Oooh, Steve Hughes…

“My girlfriend says it’s great that she is South African. She says if she gets homesick, I can just rape her!” – Steve Hughes, 26th October 2013, Leicester Square Theatre

As I’m starting to think about the idea of authority in stand-up comedy, this joke (which ended a mostly agreeable 60 minute show) made me think.  I didn’t find this funny, but about half the large audience did.  The implication is that not only has the girlfriend given permission for this to be funny, but that she herself has made the joke. That wasn’t enough ‘authority’ for me to be able to laugh.  Why not?  Whose authority would I need, that of everyone who had ever been raped in South Africa? How would that be possible to convey within the joke?

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