Skepticat_UK is

Maria MacLachlan

Accolades & Quackolades

"There are ~20 published reviews of my book, but this one must be THE BEST! THANK YOU."
Edzard Ernst

"Best blog of the day IMHO."
Simon Singh

"This blogpost is simply brilliant."
Mark Burnley

"You are a rude argumentative bully. You are a typical "skeptic" - not sceptical at all."
Andrew, anti-vaxer

"Your piece about House of Commons Science and Technology sub-Committee’s ‘evidence check’ on homeopathy was one of the best I’ve seen. Strength to your elbow."

" individual calling themselves ‘scepticat’ or ‘sceptikat’- a highly volatile dictatorial site run by a wannabe megalomaniac. A truly disturbed person with a anger management issue venting via their little site to their own personal herd of sycophants."
Centella, one of Dr Andrew Jones personal herd of sycophants.

"Excellent report, which I can vouch for completely."
Jack of Kent

"The ludicrous nature of the complaint, and some of the responses by Dr Ranj and the BBC, has already been expertly documented on the Skepticat UK blog".
Dean Burnett

"Choke on your own vomit and die in agony..."
r wesley edwards, aka @CommonCormorant, author

"A very good rebuttal…"
Anna Watson, anti-vaxer Arnica UK

"A staggering amount of pathological disbelief allied with a staggering amount of arrogance."
Antony J Palmer, homeopath

"I just love this blog, and this post is a fine example of it’s content – ‘Inside the spine wizard’s den’ – Skepticat. Why do some of us feel that we are above challenging argument and peer review? I just wish that I could write as well as some of these bloggers!"
Jonathan Hearsey, osteopath

"Skepticat is a particularly venomousness (sic) skeptic, a humanist who lives by the "golden rule", she refused to let me follow her on twitter because I am "bonkers" which may endear her to many in the chiropractic profession..."
Richard Lanigan, chiropractor

Facebook image helpfully captioned by Sandra A Hermann-Courtney (@brownbagpantry)

"Die Die die die!"
r wesley edwards, aka @CommonCormorant, author

"Loved that article. It really shows what chiropractors are really all about. What I call the "chiro show" Exposing people to totally unnecessary X-rays should be criminal. Thank you!"

"I think skepticat is plain mad at not having children of her own. Hatred projected out to the world. It's sad to see someone with so much self hatred, destroying themself internally without even realising it."
Bebo, chiropractor (Note: In fact I'm the proud mother of two brilliant children, whom I mention frequently. Glad of the excuse to do so again.)

"Hooray for Reason! Just want to thank you for writing this. Even though the arguments presented are tired, and played out, they still must be refuted."

"I understand that you have been traumatised by your experience and that this is your way of coming to terms with the emotional scars."
Stefaan Vossen, chiropractor

"All you really seem interested in is banging your repetitive drum and preaching to the converted."
Rick, osteopath

"All the entries I’ve read are excellent. I’ll be coming back to read more. Love the cat logo as well."

"Research in Homeopathy Conference - Skepticat's hilarious account. She went to it."
David Colquhoun

"Her site is Skepticat UK... she wouldn’t know a punchline if it raped her. Or maybe she’d thank it."
Scott Cappurro, comedian

"I rather love the lunacy of the anti-Homeopathists, such as yourself."
James Pannozzi, acupuncturist & would-be homeopath

"Good blog from a skeptic which examines the "science" of Homeopathy in a very detailed way. Skeptics will love this. Proponents of homeopathy? Not so much."

"I really shouldn’t waste my valuable time with someone who obviously has at the very least a borderline personality disorder."
Erika Alisuag, homeopathist

"I’m finding it difficult to come up with some suitable words to say how good and interesting your stuff is. So, in the absence of suitable hyperbole can I say what a very well written and presented blog you have here. Really well thought out and researched. And passionate about it too! Complimenti!"

"You’re whole life is worthless because you lack reason."
Antony J Palmer, homeopath

"Great stuff Skepticat."

"When you have learnt some big words and also studied your history books you’ll find that the world was once thought to be flat…by people just like you."
Sarah Hamilton, homeopath

"Thanks for keeping the banner of reason flying high."
John Willis Lloyd

"This is just a general comment. I love this well-written an unfussy little blog (I don’t mean little in a derogatory way, but in the sense it’s not bombastic, self-important and posturing). Excellent material and a worthwhile focus, keep up the good work."

"Her website is a temple to diatribe – I have no sympathy for the homeopaths, etc, with whom she battles, but she clearly gets off on confrontation."
JF Derry

"Skepticat is strictly logical and attacks in unparliamentary words what she deems to be “quackery” – or suggestions that she sounds a little strident."
Andy Reporter

"LOVE the badass attitude! Seriously...KEEP IT UP!"

"You were a playful little diversion for a. moment, but I do have better things to do with my time than waste more than half an hour of it stooping down to play your ego supporting self delusional mind games……"
Susan Elizabeth, homeopathist

"An excellent read, thanks for taking thr time to compose it."
Alan C

"You need to do a course in anger management."
katenut, nutritionist

"FWIW I think you manage your anger rather well...mostly by focusing it into a thin, narrow beam of incisive rage which you then use to inscribe words on screen. ;)"

"Excellent description of the events."
Simon Perry

"You seem to be of probably well-meaning, but bigoted and fundamentalist disposition, just parroting slogans from others without any really knowledge or insight yourself."
Neil Menzies

"Superb, as usual"

"You seem only interested in ranting against an enemy which you are apparently still struggling to come to terms with “fifteen years” later."
Rick, osteopah

"Bravo, great post!"

"One day if you are not very careful you will be left behind in the dark ages. I’m sure this will not be printed..but hope it is read by you poor little scaredy cats."
Sarah Hamilton, homeopath

"Brilliant piece!"

"While you babble on like a total airhead about Myhill, you ignore the real doctors who are a danger in the UK".
struck-off doctor, Rita Pal, 'NHS whistle-blower'

"I sincerely hope I never get to your stage of wilful ignorance. You know absolutely diddly squat about the subject but you think your opinion is the only opinion."
Antony J Palmer, homeopath

"Keep up the spin, you manky old chicken's foot."
JB, chiropractor

"I am forced to conclude you are blogging on behalf of a specific entity that does wish to remain anonymous."
Antony J Palmer, homeopath

"The person writing all this negative press on homeopathy must be getting a big fat check from one of the pharmaceutical companies who would dearly love to push homeopathy off the map."
Erika Alisuag

"Such reporting lands you clearly in the realm of fundamentalist extremism–much noise, no substance, and money from those who have something to sell. It is so unfortunate that your listening skills are in need of repair."
Tanya Marquette, homeopath

"She seems to revel in presenting the many insults that she has attracted as a column of “Quackolades” on her site, as if war wounds on display,"
JF Derry, self-publicist

"Oh shut up SK. You write hot air and spew rubbish as usual."
Rita Pal again.

The night Scott Capurro died

I’m seeing a guy who is so black, he’s purple. It’s like fucking a mood ring. I can’t wait until he dies so I can see what colour he turns.

It was at this point in Scott Capurro’s gig at the Hampstead Comedy Club last  night that I decided to switch off, get out my ipod and play a game of poker. I’m not easily offended but I am easily bored and last night I was bored out of my skull watching Capurro tossing off. Seriously, he reminded me of a saddo in a dirty raincoat getting off on revealing his willy to an unsuspecting crowd, whose unappreciative reaction makes him want to jerk off even harder.

In spite of the venue — a small upstairs room at the grotty Pembroke Castle pub in Chalk Farm — it had been a good evening until Capurro came on. The first act — Lloyd Langford, a charming if gawky young Welshman — had been engaging and funny in a gentle and meandering sort of way and, even though he didn’t exactly kill us, he was well-received by the laid-back audience. Kerry Godliman came next and she was great. A woman who can be funny about women without mentioning periods or chocolate is a rare treasure.

Capurro started in a way I would describe as promising. He’d done a gig in Sheffield and it hadn’t gone well. “Are there any Northern cunts in here tonight?” he asked. (Now, why would that line appeal to a room full of Southerners?) Then began the decline, slow at first but gradually picking up speed until he finally hurtled through the bleary line where humour ends and plain nastiness begins. And there he stayed, wading deeper and deeper into the sewage, even though hardly anyone was laughing and some us were jostling past the stage in our hurry to get out.

Afterwards, we struggled to remember any of the gags, probably because they hadn’t made us or many others in the audience laugh. What we remember are the themes: ethnicity, gay sex, kiddy fiddling… At one point, he’d mentioned the name ‘Maddy’ and I couldn’t think who he was talking about. Then he said something about it being obviously the parents who’d killed her and how he was sick of the sight of her face on the front of his newspapers. Oh, that Maddy! Evidently, the fact that Maddy’s face hasn’t been on the front our newspapers for quite some time wasn’t reason enough for Capurro to bother updating his material and he was going to milk the story for all it was worth.

Here’s an example, “Little black girls disappear every day and nobody misses them, especially when they disappear at night.” Yeah, OK, got it, if only because it’s a variation of a joke heard in the school playground in the early 1970s. The only other gag I remember from the whole set was one about China having a low rate of road traffic accidents: “Must be because they kill all the baby girls”. Hey — a new joke about women drivers! Yawn. These jokes were at the mild end of the Capurro spectrum and, as far as I’m concerned, they are well on the right side of the divide between comedic and just vile, even if they’re not side-splittingly funny, or funny at all. Everything else he said I remember as a confusion of spunking cocks, paedophilia, “niggers” and tiny, slitty-eyed “chinks”.

I belong firmly in the camp that believes that, when it comes to humour, no topic is off-limits and that how far a comic can go with a topic is a matter for his or her professional judgement. We want comics to be original and that does mean pushing the boundaries sometimes. One of my favourite comics, Jimmy Carr, occasionally pushes further than I feel comfortable with but that’s OK with me because he never loses sight of the fact that, overall, he has to be funny. If he fails to make us laugh, he can fuck off, basically. Or his audience will.

Scott Capurro did lose sight of that fact and much of the audience did fuck off. When the first batch of people started leaving, my husband tried to drag me out of my seat and join them. But I didn’t have my boots on — I’d worn them because it was rainy, then removed them inside the club because it was so hot — and I didn’t fancy walking past the stage holding them in my hand. And, anyway, I was engrossed in my poker game, so he sat down again. There was still a part of me thinking that, although Capurro hadn’t appeared to realise he was dying on his arse, the walk-out might serve as an impetus for change and he’d start being funny.

But as the group of four walked past the stage, one of them told him how disgusting she’d found him and it was his reaction that was the last straw for me. On youtube there are a few videos showing the different ways stand-up comics deal with hecklers and, in my view, it’s this more than anything else that separates the giants from the pygmies in the world of stand-up comedy. Comics that start shrieking abuse and threatening violence stop looking professional and start looking pathetic. Capurro’s ranting about the “Scottish bitch” and the violence he would visit upon her if he got the chance, tipped the balance in favour of putting away the ipod and pulling on my boots. As we shuffled past the stage my Scottish husband loudly gave his own verdict on the performance and I was torn between wanting to stay for a moment to hear what Capurro would now say about him and relishing the experience of walking out of a comedy act halfway through, something I’d never done in my life before. I went with the latter and in no time at all it seemed that half the audience had followed us out.

During the impromptu post-mortem taking place outside the pub, several of us were asked for our views on what we’d just seen by someone whose partner was writing a piece for the Guardian newspaper about humour and offensiveness. Capurro, it was generally felt, had gone way too far. He was compared by someone to Bernard Manning, though at least Manning was funny sometimes. The “Scottish bitch” made it clear she thought gags about abusing children were beyond the pale, etc. We all felt cheated because we’d paid to be entertained and hadn’t been.

But, to be honest, I couldn’t say that I’d been offended by any of the gags. I’d just been utterly, utterly bored by them. When I got home I had a look at the wiki article about him. Prominently featured is this quote from an interview with the Evening Standard:

“I don’t give a shit about those who don’t like my work,” he snaps. “I’m never going to win them over anyway, so why bother? My work is for a discerning audience who don’t have knee-jerk responses.”

Which is probably the funniest thing he’s ever said.

Related post:

28/7/09: Dave Gorman has blogged his opinion on the Guardian article, which is here.

New related post by Skepticat!

Scott Capurro: the cremation

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