Andrew Lawrence: Facing up to the ugly truth about television
"A good face for radio." That's the dependable, self-deprecating line that has served DJs well for decades, the suggestion being, of course, that they're too ugly for television. In reality, if someone's on the radio it's generally because they've chosen to be on the radio . . . or because they've been on television loads and everyone's sick of the sight of them.
Being physically unattractive has never been a bar to being on television. A plethora of household celebrities leap into my mind at this point. To name names would be unpleasant, but you know who I mean.
The majority of successful comedians are odd-looking, short, fat men. The reason they become comedians is because women often claim to find a good sense of humour attractive in a man. What they mean is that when they find a man attractive, they'll laugh at any old nonsense that comes out of his mouth.
Odd-looking, short, fat men endure years of frustration, forever dropping hilarious, ingenious bon mots into everyday conversation only to have women stare blankly at them as if they're speaking Arabic. So they get up on stage and prove to the world how funny they are.
Occasionally a conventionally attractive comedian will become enormously successful. This is because witless TV commissioners think the comedian's good looks will secure impressive ratings for their TV show and bring in a lot of tasty advertising revenue. Then, after vast TV exposure, these attractive TV comedians go out and do a live gig and the absence of laughter is drowned out by the hordes of screaming hormonal teenagers overcome by excitement and sexual longing.
These comedians are little better than prostitutes and their agents and publicists are essentially just pimps. The whole thing is rank and unethical and stinks to high heaven. Although I would say that, of course, given that I've got the sort of face you'd normally only find carved in stone on a door knocker to an old haunted house. Not that I'm bitter . . .
Andrew Lawrence - Too Ugly For Television, Pleasance Courtyard, until August 29, 9.20pm, 10-11.50, 0131-226 0000