The latest Phil Evans column from the South Wales Evening Post


The latest Phil Evans column from the South Wales Evening Post.

Comedian Phil Evans is from Ammanford. He is known as the man who puts the ‘cwtsh’ into comedy.


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Until last week, I’d never heard of Jodie Ginsberg or “The Index On Censorship”, the organisation of which she‘s the Chief Executive.
But in the wake of the barbaric attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, she made a comment that, as a comedian who has to walk the tightrope between being ‘edgy’ and not deliberately offending people, I found very profound.
“The ability to express ourselves freely is fundamental to a free society.
“This includes the freedom to publish, to satirise, to joke, to criticise, even when that might cause offence to others.
“Those who wish to silence free speech must never be allowed to prevail”.
On stage, I’m able to say practically anything I want. I have, as Ms Ginsberg eloquently states, ‘The freedom to joke‘ - and I’m truly grateful to have that privilege.
The cartoonists and writers of Charlie Hebdo also had the freedom to joke. But the cost of that freedom was their lives, which I’m still finding difficult to comprehend.
A comedian’s joke or observational routine may touch on something that’s been troubling or irritating members of the audience, who are unable to – or are possibly too scared to – articulate their thoughts about it in public.
A comedian doesn’t have that burden. Their main worry is that their humorous take on the subject will connect with the majority of the audience and create the sound the comedian lives for: roars of laughter.
A successful comedian can’t be a shrinking violet. He or she wouldn’t last five minutes if they were. So, it’s inevitable that they will deal with tricky subjects like sex, religion and death.
I’m able to speak about the unspeakable and because I’m in a theatre or club, microphone in my hand, treating the matter in a comedic way, it can be a cathartic experience for the audience.
They laugh because they think it’s funny and because someone has put into words what they were thinking.
Some comedians, who shall remain shameless, say things that were once referred to as ‘locker room conversations’ between men in private. Now they’re the core of their stage acts. They don’t appeal to me, but thousands of people pack venues to watch them turn the air blue.
Fair enough. I just don’t watch their TV shows or buy tickets for their tours. It’s called being tolerant. A word not in everyone’s dictionary, it would seem.
Since the Charlie Hebdo incident, many newspapers have quoted Voltaire’s famous comment “I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.
Fine words.
But they were not Voltaire’s. They were written by his biographer Evelyn Beatrice Hall. But as Voltaire believed in tolerance, he wouldn’t be too upset at this literary injustice.
What happened in Paris last week deeply affected me, so I’ve created my own quote which I’ll leave with you.
“You may disapprove of the thoughts inside my head, but that doesn’t give you the right to put a bullet in it”.

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Post Christmas Blues:
You can tell Christmas is over, you’ve put the Hoover on 14 times already, but you’ll still be finding pine needles in the carpet in April! The decorations have all gone back up the attic and the kids have already started writing their Santa list for this year.
The real clue that we are suffering from the post Christmas blues has to be the appearance of Easter Eggs in the supermarket, in some cases even before the Valentine’s cards appear!
And while we’re on the subject, have you bought anything for your other half for St Dwynwen’s Day yet?
Welsh St Valentines Day is on 25th January, my Love and Laughter show is in the Lyric Theatre in Carmarthen on Saturday 24th January. There, I’ve just solved your gift problems for you in once sentence.
Spring seems a long way off with the dark mornings, wet and windy weather still with us, so why not book a night out at the theatre to cheer you up? A good night out with friends may be just what you need to banish those post Christmas blues!

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A&E:
It’s all over the news. Our hospitals are under pressure again, waiting times in A&E are getting longer and the ambulances are queuing up outside.
But are we creating some of these problems ourselves? Are we simply going to A&E because it’s late and the GP is closed? On the very rare occasions that I have had to visit the Accident and Emergency department of a hospital, there are often people sitting there for a very long time looking relatively “well”.
Surely the clue is in the title? Accident and Emergency.
It’s been well publicised in the press and social media recently that there are many alternatives to simply popping into A&E.
Next time you have toothache or an upset tummy, ask yourself is A&E really the right choice?
Look up your local health board website and you will see the huge range of alternatives to blocking up your local emergency department with an illness that could easily and quickly be dealt with somewhere else....
Let’s help the hospitals to help us!

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You can follow Phil Evans on Twitter @philevanswales

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