You've most likely heard the old maxim that you should never underestimate the intelligence of the audience.
Well, here’s a brand new one to go along with it: Never overestimate the intelligence of television executives – especially the ones running ITV2 who commissioned comedy dating show Dapper Laughs: On the Pull and were this week forced to axe it in the face of a fierce public backlash.
Sixty-thousand members of the general public signed a petition to have the show scrapped. The crunch moment came when a video of Dapper Laughs, a character played by comedian Daniel O’Reilly, telling a female audience member at one of his live shows that she was “gagging for a rape” went public.
Within 24 hours of ITV2’s announcement that there wouldn’t be a second series, O’Reilly’s planned live tour was also down the toilet as venue operator Academy Music Group pulled the plug on all 12 shows.
The really remarkable aspect of all this is not that ITV2 caved in so quickly to the pressure of public and media opinion, but the fact that something as atrocious as Dapper Laughs: On the Pull ever made it onto television in the first place.
Look at it this way: no channel in its right mind would hand a series to the notorious Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown (sample joke: “What do you call the bit on top of a c***? A woman”), so why give one to O’Reilly, whose act, if you can call it that, consists of exactly the same kind of hateful, rancid, misogynistic sh*t, only this time spat from the mouth of a good-looking young bloke in sharp clothes, rather than a 69-year-old lard-arsed loudmouth in a stupid flying helmet?
Well, it’s obvious, really. Dapper (favourite catchphrases “She knows!” and “Get your g*sh out!”) started out dispensing his laddish wit and wisdom about pulling birds in seven-second sketches on Vine (“Wanna get some? Never treat them as your mate!”).
And as any clued-in TV commissioner, whether at ITV2 or RTE2 knows, the internet is where the future of comedy is at. Oh, and let’s not forget that O’Reilly is being, whassisname, ironic, yeah?
Ah, our old friend Mr Irony again. Covers a multitude of bad comedy sins does Mr Irony. You can get away with saying practically anything you want, no matter how appalling, as long as you’re being ironic. Except, as O’Reilly discovered this week, you can’t.
He went on BBC2’s Newsnight to announce that he’d retired Dapper Laughs, and to apologise and explain that he’d never condone rape or sexual violence, and that he’d only been trying to “push the boundaries”, but had somehow “got carried away”.
“I did not realise I was causing that much of a problem,” he bleated, while at the same intimating the media was really to blame. “It’s wrecked my life to a certain extent.”
Watching a visibly unimpressed Emily Maitlis calmly eviscerate him using clips of his show as a weapon, while he squirmed like a worm on a fishing hook, was one of the most purely pleasurable television experiences of the week.
Sadly, it’s unlikely the target audience for Dapper Laughs – the young men who take their knowledge of the opposite sex from the sticky pages of lad-mags and from porn sites, and believe that women come pre-vajazzled and free of pubic hair – were watching Newsnight.
Dapper may be dead, but the bad odour he left behind is harder to get rid of.
WATCH the Newsnight interview here:
Dapper Laughs: On the Pull is available to hate on YouTube.