ED2012 COLUMN: This year ThreeWeeks favourite Catie Joy Wilkins has a show all about the many things in the world that just fail to live up to the names they’ve been given. Starting with her own middle name. To get you in the mood, she sets out her manifesto for more accurate naming here in ThreeWeeks.
This year my show is called ‘Joy Is My Middle Name’. Partly because Joy really is my middle name. I’m like Austin Danger Powers, except, I in no way live up to that part of my name. I’m kind of a negative person. My cup is half empty. I didn’t get into comedy to cheer everyone’s day along. More to ease a gaping hole in my own self-esteem. And because I worked out it’s a slightly more legitimate way to get attention than faking a panic attack.
I’m not even specifically depressed. I can still totally enjoy the smell of a rose, or a baby’s laugh, it’s just that I also think it’s important to beware of thorns with the former and faecal matter with the latter. So Joy isn’t an inappropriate middle name for me, me being profoundly miserable.
Actually, I think it’s more that I’m just so overly cautious, that I am in constant danger of sapping the fun out of things. For example, I know that I will never spontaneously take my clothes off and run into the sea, like some kind of late-night Pepsi Max advert (at least, not unless I know I have a towel with me). And, really I’m fine with that. I’m not going to be the one bringing the fun times to the party. But I am always available to point out the fire exits. That’s fine, I’ve made my peace with it. But my name misdirects people and gives me something to fail to live up to.
Despite this, I am not the most the most inappropriately named thing you will ever see. There are myriad badly monikered items floating around our crazy, workaday world, just waiting to mis-sell their wares to people. ‘Secret Entrance To Bat Cave’ is one of my all time favourite examples. A sign advertising and pointing to the whereabouts of the ‘secret’ entrance to the famous subterranean lair in the old ‘Batman’ TV series tickled me as a kid ,and still does now.
In fact, TV is a key offender in this field. There are a plethora of misnamed programmes just waiting to trick you into viewing something that doesn’t do exactly what it says on the tin. ‘Most Haunted’ has not yet displayed one ghost on its show. Not one. Sure, it’s showed plenty of clips of people freaking out about the dark, and we all enjoyed that episode where Paul Ross came running out of a building, screaming, only to reveal the cryptic explanation, “one hand is warmer than the other, and I’m not wearing a glove!”
But if ‘Most Haunted’ was going to accurately reflect what it shows in its contents, it should be re-named ‘Celebrities Shouting At Night’, yet trading standards don’t seem that keen to intervene in this matter. Which, when you consider that people are happy to write in and complain about TV if someone says the word ‘boobies’ before the watershed, it does surprise me that more people haven’t written to OfCom about this breach.
Then there’s ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. Which explicitly and repeatedly demonstrates the lack thereof. As an 80s child, I can still remember Barrymore’s ‘My Kind Of People’ and still find it bizarre that what is a essentially a community or shopping centre talent show being televised is now big business.
I don’t want to split hairs, but there is a whole cable channel called God TV. No one seems to mind that he never turns up for filming. What a diva. They have to put loads of filler on, like random crazy people talking about getting your money. And yet no one ever writes in to complain about God TV, pointing out there’s no such thing. I mean, even McDonald’s wheel out a Ronald McDonald now and again for their adverts, just to tick some boxes. I guess God TV must have the same demographic as ‘Most Haunted’. Now I’ve mentioned McDonalds, what about ‘Happy Meal’. Happy? Oh, I could go on… ‘blow job’, ‘Head Cheese,’ and ‘The Best Of Britney Spears’.
But so what? The world is just a slightly more confusing place, no biggie, right? Well, I say yes, biggie. And I nominate myself to solve all these problems and re-name everything to be more accurate for everyone. I’ll start with ‘Mothercare’ – it’s now called ‘Tiger Mums.’ You’re welcome.
Catie Wilkins’ show ‘Joy Is My Middle Name’ was performed at Underbelly Cowgate at Fringe 2012.
Photo: Paul Collins