Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Taboo Sucks, To You...

I see that Chip Dale is back and has blogged for two days straight! Why did nobody tell me? And how long will those pineapple-scented thighs keep up in the current blogging climate?

Things have changed since he last graced us with his innocent optimism and questionable quips. Of course, it would be churlish to remind people of the poorly written posts that characterised much of his blog output, so, instead, I simply welcome him back like a long-lost relative from the side of the family that nobody cares to talk about because they live on Merseyside and drive taxi cabs for a living.

Despite my initial wariness of Chip – I’m still not convinced that it’s healthy to be so obsessed with thongs – I have been slowly developing a soft spot for the man who has overcome so many obvious physical difficulties to succeed in the emotionally demanding world of male stripping. Admittedly, I have a similar attitude towards Gordon Brown and politics, though there’s also a nail gun fetish somewhere in that mix. Chip, however, just brings out the best in me and I’m glad to have him around so long as we’re separated by a few hundred miles.

It’s one of the drawbacks of being famous that people often stop me in the street and demand to know what I think about stripping as a career. ‘I lack the flexibility,’ I reply, though in truth, I encourage all men to take off their clothes for money unless they suffer some obvious physical defect such as good looks or a perfect body. It’s why I could never make a career as ‘Big Dick Madeley’. The Great Sculptor damned me by using clay free of blemishes. There’s not a wart on my body; just shapely legs, firm buttocks, and a thin waste angling nicely into armpits to die for. And as Chip proves, to be a male stripper, you have to put all your obvious flaws on show. It’s what makes for a rowdy evening and Judy return home at four thirty in the morning threatening me with a thong slingshot.

The world of female strippers is, of course, something quite different. It’s all about darkened booths heavy with a sordid musk and fetid bodily odours reminiscent of Clapham Common on New Year’s Eve. By contrast, is there anything funnier than seeing a man strip for a living? I remember thinking it strange when there was an outcry about the stripping postmen on our final Channel 4 show. People complained that it was wrong if me to enjoy Judy’s obvious embarrassment and that she could laugh at another person’s anatomy.

In these days of ‘right thinking’, we’re not meant to express an opinion about (or find humour in) anything out of the ordinary – though as the great S.J. Perelman once said, ‘humour, in its simplest form, is the unexpected [...] the sudden disruption of thought, the conjoining of unlikely elements’. It’s why we can laugh at a funeral, in the middle of a battle, or during Bruce Forsyth’s act. Stripping provides instantaneous access (or exposure) to the unexpected and though Chip would probably disagree: his success probably has more to do with embarrassed laughter than it has anything to do with his sex appeal.

After all, some of the oldest jokes in our culture are directed to people with large noses or enormous bottoms. What is the Venus of Willendorf if it isn’t a series of Benny Hill reduced to fit your hand? Unlike our primitive ancestors, we’ve simply moved on to laugh at oddly placed tattoos and tricks involving novelty sailor hats.

I suppose all forms of stripping appeal to the prurient part of our nature, where the infantile taboos lurk. Yet men like Chip seems particularly good at demonstrating that taboo and humour are reverse sides of the same screwed-up coin. Just ask the greatest stand-up of all time, Sigmund Freud, who often shocked audiences with his jokes about Dora, a plate of spinach and the baboon called Ferdinand. Comedy trails after taboo and skirts around the acceptable.

Political correctness may currently define what is acceptable but its strictures will never abide. I have lost track of the number of times I’ve been told off for using the word ‘midget’ recently but my mind naturally reaches for it when looking for a shorthand way of expressing the unexpected. Midget. Earlobe. Lubricated. Onion. Stripper. Owl. I know that three of these words might offend people below four feet but I have never heard either Ant or Dec complain. And is there anything funnier than a midget stripper? A lubricated onion? A heavily earlobed Owl? Unless, of course, you’re the producers at Channel 4 who wouldn’t allow the talent to book the acts for the final show of a successful series.

So, welcome back Chip. It’s just a shame you’re so tall and not an owl.

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