Any politician who appeared in a school production of the musical Dazzle in the 1980s must be shitting themselves today. I hope my past never comes out. I was Sam Galactic in this poorly judged but surprisingly popular Star Trek spoof, so my conscience is clear as my face had only race appropriate make-up put upon it. But I did share the stage with James who played “Bones”the medical officer, who would sing “Dem Bones, dem bones” and whose skin colour was not the same as the actor who portrayed and Julian who played the “alien”Chop Suey, who sang “Chicken Chow Mein put hair on chest.. Velly good for dandluff too”and whose skin took on a different hue to his own. I assume both of them will do the decent thing and resign from whatever job they are doing now.
But I can not distance myself too much. Any read of my teenage diary reveals what an awful young man I was in almost every respect - though I hope some of it was an attempt at humour or satire. But not all of it.
It was 1983 and I don’t think anyone even suggested that what we were doing anything inappropriate. By 2001 when Justin Trudeau was doing his thing I think I’d have had more of an idea that we’d been involved in something deeply wrong and shameful, though Little Britain was testing the water as to whether we’d reached a point where a white actor could apply black face…
It was quite a piece of work. Amazingly you can still apply for the licence to perform this piece. https://www.samuelfrench.co.uk/p/4996/dazzle and the website says there are no special cautions. Unless there’s been a heavy rewrite I would argue with that. And the fact that they haven’t updated the name of the character Sekurikor suggests they aren’t that bothered about bringing it into the 20th Century. I’d be really interested to find out when the last performance of this show was (there seems to be another Dazzle Musical out there, that looks wholesome and harmless and non-racist, but I haven’t seen it so can’t be sure). I might revive it for the Edinburgh Fringe. Or maybe someone needs to do for Dazzle what Galaxy Quest did for Star Trek.
I don’t know if we should be held accountable for sins of the past, especially if we have learned and repented, but then again I am not sure how much I want to trust someone who thought this was worth doing repeatedly just 18 years ago. Like all the stuff we get angry about these days, it’s a bit more complex than the knee jerk reaction. But still, fucking Hell.
Up to Leicester today for another RHLSTP tour show and a decent crowd of over 300 (I think certainly the best I have ever managed in this city) and great guests Jenny Eclair and Grace Petrie. The most exciting thing for me was that James the tour manager was able to park the car on the stage (behind the back drop) even though we were up on the first floor, thanks to a car lift which was almost exactly the same width as my car. If I had been travelling on my own I can tell you I would absolutely have been unable to reverse into this space, but James managed it (though not easily).
The shows were good too though, covering some serious topics, but with good laughs too and many opportunities for me to vent my anger about Leicester stealing Richard of YORK’s bones (there’s a clue in the name).
We’ve reached the halfway point of the latest RHLSTP Kickstarter, but we basically need another 600 people to get on board. If you have enjoyed these blogs and the podcasts and never donated before then please consider chucking us a few quids.
Nice interview about my podcast empire (and A LOT about Stone Clearing) here
My appearance on Tea With Alice with the super-smart Alice Fraser is here.