Dapper whats?

So here’s another cultural artifact I wasn’t aware of – this “comedian” who goes by Dapper Laughs, who sounds about as funny as a poke in the eye.

It all kicked off when the website UsVsTh3m tweeted a link to a not-so positive review of the 14 track record.

The album includes songs called A Walk To The Pub…With A Tramp, Cracking On To A Sweetheart and Leaving The Pub…With A Tramp.

Sounds hilarious…

He’s new to Eleanor Margolis at the New Statesman, too.

I’ve also been told that he’s a comedian, although I’m struggling to find any evidence to support this. His brand of, not comedy exactly – more like yelling lists of words – consists almost entirely of harassing and degrading women. This is what’s known as “banter” – ie: being obnoxious, but louder and faster. And there is nothing Dapper Laughs won’t mock in the name of banter. Rape, domestic violence, sexual assault: you name it, this guy will demote it from a serious issue to a dad joke. A kind of horny dad joke, but a dad joke nonetheless. Laughs – real name, Daniel O’Reilly – rose to fame via his Vine channel, by posting short clips of himself making some pretty retro sexist jokes, claiming he has a massive dick, and using the word “moist” a lot. In one Vine, he pretends to threaten his girlfriend with a gun for wearing a short skirt. LOL?

O’Reilly/Laughs has just been given his own show by ITV2, who have taken it upon themselves to promote this hyperactive throwback from some wanker on the internet to TV star. The clear message here is that misogyny is just as marketable as ever. It’s been pointed out that feminism’s fourth wave has become a bit of an industry. If so, Girl Power is a burger stand and sexism is McDonalds. The fact that social movements are just as tied up in the free market as everything else is often overlooked.

I’m new to Dapper Laughs, but I’ve been horribly aware of the lad culture industry that spawned him for a long while. A “lad”, for those fortunate enough to think it’s just old fashioned slang for “boy”, is someone who is part of a competition to see who can degrade women the most, in the name of banter. Grabbing a woman’s arse? Banter! Rating a woman’s tits, out of ten? Banter! Shooting a woman? Top notch banter!

When and why and how did this become so fashionable? Where was I at the time? Why wasn’t I consulted?!

Outside of the internet and the media though, one of lad culture’s favourite haunts is our universities. In a recent article about the phenomenon, the Guardian reported that 68 per cent of women at UK universities have been sexually harassed. The Americans, who have a solid history of university sexism deployed by fraternities, are probably wondering why us Brits have only just recognised this as A Thing. What seems to have happened is that aggressively macho frat culture has somehow hitched a ride over the Atlantic.

Really? Oh god. I’m sorry. I apologize for my country. I’m so sorry. Mind you, I was never consulted on that either, and I’ve never liked it or found it amusing or had anything to do with it. But still, I live here, and I apologize.

A driving force behind this movement is the idea that those opposed to it are simply humourless. The sour-faced feminist trope is an old one, and it’s still being used to silence women. The banter brigade have convinced themselves that they own comedy, meaning that anti-banter is fundamentally anti-humour.

And anti-sex, and anti-free speech. All of those. Misogynist rapey banter is all the good things and its critics are all the bad ones. #banter!


  1. says

    (Damn. I had another comment, but the machine seems to have eaten it. It was about the debasement of language, and what “banter” has come to mean. Not so long ago, it was a way of describing badinage: ribald conversation between friends, who know, and like, and trust each other, and who both know and are willing to test the limits of what is sayable between them. It could be rude, and cruel, but it was also – if you want to use the word – consensual, and depended on each participant recognising the other as an equal, with every right to give as good as they get. A game that either could finish playing.

    (On that showing, Mr Laughs’ antics are not banter. They aren’t aimed at people he knows, or likes, or who trust him. It’s not consensual. It’s not build on a fundamental trust. It’s not two way. It’s imbecility. It does a disservice to the great art of being wittily rude to your best mates.)

  2. Crimson Clupeidae says

    The UK is trying to one up the US? (Jackass, Tosh.0….)

    I don’t think that’s the sort of thing that one should try to ‘up the game’….

  3. RJW says

    “What seems to have happened is that aggressively macho frat culture has somehow hitched a ride over the Atlantic.”

    Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they? Of course, it couldn’t possibly be part of traditional British culture.

  4. latsot says

    We’re an odd bunch, we Brits. If we have anything approaching a national identity, it’s an aversion to unfairness. If there’s anything that angers us, it’s someone being treated unfairly.

    And yet, look at the state of us. When I was a kid in the 70s, the emancipation of women was considered a mainstream joke. Women were trying to tell us how shit we were being to them, how shit we made them feel, and we turned it into a joke. This is about the most profoundly unfair thing I can think of and we – as a nation – responded to it mostly with ridicule.

    Fortunately, we didn’t manage to shut those women up but unfortunately, all that’s happened recently is that the ‘humour’ has turned nastier, more personal, more clearly designed to ridicule and to hurt.

    I think RJW is right and this is very much a part of British culture, but I also think that something has changed in recent years and maybe the US actually does have a little something to apologise for. The thing that’s changed is the blokey attitude. It’s for some reason now OK to say and do stupendously horrible, sexist things and pretend you’re just joking. And everyone else pretends it’s OK to joke about those things, when much of the time it obviously isn’t. Even in the 70s, we were or at least seemed slightly embarrassed when we said and did blithering things. We look back at old UK comedy shows in bewilderment: that brute-force othering has become unacceptable. But now it seems we can say and do horror and pretend we were just joking and it’s totally OK. The Daily Mail – the sole global arbiter of what’s unfair – has articles about false rape allegations and lesbian murderers almost daily. The irony doesn’t need very much teasing out.

    For some reason, the UK is ravenous for US culture. Or at least, for US sitcoms. Even the most bland, middle-of-the-road US sitcoms are rife with casual sexism, racism and homophobia. Even The Big Bang Theory, which is about people I ought to identify with, can’t manage to get through a single episode without comparing a male character’s traits to those of a woman, with derogatory connotations. Friends – the blandest sitcom of all time – is also full of this kind of thing. Chandler has hilariously feminine traits and Monica has hilariously masculine ones. It’s OK though, because Joey and Rachel are hyper-ideal male and female. The less said about Two and a Half Men very much the better.

    I’m not blaming US sitcoms for sexism. We had it way before America was invented and we should be the ones apologising for exporting it. But those sitcoms seem obsessed with mainstreaming horrible attitudes and we in the UK seem to drink them up. One of my less endearing hobbies is to point out to my wife – usually at length – the casual sexism, racism, homophobia, ableism, classism and so on in apparently bland media. An even worse trait is my pointing out when TV sets are unrealistic. I don’t seem to care how annoying that is, for some reason. I kind of pride myself on having ruined almost every TV show and film for her. But once you start paying attention, these sorts of thing are impossible to ignore.

    Sitcoms, I expect, are aimed at a common denominator. They’re expertly designed and constantly re-designed according to the perceived sympathies of the intended audience. This, I think, is what we should be ashamed of. We drink that bullshit up and we call it the norm so that we can feel we can get away with being unfair even while we pretend to ourselves that unfairness is what we care about most.

    So yeah, maybe the US has something to apologise for. But in fairness, we British were among those who invented that bullshit and we probably have a lot more to apologise for.

  5. Karen Locke says

    Damn, does this mean I have to stop referring to my (56-year-old) husband as “the young lad”?

  6. RJW says

    @5 latsot

    I can say much the same for Australia, Hollywood also satisfies the domestic demand for crass, misogynist programs, so I wasn’t taking the moral high ground, it was the patronising smugness in the comment that was rather annoying. I’d recently read a somewhat daft article in “The Guardian” where the author criticised the UK government’s adoption of a tougher policy towards refugees, apparently it was caused by the sinister influence of another former colony, Australia.

  7. says

    @5 latsot
    It’s always been a bit tricky. Take Alf Garnett, for example: a monster, but meant to be a monster, and that was the source of the joke…

    I wonder if it’s something like this: that we had used to do a fair amount of othering, but that was perhaps historically explicable (if not thereby excusable); however, from about the late 70s, UK culture did begin to get a little more self-aware – and this largely because previously othered groups were becoming a little less other. (It wasn’t perfect, but… baby steps.) We started to get a bit embarrassed; but then the jokes became more knowing, and more sophisticated, and their focus changed. Old tropes could be manipulated and recyled and used in a wholly different way.

    So far, so good. But then – I wonder – the problem was that those tropes were still there, and now they had a veneer of respectability. And just as the broadly progressive contingent had taken and (mis)used the old humour, so it became possible for the less progressive to take and (mis)use the new. And so we get where we are now.

    *removes amateur anthropologist’s hat*

  8. latsot says


    I’ll buy that. I think it’s more or less part of what I was trying to say, ham-fistedly.

    Alf Garnett is rather different to the examples I gave and you explain why. I’m talking about mainstream characters in mainstream sitcoms who we’re presumably supposed to identify with. Alf Garnett isn’t one of those. Although I can think of a few people who probably do identify with him. But that’s not the point of the character. It presumably is the point of characters in the shows I’m talking about.

    Regardless, I think you’re probably right. The prejudice existed all along and became not respectable due partly to awful racist, sexist etc comedy. But that very same racism, sexism etc has crept back into comedy in a slightly more subtle way. It’s no longer angry old men ranting about “gays” and “blacks” and joking about beating their wives, but it’s no better for all of that. It’s pervasive and insidious and it’s not funny.

    I don’t know whether that kind of ‘humour’ reflects or steers society. I suspect it’s both. Either way, it seems like we should stop doing it.

  9. latsot says

    @7 RJW I’m agreeing with you too. I hardly ever agree with anyone about anything and here I am agreeing with two people at once. The comment was idiotic and you were right to ridicule it. We can’t blame those gun-toting war-mongering Americans for everything after all.

  10. Dunc says

    Having looked this guy up, it seems he’s using false advertising on two counts… He’s not dapper either.

  11. Bernard Bumner says

    He has also apparently cancelled a headline UK tour.

    I wonder whether this very swift and positive outcome, galvanised as it was by anow immediate public reaction to violent sexism and misogyny, would have been achievable even a year or two ago?

    This feels like a different and unexpected mood for change.

  12. says

    But at the same time, the public reaction wouldn’t exist and wouldn’t be needed if the violent sexism and misogyny hadn’t become so popular and everyday…

  13. Bernard Bumner says

    Absolutely, but the very swift resolution at least suggests that media outlets realise that they can’t hide behind ‘edgy’ in order to exploit that appetite for debasing sexism.

    It seems to me that there is a growing popular voice which will rapidly address these manifestations of that culture, and that it is being listened to. Certainly, the news media is generally willing to give positive coverage to these campaigns. Sexism and harassment are being discussed by serious news outlets in a manner which asks for solutions, rather than questioning whether the problem exists.

    I think this is a very welcome backlash, and it probably has much to do with the recent exposure of a culture of sexual abuse and assaults by celebrities, the abuse scandals in Rotherham and Rochdale, etc.

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