Rahul Kohli

Can I tell you a joke?

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Newcastle Brown Male. An easy pun, and a simple summary of who I am. This show however isn’t´t really about me.

The world is an ever-changing place, but in the era of the millennial there are a few constants. The threat of terrorism, geopolitical relations between the West and the East, and the question of free speech. Fundamental free speech. Do we have it? Are we entitled to it?

Those on the far right say “we don’t but we should”, then exercise their right to free speech to complain any time others exercise their right to free speech to criticise them.

Those on the far left however say “we do and we shouldn’t´t.” They exercise their right to free speech to try shut down any jokes or sentiment regarding paedophilia (just ask Louis C.K.), terrorism, anything that is potentially racist, sexist, homophobic, body shaming, unfair or in any way shape or form slightly hurtful.

This was illustrated beautifully after comedian Masai Graham who won the second best joke of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2014 for his joke “I’ve written a joke about a fat badger  but I couldn’t fit it into my set” highlighted a comment on a Guardian article criticising his joke. The criticism was as follows: “The Badger joke is not funny. Fat jokes are not funny at all!”

Those in the middle ground say “I don’t care and I don’t care.” and exercise their right to free speech to Instagram a picture of their lunch with an obscene amount of meaningless hashtags.

Of course, it is important to note that these are grotesque generalisations which are both offensive and predjudiced, for which I, of course, humbly apologise.

The issue keeps rearing its head, whether it be the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Dapper Laughs, or a Saturday Night Live Sketch by Louis C.K. Most recently, Bashar Mustafa, the diversity officer for Goldsmiths University stated: “‘I can’t be racist because I’m an ethnic minority woman… Reverse racism and reverse sexism are not real.”

My new Edinburgh show, Newcastle Brown Male, attempts to dissect these (potential) double standards, as well as many of the other hypocrisies and leaps of logic that dictate the rules of most Western liberal democracies in the 21st century – including foreign policy, economic policy, and religious freedom.

With the rising tide of Islamaphobia, euroskepticism and the growing Pride and feminist movements, many would argue that a white male cannot constructively contribute to this discussion because their privilege negates their viewpoint. Well, I guess the power relations have reversed to some degree, as I am not gay, female, Muslim, or Eastern European, hence none of these issues directly affect me. But I do find myself thanking God right now that I´m not a honky.

If you´re offended, don´t fill my inbox with shit – come see the show, then we can talk.

Rahul Kohli: Newcastle Brown Male, 6,7,10,13,14,17,29 August, 11.45am, The Counting House, Edinburgh.