A Maltese View of a Comedian’s View


I am patriotic and nationalistic (read jingoistic) to the extent that my hackles still rise when a foreigner pokes fun at us as a nation. And yet, I am the first one to do so myself – because I am so proudly Maltese, it’s like when a black person calls himself a nigger, but riles when someone who is not black, does.

So when people who had been to Michael McIntyre’s show gushed at his wit, I had to ask what it was that made him so hilarious.

It was the usual drubbing (in a stand-up comedy show, not a roast), and, hey, some people even assumed that he had collated his material on the way to the venue from the airport (“He’s that good!”). I am sorry to burst these people’s bubbles – but we all do our homework if we have to appear in print – or in public.  Six years ago, the gentleman described by The Guardian as “a floppy-haired berk who has built a career out of listing things people do”, was already cracking jokes about “Malta – it’s a very small country.”

Oh, and by the way – he has at least two fair dinkum founts of information, as well as the media and the press.  These, however, forbore to tell him it was Ta’ Qali, and not Mdina, as billed in his website, where he would be performing.

Those who’d rather have listed to Lee Mack and Rob Brydon, would probably know that in 2011 Kirsty Young, presenter on Desert Island Discs, quoted Stewart Lee’s description of McIntyre as someone given to “spoon-feeding his audience warm diarrhoea”. The listicle routine, moreover, was bound to irritate fellow comedians, who accuse him of “playing safe”; he puts this down to ‘professional jealousy’, partly because in 2012, he was reported to be the highest-grossing comedian in the world.

I noticed that he studiously avoided certain topics trending in Malta, and went for the usual roads and food instead. Could his rivals have been slightly correct? Would you buy a used car from a man who hates Kinnie?

But I digress.

McIntyre made it a point to call Maltese women beautiful rather than fat and mostly short. He also said that our men introduce us several times, to the same people. This does not say much for their mental alacrity. Mind you, he did say that in hotel rooms, kettles have to be filled from the bathroom sink, which made it impossible to fill them to capacity.  Hey… fill them as much as you can, and then top up with a glassful or two of water.

McIntyre seems to think that road-rage in Malta manifests itself merely as a Whacky Race. Would that it were so.

The next time McIntyre visits Malta, would you pay to be called a pastizz as a Parthian shot, by a Ronnie Corbett lookalike?


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