I was that soldier boy...

Anything relevant

I was that soldier boy...

Postby bilbobaglin » 06 Aug 2015, 12:40

So it finally happened. This week I was booked to do two days of shows at the National Eisteddfod of Wales, six shows over two days on the Welsh Government stall, (all in Welsh) and a free trip to the largest travelling cultural festival in Europe. This was all done on personal recommedations from people who had seen me perform in Welsh at other events. So far so good.

Image

Day one All went well, I arrived early to set up, found my contact, got the lay of the land and my show times. Even got lent one of their fabulous radio mics (much better than my cheap although workable Chinese thing). Weather wasn't great but we had an indoor area with a small stage so folk could shelter from the rain and be entertained. We had some officials from the governement and other organisations in all very complimentary. We were good to go. And three shows and lots of happy punters (and staff) later, I made sure my contact was happy and didn't require anything else of me and wound my way home.

Day two. Being a stall for the Welsh Government each day would have various AMs (Assembly Member) dropping in to show face (can you see where this is going?). Today's AM made a fabulous first impression by immediately approaching a stand with all the Welsh Cabinet's pictures on it and moving her own image to the top rank (and moving someone else's to the bottom in the process, there was only room for so many in each row). Mutterings were made at the appearance of the booth in the corner, but the first show was scheduled very early so went ahead as planned. Again, lots of happy faces and nice comments from children and adults alike, the AM was nowhere to be seen during this.

Ready, here we go.
Between the two shows a very brow beaten contact (she was only young, not long out of college) approached me.

"I don't know if you've noticed but we have AM <name> here today."

Yes, I had noticed and wasn't impressed, not that I said that.

"She is a bit concerned about any depictions of domestic abuse between Punch and Siwan (Judy), she would like to be certain that Mr Punch doesn't hit Siwan at any point."

I am not daft and am very aware of where I am performing and who is paying me, I have trimmed my sail accordingly. I gently remind the poor girl that although there is some slapstick (it's a Punch and Judy show) at no time over the previous four shows has Punch hit Siwan with or without a stick. All bashing is between Punch and Joey, Punch and the Policeman, and Punch and the Devil. (Did the AM not watch my show? Surely she wouldn't be criticising without seeing it would she? That's not how decent people behave is it?)

"She is also concerned that Siwan doesn't hit Punch, as domestic abuse does happen the other way too."

No sh*t, Sherlock. I will admit that I sometimes have Siwan or Judy teach Mr Punch a lesson for being naughty with the baby (the baby goes in a bin rather than out of the window though, and turns up eventually asleep in bed), but again I know where I am and have avoided this leaving justice to the Wrong Arm of the Law. (Can it be that an AM is seeking to make some small political gain from casting aspersions upon a show they haven't seen based on preconcieved stereotypes and notions?)

So show five rolls around Young contact is now clearly hectored and slightly flustered (bullied?) consequently she has asked me if there is any way of removing the slapstick. I know people on here have strong opinions on this but I know it is not this girls fault so I am sympathetic but I feel that slapstick is already at a minimum to be funny, and there are lots of other non-slap routines in the half hour show. Thankfully AM beats a sharp exit before it begins, and I go ahead.

However, and this is the point where you may judge me if you wish, I spot her nip back in just at the end of the Crocodile routine. Joey reappears with his frying pan to find the sausages gone. Now normally here Mr Punch would get the blame and they sing a song "Ten fat sausages" and upon "bang" Punch gets a smack with the frying pan, he turns the tables on Joey eventually but can't seem to get the better of him. It is a very funny sketch (not pride, feedback). And I cut it.

I cut it because she was there, and went straight into the calling for Siwan instead. Is this self-censorshiop or common sense?

Once the AM saw that Siwan was about to appear she beat another sharp exit (lest she see something that contradicted her pre-conception, perhaps?). Any how, the rest of the show continued as normal and we ended up with another batch of satisfied customers, both children and adults.

So guess, go on, just guess what happened next.
Young and harrassed approached me after the show.

"The AM has made a complaint and brought it to the attention of another AM."

Not directly against me I believe but more along the lines of the government should not be seen to be promoting domestic violence. Said to Young and Harrassed and not to me so, no right of reply.

"Would it be possible to have a magic show for the next one."

Yes, of course, I was always prepared to do both. My charges for events like these are usually per show, what that show entails, magic or Punch, is usually decided upon by demand/pragmatism. Punch was preferred for most so that's what I did, until this. So to help this poor lassie out I was happy to do that, I did feel terribly sorry for her. We derigged the booth early and ended with a magic show, which although entertaining, is not I will freely admit up to the standard of the Punch, and certainly nowhere near as funny.

So that was my first encounter with the I've not watched it yet have an opinion on it brigade not to mention the It's not suitable platoon. What I would like from you, now I've had chance to vent my spleen, is an answer if you will to some questions.

    Was I correct to self-censor like that?
    Has this or similar happended to you? (I suspect a big yes).
    Should I seek a right to reply?

Thank you.
----------------
Professor Llusern
http://professorllusern.wordpress.com
bilbobaglin
Chipolata
Chipolata
 
Posts: 22
Joined: 30 Mar 2014, 00:09
Location: North Wales

Re: I was that soldier boy...

Postby lesclarke » 06 Aug 2015, 21:42

I will jump in because I am in just that sort of a mood...

Censorship is a nasty thing, and should be kept to an absolute minimum in a free society.
We are very lucky after all to live in one of the most free societies

I have always liked Glyn Edwards' standard reply that 'Punch & Judy no more promotes domestic vlolence than wine gums promote alcoholism'

Censor Punch & Judy, what next burn all the books of traditional European folk tales in our libraries.

I had an enquiry quite recently from a top british brand company, they were very keen to have Punch at their family day, then a second email with concerns over the content. I replied saying that 'the show is the show', ..and includes tradtional knockabout slapstick comedy' ..and never heard from them again. No great loss.

I will give you my advice, which however I do not expect you to take, as I find that people very rarely take advice!

In your position I can see why you did exactly as you did, my only suggestion is that you put it on record to the organisation you dealt with that you think they were out of order and do not accept in any way their points,
...and go on to state that you had hoped that such ill founded supposedly politically correct attacks were a thing of the past, and throw in the word CENSORSHIP.

If you let this go without a challenge it gives support to those wishing to censor our cultural tradition.
As if I haven't got enough to do today, with all I've got to do today.
User avatar
lesclarke
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 758
Joined: 14 Sep 2006, 17:12
Location: Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

Re: I was that soldier boy...

Postby Chris » 07 Aug 2015, 11:59

When an act is booked it is booked "as known". In other words the buyers have a right to get the performance they have seen before, or that has been recommended, the one you regularly perform and are known for. If you were to turn up with something else the booker could reasonably complain.
On the other hand if they decide they no longer want the act they have booked they have the option to cancel in which case they should still pay the full fee.
You were quite correct to offer a magic show as an alternative. You were probably wrong to censor your Punch show. Presumably you have spent many hours perfecting your script, bits of business etc, selecting, practising, judging reactions and honing your performance. That is the show you should deliver.
Of course it would be another matter if they had requested a non violent show in advance. Then you could plan and rehearse an alternative show if you wanted.
As it was despite cutting stuff out you still were subject to a complaint, so you might as well have given the audience the extra laugh anyway.
As to whether it has happened to me. Well, in 50 years performing Punch I can only remember a couple of occasions when I have been asked if I would perform something other than Punch. I have never had a complaint from anyone who has watched the show. I have once myself cancelled a booking for a school funday because the head mistress tried to dictate rules in advance and I sensed trouble. I have had plenty of remarks such as "I was surprised to see Punch and Judy - I thought it had been banned." The Press have done a pretty good job of stirring the PC pot regarding Punch, but thankfully the majority of people are on the side of common sense.
So I think you have just been unlucky. Perhaps the problem was the location, a government stand(?) and at the National Eisteddfod.
I'll perhaps tell my experiences performing at the National - one day.
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3260
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Re: I was that soldier boy...

Postby Chris » 09 Aug 2015, 22:24

Sometimes we imagine these attacks on Punch are the result of US imported political correctness, but actually they have always gone on. After all, doesn't the Mayhew punch man mention trouble with the clergy because of the inclusion of the devil in the show? I've just been reading a item from "Everybody's Weekly" . in which it is reported that "Middlesex County Council have decided not to let Punch and Judy appear in Willesden Park during the summer holidays. 'The show is not proper' said one Councillor. 'Children learn from it to delight in violence and fighting' " The magazine in question was published in 1946. You would have thought that mere months after the end of the 2nd World War our politicians might have been expected to have a more realistic idea of what really caused violence and fighting.
So your Welsh AM was just carrying on a glorious tradition of ignorant comment.
It's good to squawk!
Image
User avatar
Chris
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3260
Joined: 05 Jul 2006, 11:13
Location: North Wales

Re: I was that soldier boy...

Postby bilbobaglin » 10 Aug 2015, 00:02

Thanks for your kind words. I feel much better.
----------------
Professor Llusern
http://professorllusern.wordpress.com
bilbobaglin
Chipolata
Chipolata
 
Posts: 22
Joined: 30 Mar 2014, 00:09
Location: North Wales

Re: I was that soldier boy...

Postby lesclarke » 10 Aug 2015, 10:29

I believe that a fair bit of PC rubbish is directly linked to certain personality types, it is not right to simply label these people as idiots, though that is what they are.

They are usually in some sort of minor or middle authority position, and a their approach seems to be that if they spot a potential problem, then they can alert people to this and that will show how smart they are.

However when this is combined with an over zealous attitude and a lack of Common Sense they spot 'problems' which do not exist, and get things totally out of perspective, after all on the face of it, what could potentially have more of an effect in encouraging domestic abuse Punch shows or the many hours of our soaps broadcast each week?

I regard these attacks on Punch as very much a form of vanity, they think they are smarter than everyone else, so I would define them as vain idiots, with little understanding of human nature.

We must censor as little as possible in a free society, I turn off Eastenders if I ever hear the first few notes of the theme tune, the amount of aggro, presented in a realistic way, no actually it is an exaggerated style, is not my idea of entertainment, I make that choice purely because I don't find it entertaining.

I wouldn't like to guess how many children grow up from tiny tots on an almost nightly diet of Eastenders Aggro, but does this affect them badly?

Who can say, probably not. Perhaps it shows them how nasty inner city life can be, and makes them think that we should treat each other better, the same process takes place in Punch shows and the kids often make it clear they think has gone too far and should behave himself, treat the baby better etc.

Eastenders and Punch shows are both dramas which present both sides of any aggressive situation depicted, I believe that knockabout-wooden-headed-puppet silliness, presented with a sense of absurdity cannot be seriously be regarded as a potential bad influence on youngsters, I am a bit less sure of some of the content of the Soaps, but then when I think about it I don't believe they can have much actual effect on the actual attitudes and behaviour of youngsters.
As if I haven't got enough to do today, with all I've got to do today.
User avatar
lesclarke
Joey's Jewels
Joey's Jewels
 
Posts: 758
Joined: 14 Sep 2006, 17:12
Location: Huddersfield, West Yorkshire


Return to Punch Chat

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 2 guests

cron