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11 October 2007

The worst word you can think of?

Richard Herring explores what is truly insulting...

By Richard Herring

This week I recorded a ten minute set for Paramount’s offensive stand-up show, Comedy Blue. Usually when doing stand up on telly I have to wrack my brain for the few clean and non-controversial jokes that I have, but tonight I was free to choose anything I wanted and apparently could say any word I wanted apart from “motherfucker”.

I was quite intrigued to know why this was unacceptable when cunt, nigger and spasmo were presumably all fine. Is the concept of being someone who has intercourse with a mother (and it doesn’t necessarily have to be your own – you can still be a motherfucker if you are fucking someone else’s mother) really the last taboo?

I thought about doing some stuff about this policy, listing all the things I could say and then saying the dreaded word and forcing them to bleep me. I think it would have made their policy seem rather ridiculous. I can come up with some much worse words and notions than the idea of having sex even with one’s own mother. Babyraper for example or Pakiburner or mouthshitterwhoshitsinthemouthofaidsriddenmidgetsandmakesthemspittheshit
ontothefaceofadisabledbaby. Those are just off the top of my head. Don’t give me time to think of anything worse.

Why is motherfucking off the agenda of a show whose aim is to say anything and everything else? Is it really the worst motherfucking word in the world? Compared to the things I have come up with fucking your mother seems almost a charming thing to do.

If you had the choice between fucking your mother and burning an inhabitant of Pakistan which would you choose? I hope you would fuck your mother. The world would be a better place if all the people who burnt or murdered people because of their race or religion or geographical location just fucked their mothers instead.

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It would be even better if they didn’t burn anyone or fuck their mothers, but my point is that there are worse things in the world that motherfucking and I would argue that motherfucking is actually a quite rare occurrence. Who’d want to fuck their mother? Certainly not me. My mum is 70 and looks like Bobby Robson.

As it turned out I ended up about talking about motherfucking as I did my Oedipus bit. Surely actually discussing a specific instance of motherfucking, which includes both the word mother and fucking but not the word motherfucking is worse than just saying motherfucking. Is it really true that the word is offensive, but the concept is fine? And if so what does that say about the world we live in?

Now I wish that I had done all this as my routine, but I stayed on the safe ground of discussing sucking a comatose old man’s penis and saying why I would like to marry Maxine Carr. Both much more unpleasant things than making motherfucking in my opinion. But not in the opinion of the people who decide what words are acceptable on the Paramount comedy channel.