Originally not aired on ??/??/????
Okay, I admit. I hold my hands up and I admit that it’s not been good enough. So far this series of the podcast has been very people-heavy, and I as the host have a responsibility to ensure there’s more diversity.
But what can I do? Everyone in comedy seems to be a person; it’s completely flooded with them. There’s gotta be ways of redressing the balance, but quotas seem patronising and problematic, and also if I choose to have a non-person on over a more deserving and hardworking person, then isn’t that unfair?
I was really stressing about it the other day, when my intern Pablo received an email from a certain canine.
“What do you think of this, Eric?”
I looked at the name. I gulped.
“Do you really think this is a good idea, Pablo?”
“It’s worth a try.”
So it’s with trepidation that I introduce today’s guest on the unrecorded podcast “Comedians Outside Edinburgh Getting Gingerbread Lattes”, the highly controversial Douglas Trev. Half Poodle and half right-wing extremist, Douglas is a crossbreed, and the thing he seems most cross about in his sets is immigration.
“Douglas, before we move on, we need to address what happened on Russell Howard.”
“Fine with me, Eric,” he said, sniffing his gingerbread latte. “By the way, just call me Doug. There’s no need to be so formal.”
Now attempting to make a comeback, Doug attracted controversy in 2016 after his appearance on Russell Howard’s Stand Up Central, where he went on what the Guardian described as a “racist tirade.” With a joke about how “Shih Tzus need to go back to their own country and get eaten” many saw his routine as a dog whistle for people or animals with similar bigoted views. Unfortunately for anyone wanting to see for themselves what happened, Comedy Central have made sure the clip has been wiped from the face of the Earth.
“I think it was all blown out of proportion, Eric,” he said. “Firstly, it was a joke. Secondly, I was trying to make a wider point about immigration. It can be difficult if you’re from a small village like I am, and you start to see the population around you changing rapidly. Dogs from Korea, Dogs from China, Dogs from Scotland. You start thinking to yourself, ‘Is someone gonna get a leash on this situation?’”
Doug was immediately dropped from his agency Woof Woof Talent (an agency that looks after a plethora of canine celebrities, such as the dog from the Churchill adverts, and Marley, from Marley & Me) and he was left to rebuild his career alone. Now three years on from the incident, Doug’s comedy has recently taken a progressive turn, a move seen by some as a cynical attempt to capitalise on woke culture.
“So, are you woke now, Doug?”
Doug laughed, then took a lick of his drink, possibly to buy himself some thinking time.
“Listen, Eric,” he said. “That whole Russell Howard thing changed me. The way everyone piled on me afterwards. The way I went from man’s best friend, to suddenly a dog that no one wanted to take for a walk. But you know who didn’t give up on me? Other dogs. Through all the hate, they stood by me, on all four legs. They asked me if I was okay, they sniffed my bum, they cared. That’s when I realised, I shouldn’t be criticising other dogs, no matter where they come from. It’s people that are the problem.”
As he was saying this, his tail began to wag. I felt we were getting to somewhere interesting.
“What’s wrong with people?” I asked.
“Nothing on the individual level, but culturally attitudes need to change. As dogs, people are holding us back, and not just when they have us on leashes. Everything we do is judged by how it affects humans. If they like what we do, we get a treat, if they don’t, we get taken off the telly. We’re taught we need to please people, but really we should empower ourselves.”
“Yeah but haven’t you got a pretty sweet deal?” I said, trying to counter his point. “Especially in 2019. Most of you dogs don’t have to work. You’re fed, groomed. Everything’s done for you and you get to stay at home.”
His tail stopped wagging. I could tell he wasn’t pleased with what I said.
“Put it this way,” he said. “How would you feel if no one took you seriously. I’m supposed to be cute; I’m not allowed to have ideas for myself. And when I do use my brain then I’m scrutinised like no person would be. Do you really think the blowback would’ve been the same if a human said what I said on Russell Howard?”
He makes a good point. I’ve seen people make jokes on the circuit about dogs with impunity. But as soon as it’s a dog criticising another group of dogs, it’s much more of an issue.
“So how are you going change attitudes?”
“Well, hopefully through my comedy,” he said. “I wanna talk about serious issues, such as domestic pet violence, but I wanna make it funny at the same time. I want to be a role model for other dogs who feel oppressed by a society dominated by humans. When I was starting in comedy, I had Dogs to look up to, like Santa’s Little Helper from The Simpsons, and Brian from Family Guy. If I can be that inspiration for other Dogs, then I’ll be very happy.”
His tail was wagging and his tongue was out. I looked at him and smiled. I could feel his genuine passion, and I could see for myself that anyone criticising Doug must’ve got the wrong dog.
“Doug,” I said. “I don’t know if this is patronising, but you’ve really inspired me today, and I’d like to stroke you.”
As I said this, he ran under the table, over to my side and jumped on my lap. I laughed and he licked my face.
“Thank you for coming on the show. You’re a very good boy, Douglas Trev.”
“Hey, you too, Eric,” he said. “Humans aren’t all bad.”
Doug’s new special “Dougie Style” premieres on Netflix UK & Ireland January 7th before streaming globally on January 10th. Make sure to check it out!
Tune in next time!