Taking The Piss

16 11 2011

As a boy, I spent most of my time with other boys. I went to a boys school, so from 8-13, pretty much all of my friendships were male. During that time, I learnt one thing: get a group of good lads together, and the conversation between them will be almost exclusively insults. You will insult one another’s looks, height, masculinity, sexual desires, family history… nothing is sacred.

It shows that you’re mates. It says “Look, we understand each other. None of this is meant or mean. We’re trying to make each other laugh with the sheer inappropriacy of what we’re saying”. Infact, so commonplace is this way that British people –males especially – communicate with one another, it even has a name.

Banter.

Sometimes, if I meet someone and quickly surmise that I like them, I’ll skip straight to insulting them. It shows that I like them, doesn’t it? I know that seems all backwards, but it isn’t. It’s brilliant. It means they get it. And because we both get the joke, we must be getting on as friends. Fantastic.

I think the first time I ever met my wife she said that I was the first presenter she’d ever worked with who looked homeless. It was love at first cuss.

Today, I was asked to record a message for a chap – an absolute stranger – that works at a place I was visiting.We were meant to have met, but instead, very sadly, he was at hospital. He’s previously suffered from a very serious illness and it may not have gone away as everyone had hoped. Supposedly though, he was even more gutted that he’d been called into hospital on the day that I was there, as he’d seen me on Juice and thought I was funny. So, I was asked, would I record him a message so he felt a bit less left out?

My message:  “Where were you, you lazy bastard? You were meant to be running round the woods today ! Instead, you phoned in sick and had a lie down. Get up! Get up, you lazy bastard.” The people there who knew him, who knew his sense of humour, laughed . Pretty fucking hard, as it goes.

Why would I say that to a man who is having to battle a serious illness?

It’s because, illness or no, he’s still a person – not “a patient”. He’s still the person that’s seen me take the piss out of celebrities, friends and strangers on TV and laughed at it. So, why would I treat him differently?

This year, Help for Heroes brought wounded soldiers to the studio where we make Juice. There were three of them, but with fewer arms and legs than you’d normally expect three people to own. They stood there and from the get go, started taking the piss. How gay my moustache was, how big Fearne’s nostrils were, how ginger Keith is in real life…

Later I asked them what the worst part of being so severely injured was. They told me it was that suddenly people around them worried that they had to be treated differently. As though their sense of humour was kept in their legs, and that when they were blown off, so too was their ability to make or take a joke. That, on top of the physical anguish, there was the mental anguish of being treated in a way that no man ever wants to be treated. Humourlessly.

Tomorrow, apparently, there might be a story in a newspaper about an autograph I signed for a bloke in a wheelchair. Apparently he was so offended by what I wrote, that a mere 228 hours later he rushed to the newspaper with talk of his upset. I don’t know what the article is going to say, but I think the ‘journalist’ who’s writing it up has contacted various charities who work with the physically impaired, and got them to be very cross about it.

So, rather than respond directly to that story – which is fucking bullshit – I thought I’d write this post. I thought I’d write something that every British person understands to be true and it’s this:

There is a fundamental difference between saying something that’s intended to hurt and deliberately saying something outrageously offensive as a joke – and moreover a joke borne out of resigned camaraderie. Intelligent people understand this. Idiot’s probably struggle a bit. So, if you don’t get it, bad news I’m afraid: you’re an idiot. And because you’re an idiot, I’m not going to waste my time explaining it to you, as you will never understand. I’m sorry for you. I really am. Taking the piss is one of life’s great pleasures – possibly even, the only way to cope with the insanity of modern life.

If I read you wrong, if I thought you were someone who shared that curiously British sense of humour – preveailant from the playground to the gallows – but didn’t, just tell me. I will immediately apologise. Deciding that you’re so upset, weeks later, and trying to make a few quid out of it at the same time won’t make me apologise. It’ll make me think you’re probably a bit of an arse. I couldn’t give a shit whether you’re in a wheelchair, on crutches, on a gurney or dangling from a fucking rope – if you’re backstage at a TV show, asking for photos, having a beer and a laugh, I’m just going to skip to the bit where I treat you like any other person; just like the soldiers told me to.

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58 responses

16 11 2011
mandy

Bloody right.

16 11 2011
Simon Durling

Couldn’t have put it better myself

16 11 2011
andyagides

It’s a shame there seems to be a preoccupation with “offence” at the moment. If a person takes “offence” it’s their problem no one else’s! I have never seen any malice in your humor and honestly it’s what makes it so good. Keep on keeping on Rufus.

16 11 2011
Kelly

True and derp Rufus! This offended fool is undoubtedly someone who laughs at Chav jokes or Gay jokes or Fat jokes. You don’t get to be selective over what is funny, it’s subversive and personal. Either everything is up for laughs or nothing is. Don’t you dare have the cheek to think anything that affects you personally is too sacred to be smirked at but everything else is ok.

16 11 2011
Midori Frame (@PixieMidori)

I don’t know why you bothered writing such a long piece, you can’t even pluralise “idiot” properly. Idiot.
😉

Clearly, I jest. As you state, we British have a natural aptitude for banter.
Despite never having even met you, I figure you will understand me, because I’ve seen you on tv and read your blogs so I know a tiny bit about your nature. If you were upset by it, then I’m sorry. (I bet you’re crying, benderboy!)

You’re also clearly right about people being self-serving idiots.
If you’d genuinely upset him, he would’ve said. Someone will have told him he could make more money out of claiming offence through the media than selling the ‘graph on ebay. He’ll have seen the “mong” hoo-ha caused by that other beardyface from ont’ telly and thought he’d like some money for pretending you’re horrible.

Fortunately for people who can see beyond the end of their own nose, there’s quite a difference between banter and calling people mongs.
I’ve never met you but I’m pretty sure you aren’t Dicky Gervais in disguise. Always seen you as a genuine chap who (as you say) would apologise if directly approached, instead of blaming the mutation of languague (that no-one else agrees removes the offensive nature of the words) like he named above.

Anyway, you’ve not changed in my estimations.
Keep on taking the piss!
And for the record, I think your beard is much better that Gervais’s.

16 11 2011
colin

Well said Rufus.
Twice.

16 11 2011
shirley johnston

there’s always some body picking up on these things,finding offence where none was intended.i’m famous for being inappropriate! i love how funny you are!

16 11 2011
Mark C

Brilliant

16 11 2011
rhian54

Well done, shame everyone doesn’t think like this, it’d be a much nicer world to live in. Xx

16 11 2011
Martin

Dear Mr Hound,

Your summary of this wheelchair-bound oik is both fair and just. My wife has been diagnosed with MS for 4 years now, and there is nothing she despises more than people sympathising with her.
Sympathy is such an offensive thing to inflict upon a differently abled person, empathy however is the star of the show and she (like those soldiers) loves when people can put themselves in her shoes, imagine how she must be feeling and pick her up when she’s down.
I’m certain that my beautiful lady would relish the prospect of one day being the subject of a Hound witticism, and that only angers me more at the lack of gratitude this wheelie swine has shown.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he turned out to be a Kyle fan!

Keep up the sterling work, making us chuckle and gush at the man love exhibited by you and Leigh. Oh and please stop raiding Olly Murs’ wardrobe, you look a bit fruity in plaid.

Martin

16 11 2011
Amanda

Well said Mr Hound

16 11 2011
Joelle Stanley

Here here!

16 11 2011
steedee

Couldn’t agree more. Black comedy, the funny kind not what Chris Rock says, can put a smile on the face of a broken man. It is one of the finest things developed by the human race. A vital antidote to a cruel and twisted world…. you nob head. 😉

16 11 2011
Vicus Scurra

Very nicely put. It’s a shame you had to write it, though.

16 11 2011
Captain Ranty

I like it! Coz it’s true and stuff.

(I was a professional soldier myself, back in the Dark Ages).

A particular favourite of mine is recorded in the book Kiss Me Goodnight, Sergeant-Major. (About the Falklands Conflict).

A soldier, having been unlucky enough to have been on the receiving end of a mortar, was screaming, “Fuck! I’ve lost my leg! I’ve lost my leg!”, to which the medic says, “No, you haven’t mate, it’s over there”. (Before reaching in and grabbing the lads artery and ultimately saving his life).

Humour is a vital tool. Those that don’t “get it” are humourless freaks. They wouldn’t find anything funny.

Fuck ’em.

Fuck ’em all.

CR.

16 11 2011
Kora Carlson (@lolagranolacan)

Very well said, Rufus. When my limbs drop off, as surely they will someday in a mad fit of wanderlust, you can take the mick out of me, as I would for you.

16 11 2011
Jess

Absolutely!!! Well said, you hairy old fart ;0)

16 11 2011
Rosie

Exactly. Someone should nick the miserable bugger’s tyres and see if he develops a sense of humour.

When you lose the ability to laugh at yourself, you truly are possessed of a serious disability.

16 11 2011
a woman

We know that the press are mad crazy sometimes malicious people desperately looking for ‘news’. Boys will be boys.

16 11 2011
jlord33@hotmail.co.uk

nice one rufus, tell it the way it is and if they dont like it tough titties!!

16 11 2011
Yvonne Costigan

What an absolute nob they are after all those days – and that is not said with any love 🙂

16 11 2011
Sarah

I want to steal this post and give it to the people who moan about my banter behind my back rather than to my face! As yes I would apologise straight away if I knew they didn’t find it funny. Well put.

16 11 2011
Lee

Yep, well said. And your moustache is gay. X

16 11 2011
louse

maybe taking the piss is the way you do things but if someones is backstage and has had this written will be upset but after talking to people about this . this boy in the wheelchair and everyone he has spoken to have told him to go to the papers . he doesnt want to make a few bob . he just wants to be heard like every other person .

16 11 2011
Wayne

Well fucking said hound boy, it’s about time someone told the pv brigade what we are really like and how we carry on, by the way I remember when you was on argumental, little cock I seem to remember.

16 11 2011
Pedromull

Rufus you’re a legend,don’t give in t bigoted shameless scrounging “Well wrote geezer”.

16 11 2011
Ben

brilliantly said.

16 11 2011
Rich Smith

Well said you big gay YMCA reject! I’m sick to the back teeth by people feeling offended by good old banter. It’s how wars were won and how we coped during the shittier times in our history. Feck the lot of em who can’t understand banter I say.

16 11 2011
mike

Well said Rufus! Totally agree with you.

16 11 2011
Carlos

Dude, some people are just cocks. They’re born that way. Unfortunately for you, you’re in the line of fire because if your chosen profession. No one believes what the papers say anyway, do they?

You’re a top bloke, f### ’em…

16 11 2011
Sophi

Well said. Without even reading this people who get you will see and know that whatever comment was made was in jest and not to insult.

Some people are just out for a buck or two.

Shame.
Xx

Stay cool.

See you Thursday

16 11 2011
Adele

Well said Rufus X x
What a miserable twat.

17 11 2011
Quincy

My friend is a stand-up comedian. He was asked to take part in a benefit gig for people suffering from AIDS. He walked out on stage and immediately said “I am delighted to be here doing this gig for AIDS, it’s easily my favourite of all the terminal diseases.”

The carers, friends and relatives of the AIDS sufferers were horrified and tried to get him pulled from the stage; the people who actually had AIDS in the audience – those the benefit was for – loved him because he was the first person who hadn’t walked out and been sanctimonious and serious over their struggle. He was the first person who’d treated them like a real audience and taken the piss indiscriminately. He was cheered from the stage, and then asked to leave by the organiser.

Couldn’t agree with you more.

17 11 2011
Simon

Well said !! It’s a shame it came down to you having to right it in a blog !!!

17 11 2011
Adam Bage

Well said lad, with you all the way!

17 11 2011
Sarah Hughes

Totally agree! Our plumber came round today & from the time he came thru the door til the time he left all he did was take the piss out of my husband, our baby, friends of ours, it just shows he’s at ease with us, on the same wavelength, not treading on eggshells thru fear of offending! X

17 11 2011
TheBoyandMe

What an idiot he is! Well said and sod him.

17 11 2011
Peter G

Out of interest: is it about give and take too? The idea that someone shouldnt have the piss taken out of them all day long if they don’t do it themselves? Sort of a “cant eat it then don’t dish out out ethos?

Lovely post though and something I hope the press catch onto with regards to ‘leaving things the fuck alone’

Respect da Rooof!!

17 11 2011
chris

Couldn’t agree more. It’s a british thing spanning the generations and classes, but unfortunately not to the thickos.
Same kind of thing with hospital humour. People being offended by banter that everyone ‘gets’ and uses then run off and complain to the mail. Sad times. People just need to chill out a bit and be human.

17 11 2011
Shaun

A couple of observations:

1. Tabloids trying to stitch you up? Sounds like you’ve gone up a rung on the celebrity ladder! (personally I am sad, as you’ll probably be too big to play Southsea Wedgewood Rooms again)

2. An arse is an arse, whatever their physical condition. Probablu an Avril Lavigne fan too.

17 11 2011
Steph

We now live in a place where political correctness has gone crazy, people are afraid to say anything! The guy you refer to has a voice, he made an informed decision to ask you for an autograph therefore had a voice to tell you whether he was offended.

Its like going to nandos and complaining they give you chicken!

18 11 2011
Norman

fuck me, Nando’s do chicken?

17 11 2011
jowonderwoman

Wish there was more of you out there!!
Brilliant post!

17 11 2011
Bessyblogs

Hear, hear!

17 11 2011
Gaylord Farquhar

Spot on. Humourless people are the scurvy on the orange peel of life. I treat everybody with the same irreverence as if I’ve known them for years. This is probably why I’ve taken to twitter, as I can throw my humour to all and sundry, the ones that get it have become ‘good friends’ even though we’ve never actually met.
I’d rather lose a leg instead of my humour. Having said that, not the middle one.

17 11 2011
colmbritton

+1

17 11 2011
Lee Robinson

Well fucking said big man!! It’s about time people realizsed that taking the piss out of each other is born out of trust and friendship, and not out of malice. Anyone who works in a factory/warehouse environment or the brave guys fighting on the front line use “BANTER” to help them get through stressful situations. So if you don’t like it and don’t understand it, tough because banter gives you the freedom to sleep soundly in your bed at night!!!

17 11 2011
Twit2weewoo

Good article. I strongly feel that a wider audience need to read this^

I grew up as an ardent piss-taker, but over the years I’ve had it knocked out of me. I used to be the one in the group that took very little seriously. But then I found on more than one occasion that there’d be a busybody who the quip wasn’t aimed at, who’d defend the person the quip was aimed at without the ‘victim’ ever being upset about it.

As you rightly point out, it’s all about intent. That bond of trust, that may already exist, but if it doesn’t, a well placed jibe might just seal the deal and produce long term friendship.

I now choose my moments very carefully, so carefully that sometimes I feel a bit like a dog on a leash. My inner idiot just wants to let fly, as inside I mean no harm, but without prior knowledge of me, others have seen to take offence.

So, now we’re in the digital age, everything is just text, or worse ‘txt spk’. There’s no facial cues to rely on, no hand gestures to back up your words. We’re now all reliant on each others grammar and spelling, which gives the pedants a field day. In broader terms, this means for arseholes like me the only resolve is to leave smileys to indicate our intent.

But then, many hate smileys.

There’s just no winning with some folk.

:0|

17 11 2011
William Whale

You insensitive twat!

17 11 2011
OujanikABolakov

I lost all my limbs in a combine harvester incident and am writing this with my nose. I don’t find this funny at all.

18 11 2011
Steve sherwin

You dont have to justify yourself to these pc wankers , why is everyone so fucking touchy,its a good job they dont work on a building site…….!

18 11 2011
Norman

Indeed, spakkers need to lighten up a bit, wish I could sit on my arse all day.

Oh, wait…..

20 11 2011
TWTWTW: Why it’s good to talk « Doobiewotsit

[…] Nice piece by comedian Rufus Hound on humour, friendship and the fine art of taking the piss […]

27 12 2011
Jude

You, my dear, are a leg end, pure quality, mwah xxxxx

13 02 2012
pammiesworld

Totally agree and i get you even as a woman. Its like i only insult you because i like you. When my dad was in hospital my uncles (his brothers in law) treated him as a man and not a sick man. He appreciated that

14 09 2012
Vonnie

In Ireland we call it slagging and it’s almost a national sport. it’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on, although mostly it’s when people have their clothes off that it really gets going. If people are going to get offended by what you say – oh, here’s a novel idea – duh, they shouldn’t watch you. Stick with, I dunno, Loose Women or something equally beige. It’s like the old joke; “Doctor, doctor, it hurts when I do this.” “Well, don’t do that then.” You are an entertainer who relies on the public for your living and you also come across as a reasonably intelligent person. Do these people really think that you would actually shoot yourself in the foot by making genuine derogatory comments? Get real and get a sense of humour, people. Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you cry alone, ya humourless Billy-No-Mates.

2 05 2013
Clifford

Exposure to violence, like witnessing or currently being the
target of bodily or sexual abuse, drive-by shootings,
muggings, or distinct disasters; Stress linked to continual poverty,
discrimination, and other serious hardships; and

14 06 2013
Rochi Samra

Great site you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any community forums that cover the
same topics discussed here? I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get advice from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thank you!

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