Former law-student, bouncer, binman, pub landlord and now a busy comedian, Greg Cook’s deadpan style and mastery of the spoken word led John Plowman, head of BBC Comedy, to describe him as Les Dawson for the 21st century. Greg’s also an actor and has appeared in various TV shows including Coronation Street and Citizen Khan, as well as in films including Looking for Eric. Here Country Squire Magazine’s Dominic Wightman interviews Greg about political correctness and where, and if, a boundary should be set for going too far.
Q: Greg, would you say that any accusation of racism, homophobia, sexism, bigotry — even without merit — can be enough to besmirch a reputation, kill a career, or be used to invalidate a lifetime of good work?
Greg Cook: Absolutely. Such accusations are the weapons of choice of the career-leftist. A fortnight ago at Berkeley University in California, armed thugs paid by George Soros whipped up feeble-minded students into full-on riots ahead of a planned speech by Breitbart’s professional ‘winder-upper’ Milo Yiannopolous. Milo said afterwards: “For 30 years the left has been able to bully people into silence by name-calling and they’ve forgotten how to argue.” He is correct, of course. Actual debate is rarely a viable option for people on the left because of those pesky facts which will always ultimately undermine their position. Are you familiar with a party game called “Twister?”
Q: That’s the one with the coloured discs and the pointer that spins around isn’t it?
Greg Cook: That’s the fellow. Now imagine, if you will, that each of those discs represents support for a social justice ‘cause.’ The extreme contortions required to plant an appendage on the discs marked ‘women’s rights’ ‘Islam’ ‘LGBTQ rights’ ‘free speech’ ‘no-platforms for people we don’t agree with’ and so on would tax Harry Houdini. That list is not exhaustive, by the way. There are other glaring anomalies. The left tend to be vehemently anti fox-hunting. I’m with them on that but when I flag up the utter barbarity that is halal slaughter I’m Islamophobic apparently. Bet your life a lot of the people who want to bring millions more people into the UK, necessitating more house-building in the green belts and those who left all the mess behind for others to clear up after the recent anti-Trump marches would call themselves ‘environmentalists.’ I coined the phrase ‘foregone confusion’ and it seems to fit here. So, I totally get why the left do it. They have no choice. It’s so much easier to just shout ‘Bigot, Racist and so on.’ Their only other option would be to admit they are wrong and that is never going to happen. Don’t forget a lot of these lefties are young products of our Universities who have been taught that they can never be wrong. That doesn’t make what they do any more acceptable, any less damaging. They have ruined many a career by their mud-slinging. On a personal level, I’m good at what I do but there are large areas of the country where I couldn’t get booked by a traffic-warden, because of my off-stage political beliefs.
Q: You would agree the traits I mentioned are reprehensible, though?
Greg Cook: Totally. In reality of course, the traits you listed were until recently very much a thing of the past in civilised Western society. Then along came Frau Merkel who was instructed by her controllers to attempt to mix oil and water and imported new, more virulent strains of them and spread them further afield.
Q: Do we really understand the seriousness of those labels? Or, are we simply indulging in destructive name-calling based on political correctness?
Greg Cook: Perhaps I could draw a pastoral analogy here. It seems to me there are three layers involved in the growth and abuse of PC. At the top are the shepherds. They understand exactly the seriousness of sticking one of these labels on a person. After all, they are the people who weaponized the labels and made them so powerful. George Soros is probably the main shepherd. Some of the sheepdogs (the traditional mainstream media, the education system, Common Purpose etc.) will also understand, although the majority of them are actually in it for some easy money. Then we come to the sheep. These are by and large clueless and will tend to gather where the sheepdogs tell them to and bleat. And bleat and bleat and bleat. The first time I became aware of this phenomenon was when the sheepdogs pointed the sheep at the late reality TV star, Jade Goody. Tubby, working-class Jade who pulled herself up by her bootstraps and became a successful businesswoman had to die and leave her kids orphaned before she was fully forgiven for calling a beautiful, successful and wealthy actress “Shilpa Poppadum.”
During the recent anti-democratic protests before and surrounding the Inauguration of President Trump things took a more sinister turn. The sheep graduated from bleating to beating. ’The Violence of the Lambs’, if you will.
Q: Would you say that these days, while everyone is so afraid of being called “sexist” “racist” “Islamophobic” or “anti-Semitic” or given some other career-killing label, that we all tiptoe carefully around diversity issues, and avoid them altogether if we possibly can?
Greg Cook: Well, I’d query the anti-Semitism thing. It seems anti Semitism is becoming sadly acceptable again, cleverly disguised as ‘Pro-Palestinianism.’ As regards the other ‘labels’, you’re pretty much correct. Certainly, at TV level.
Q: Yet your jokes as a comedian are sometimes bordering on non-PC territory, right?
Greg Cook: Well, yes. And sometimes I batter right through the middle of it, but my audiences are private and my philosophy is that you can joke about me being fat if you like, I do. Someone’s funny place is automatically not someone else’s. Comedy is give and take. By being politically incorrect we’re breaking down barriers that PC puts up. And that seriously needs to be done – and quickly. Comedy has the potential to break down those barriers. I can laugh raucously at someone joking about my beer belly. And here’s the thing. On the very rare occasion I have had Muslims in an audience, if they aren’t drinking alcohol, then I don’t do any Islam stuff. To me that would be bullying, you see? I’m getting paid to be laughed at, they’re not. Similarly, if I’m joking about a fat bird it will always be a generic fat bird, rather than pointing out a big unit in the audience.
If the Muslims are drinking, then all bets are off because people don’t get to choose which bits of their belief system are OK to ignore, on my watch. So, Mo, if you were just the designated driver well sorry mate you missed a treat but I won’t take the chance. Not because I have any respect for your beliefs but because you probably do and I’ve got loads of other material.
Q: Which comedians go too far in your opinion?
Greg Cook: Frankie Boyle is one who springs to mind.
Q: If we can’t talk about differences that puzzle us, or things we’re curious about, without fear of giving offence, then how can we ever overcome our ignorance about cultures and races — or even the opposite sex?
Greg Cook: Exactly. Humour has always been the antidote to the poison of fear. Hitler was scary but as soon as the rumour went round he only had one ball then the whole of Britain was laughing at him. Humour is a great leveller. We should not be scared, just because fear suits somebody’s malevolent agenda.
Q: So, to summarise, you’re saying if we must constantly self-censor any conversation pertaining to race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or physical ability, then we are in effect reinforcing the very barriers we should be breaking down?
Greg Cook: Pretty much, although you might be asking the wrong person. I only self-censor according to my own moral code which may occasionally occupy the same space as some of the PC stuff but that will tend to just be co-incidence. In an ideal world people would set their own limits of course. Many don’t. PC is largely responsible for this moral regression, this outsourcing of personal decency. “If it isn’t specifically on the list of things that aren’t OK, then it must be OK.” Take the example of calling Baron Trump a potential high school shooter, or saying he will grow up to be a date rapist, or the dreadful things Frankie Boyle had to say about Katie Price’s disabled son. For me that kind of thing is off-limits. These are not in any sense PC-imposed limits though. These are about common humanity, wherein adults don’t have a go at children, able-bodied or otherwise, and whatever their relative social standing. “Moral Correctness gone mad” I suppose some might call it. People should of course have the right to say these things, within the constraints of the law. For my part, I reserve the right to despise the people who say them and those who are amused by them in equal measure.
Q: Jesus? People seem to joke about Jesus and Christianity all the time. Perhaps Christians are more inclined to turn the other cheek?
Greg Cook: This has to do with the PC notion that Christians, along with white people, heterosexuals and any other perceived ‘majority’ groups may only joke about people within their own group, whereas any member of a ‘minority’ may joke about any other minority. And all credit to Christians, by the way. I know lots of them and they’re quite happy to laugh at a well-told anti-Christian joke. This has not always been the case of course. The Spanish Inquisition were a notoriously tough crowd, I understand. But Christianity grew up. Perhaps Islam could try that. And perhaps it would if people were free to point out its many obvious shortcomings without being labelled Islamophobic and having a fatwa pronounced on them.
Q: So, the whole PC thing has gone too far? Will generations look back on us and chuckle at our ignorance and lack of emotional intelligence?
Greg Cook: PC started off too far. It was always unjustifiable. It’s just another part of the globalist ‘divide and conquer’ strategy. Split us up into groups, emphasise our differences, stir up hatred, then mix the groups together, light the blue touch-paper and retire. To the Bahamas. Or Necker Island. If we don’t wind this all the way back and allow people to make their own decisions as to what, in existential terms, is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, there may not be many more generations.
The UK needs a Trump.
There you go. I’ve closed with a fart gag.
Thank you very much.
I’m here all week.
Q: Appreciated, Greg.