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  • Translator: Thành H. Châu Reviewer: Ellen Maloney

  • Good afternoon, everything all good?

  • (Audience) Yeah!

  • Lovely.

  • We're all storytellers at different points in our lives.

  • We've all told stories in different ways in different scenarios.

  • Whether you've been a parent telling a child a bed time story

  • in a desperate bid to make them go to sleep,

  • whether you've been a friend telling a friend

  • about another friend's drunken antic at the weekend

  • to make yourself seem slightly less embarrassed.

  • Or whether you've been at a party telling a story

  • to try and impress the red-head in the corner

  • and you regale a tale about this time you were very witty and snappy,

  • and this verbal encounter you had with another person.

  • But you weren't really that funny or snappy in reality,

  • you only thought of comebacks on the way home,

  • but she doesn't need to know that.

  • She's on her third martini, she's ready to go.

  • We all tell stories in different ways as well.

  • When my dad tells stories he's straight to the point.

  • It's all the facts, no frills.

  • This happened, this happened then this happened,

  • therefore this happened.

  • Moral of this story is:

  • Don't drink tequila with your mother otherwise you happen.

  • (Laughter)

  • When my mum tells a story, she likes to have all the extra details,

  • all the back stories, all the character biographies

  • and by the end, it's been like a nine-hour version of Inception.

  • You're not sure what's happened

  • you just know apparently someone your mum works with is a bit of a cow.

  • (Laughter)

  • When my grandparents tell stories

  • they tell stories the way old people tell stories.

  • They're very humble, don't like to brag.

  • It's always stuff like: "Oh, and then I got my medal

  • from Winston Churchill

  • for saving all those orphans, but enough about me, how's school?

  • Children are the opposite.

  • When my brothers tell stories, they do the thing all children do

  • which is they have so much enthusiasm and excitement

  • that they promise a story that's never going to live up to your expectations.

  • "And then what happened?" "And then we went outside."

  • "And then what happened?" "Then Matthew was here."

  • "Then what happened?" "Then he farted."

  • "Great."

  • 90% of stories my brothers have told me

  • has always ended with an unpleasant bodily function.

  • Everyone is a storyteller, even in the media:

  • television, newspapers, tabloids, podcasts, music, artists.

  • Everything's a different way of telling a story.

  • I tell stories differently as well.

  • I'm a comedian.

  • I tell stories that are punchy, jokey, all the way through in order to keep

  • an audiences ever-shortening attention span solely focus on me.

  • I tell true stories, I tell exaggerated stories,

  • I tell stories that are completely and utterly made up. Total lies.

  • Like, I'll have been sitting with my friends, having a drink,

  • and one of them'll say something like:

  • "Ah, wouldn't it be funny if this happened?"

  • And I'll think to myself:

  • "Yeah, that would be funny."

  • And then I shamelessly take it down in my iPhone.

  • Take it home. Write out. And somehow integrate myself into this story

  • so I'd become a hero,

  • so I can then go out on stage

  • in front of a room full of strangers,

  • in a desperate bid to get them to like me.

  • (Laughter)

  • Because that's all a comedian is.

  • We're desperate storytellers.

  • All we do is go out to a room full of people we've never met

  • and beg them to like us.

  • So if at any point you're wondering why I agreed to do this talk,

  • that's why.

  • (Laughter)

  • And also because my mum told me

  • that if I turn down the opportunity to do a TEDTalk,

  • she'd put me up for adoption.

  • I'm 22 years old, I don't know how she'd go about that,

  • but it's best not to argue with her when she's been drinking.

  • You see that?

  • That was a perfect example. I made that entirely up,

  • just so half of you went: "Ha"

  • (Laughter)

  • I was willing to fabricate a story about my mother

  • being an alcoholic with an emotional problem

  • who was willing to disown me as a human being

  • just so 50 of you went: "Very good."

  • (Laughter)

  • That's what I mean by "desperate storyteller".

  • And the thing is we're the only storytellers, though,

  • that really get in trouble for our stories.

  • Every few weeks there is something in the newspaper

  • about this comedian that said something awful or offensive

  • that's offended one member of the audience

  • who, by the way, nine times out of ten, is an idiot.

  • And then they talk about it on the news and everything.

  • They get scientists and doctors to come on and analyse the joke,

  • interview the traumatized audience member, and then they all sit down

  • and discuss, at length, a joke

  • which lasted one minute in an hour-long set

  • and we all sit patiently

  • and wait for the officials to tell us whether we were offended or not.

  • And then at the end of it, they decide that we're offended.

  • Perhaps the comedian shouldn't talk about rape or murder,

  • those sort of things on stage,

  • that they shouldn't be broadcast in a household

  • and we all feel quite good about ourselves.

  • Then switch over to Eastenders or True Blood

  • where there are scenes of murder, sexual audacity, drug abuse,

  • racially invoked crimes and we all go: "This is amazing!"

  • Why is it different?

  • How come when a comedian says something as a joke,

  • it's offensive?

  • But when it's acted out in front of you,

  • it's intriguing, it's a twist.

  • Actors are never criticized or abused for their roles in films.

  • Nobody came out of "Inglorious Bastards" going:

  • "Oh, I can't believe Christopher Waltz killed all those Jewish people.

  • What an awful man!"

  • Nobody came out Harry Potter thinking: "You know what?

  • I never trusted Snape.

  • Not since he had that awful German accent and tried to kill John McClane.

  • (Laughter)

  • There you go.

  • People don't get upset because they know it's fake.

  • They know the actors on stage are just portraying characters.

  • So are comedians.

  • That's our job,

  • We're storytellers but we're also so vain

  • that we like to put ourselves in the stories.

  • We're the writers, directors, and stars of our own show

  • where we're just playing an exaggerated parody of ourselves.

  • Because we're not going to be ourselves onstage.

  • We might play a version of ourselves. But we can't be our true selves.

  • If we were to come on stage and talk to you about our real opinions

  • with balanced, thought-through points, we wouldn't be comedians,

  • we would be politicians and you'd hate us even more.

  • Right?

  • When we come on stage, we have to find ways to make you laugh

  • and our way of doing that is to come out

  • and say something completely stupid and ludicrous

  • to make you laugh.

  • Another method of doing it is to take a completely, utterly,

  • point that no one would agree with,

  • something very obscure and blatantly wrong

  • and find a way to twist it round

  • and make it seem valid just for a second.

  • For example, if I were to make the statement:

  • "I don't think children should smoke."

  • Everyone in this room would agree with it, yeah?

  • But if i were to come out on stage and say:

  • "I think every child under the age of 13

  • should be forced to smoke four packs of cigarettes a day

  • because as my brothers are getting older,

  • it turns out they're very close to being able to beat me in a foot race.

  • That's a way of turning it around.

  • You're not laughing at the fact that I'm trying to kill my brothers.

  • You're laughing at me for being an idiot for thinking that's a good idea. OK?

  • And that's what we do with our comedy.

  • We're playing stupid versions of ourselves. For example,

  • if Ricky Gervais, Frankie Boyle, or Jimmy Carr

  • were actually as big as

  • the bigoted, racist, fascist, homophobic, sexists

  • that the Daily Mail made them out to be,

  • they would probably end up working for the Daily Mail.

  • (Laughter)

  • They're making the stuff up to get that reaction from you.

  • The reason I mentioned those names - Frankie Boyle, Ricky Gervais, Jimmy Carr -

  • is they're the names commonly associated with "offensive comedy."

  • The reason I put offensive comedy in inverted commas there

  • isn't because I'm young and hip,

  • it's because, basically, I don't really get the term "offensive comedy."

  • No comedian wants to offend you, that's not our job.

  • Our job is to make you laugh,

  • make you think,

  • make you smile, make you want to sleep with us

  • so that our night in that hotel room is slightly less depressing.

  • (Laughter)

  • Not to upset you in any way, shape, form.

  • Because, the thing about it is when comedians are telling these stories,

  • it's to get any form of a reaction out of you.

  • And Jimmy Carr, famously, was in trouble recently.

  • He made a joke about the Paralympics.

  • He made a joke that our troops in Iraq were getting injured

  • but at least that would make us have a good Paralympic team.

  • And people went mental.

  • People were so upset.

  • If you were to believe the tabloids, trains stopped on the track

  • so that people could get off in order to vomit

  • at how disgusted they were by this joke.

  • People killed themselves, they were so disgusted by what he said.

  • Alright? That's not the case.

  • The only people who were not offended by that joke?

  • The war veterans,

  • who found it hysterical.

  • They thought it was great. They repeated to each other.

  • So if they weren't offended by that joke,

  • who's got the right to be offended?

  • People have developed an amazing new ability recently.

  • People can be offended on behalf of other people.

  • You can't be offended on behalf of someone.

  • Feelings are non-transferable.

  • You can't be a husband standing beside a wife giving birth going:

  • "Don't worry, honey. I'm feeling pain on behalf of you."

  • She would beat you to death.

  • (Laughter)

  • Nobody asked these people to be offended on behalf of them.

  • They just did it themselves.

  • They jumped in front of a bullet that was heading towards a tree.

  • Alright? It was a blatantly stupid sacrifice they never needed to make.

  • It's amazing.

  • One of the other topics, one of the most controversial ones last year,

  • was that Frankie Boyle

  • made his comment about Katie Price and her family.

  • Regardless of your opinions on the joke, which everyone will be divided on,

  • don't pay that in context, you have to understand

  • that Frankie Boyle made those jokes

  • about Katie Price.

  • Not to her.

  • About her.

  • He made that joke onstage in front of a room full of people

  • who were fully expecting him to make that sort of comment.

  • It wasn't until the newspapers phoned up Katie Price

  • and repeated that joke to her several times

  • in order to get a reaction.

  • That's when she knew about it.

  • I am fully aware

  • that there are many people out there in the world

  • who don't like me,

  • who say mean things about me everyday,

  • but I'd rather not know.

  • OK?

  • If you came up to me and you told me that there was a man I'd never met before

  • who was saying horrible things about me

  • and you then listed the awful things he said about me to my face,

  • you're the bad guy.

  • That person has the right to say whatever he wants about me.

  • I've never met him but he can say what he wants, that's his right.

  • It wasn't until you told me that I knew it was going on.

  • You've turned it into a personal attack.

  • Mostly when comedians are making jokes about

  • these celebrities and celebrity culture,

  • it's no different from stuff you hear from friends.

  • The banter we have every day with our mates

  • about some celebrity on television that we don't particularly like.

  • Are you trying to suggest that celebrities

  • don't know they're ridiculed by the general public?

  • That Katie Price thinks that Frankie Boyle

  • is the only comedian that doesn't respect her life choices?

  • No, of course.

  • We're just individuals, willing to risk going onstage, saying

  • what everyone else down the pub is saying on a Friday night.