“Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth”
(1 Corinthians 13:6, King James Bible)
Using a quote from the bible in a review of a show by an atheist could, I suspect, be considered trolling. Selecting a verse from the New Testament in a review of a show by a Jewish performer could, I again suspect, could be considered to be trolling.
I am not a troll.
That verse from Corinthians captures something that lies at the very heart of this powerfully moving and hilariously funny show from David Baddiel; that the truth is something to cherish and to celebrate and that “iniquity” (bible speak for trolling) is something to strike down with furious anger…or a really good joke.
By his own admission Baddiel spends a lot of time on Twitter, he may even be addicted, and, as a consequence, he has seen first hand the multitude of forms that trolls take and the ways in which they can bruise people, upset people and even inspire real world horrors. This show is an attempt to shine a light into the darkest corners of social media but it is also a brave attempt at encouraging people to step away from those corners and to try to find something better within themselves.
It would have been easy, possibly too easy, to simply present the audience with a series of nasty, ill informed and vulgar outbursts from the myriad silos that are home to the trolls but Baddiel isn’t interested in the easy option, he wants to do something important with this show…he wants to effect some sort of change. Central to the success of that is his willingness to show the ugly on the left and the right; no soft option gammon baiting here and no endless stream of Trump attacks either. Instead he guides the audience through the filthy waters of Twitter and repeatedly shows how comedy can be used to beat the trolls.
Baddiel manages to draw big laughs throughout but he is also able to stun the room into silence by confronting us with just how easily evil can spring from a limited number of characters on a forum that should, really, be about building communities, friendships and sharing photographs of full English breakfasts. At one point something so utterly vile is displayed on the screen and the entire audience stops breathing…just for a few seconds but long enough to impress upon you how important it is to be, well, better.
As fascinating as the show itself is Baddiel, he seems like a fiercely intelligent man for sure but also a man of great warmth and compassion. His love of his family, his desire to find the funny, his willingness to laugh at himself and his ability to acknowledge his own failings on social media all leave you with the notion that he is…good.
In a world where, increasingly, it seems people really are rejoicing in iniquity it was a wonderful thing to be in the presence of someone who was more concerned with celebrating the importance of truth and who made me laugh long and hard as he did so.