsening of live comedy - bringing the language of a building site on to the stage - it is he. “I started off doing clean material and people were saying to me ,you know you‘re funny mate but you should smut your act up a bit.‘"
He sides with the majority of people who do not want any foul language on their televisions until late at night. “When I was a young lad you could sit with your mum and dad and your sister and you could watch the BBC and there was no blue humour at all," he says. He believes there is a time and place for this type of humour. Anyone choosing to go to one of his live shows, he says, gets plenty of warning to stay away if they are easily offended. But comedians must be able to draw the line.
Be more edgy “When comics are under pressure to be edgy, they‘re as likely to make mistakes as when they‘re under pressure to rein it in," says comedian Al Murray, 40. When he first started doing TV work, he says he was given a note from someone asking him to make the show “more edgy". But he was given no explanation about what this might mean. “I have suffered from an expectation of what I‘m going to do is go on and swear because in my live act I do that. And in fact when I get on television I don‘t swear. It‘s possible to not," Mr Murray says. He adds that the decision of what to talk about is being taken away from comedians by broadcasters.
When it comes to swearing on television, his decision to use colourful language is “very carefully weighed up. It‘s got to be worth it because you‘re in someone‘s home and they‘ve chosen to watch you. It‘s a situation of trust and you don‘t want to abuse that trust," he explains. When quizzed about protecting children from swearing on the TV, comedienne Joan Rivers answers with her own question: “Why doesn‘t everybody have responsibility and take care of their children?" The oldest of the three comedians, Rivers, 75, nevertheless has the most liberal attitude. She believes audiences, rather than broadcasters, should take responsibility for choosing what is suitable to watch on TV. According to Rivers, who began her career in comedy in the straitened 1960s, UK broadcasters are becoming even stricter about language than those in the US.
And she fears the audience watching at home are the ones actually “getting short changed". “What you see on television is truly less and less what I really am in a concert, and that makes me terribly sad," she says. She thinks comedians should have the right to “take people to the edge" but that the audience should not look to performers for “intelligent, serious answers and discussion". “That‘s not what we‘re there for", she says “We are paid to make you laugh and to be silly, and that‘s why you are tuning in to watch us.
O autorovi| BBC, Stránku připravila Marta Pelechová