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That joke ain’t funny anymore…

The Hoff has taken charge of his own image and has well and truly hit the mainstream. Is he still funny?

Published on October 6th 2006.


That joke ain’t funny anymore…

‘Garlic Bread? Garlic? Bread?’ See – it’s just not funny anymore. Especially when the group of middle aged people at the table next to you in a restaurant are saying it again and again to enormous roars of laughter, as though they’ve just discovered the funniest thing in the world.

When comedy catchphrases or cult TV programmes hit the mainstream, they lose that delicate sparkle that made them funny in the first place. Little Britain, for example, has now become an annoying resource for old people with no sense of humour to try and appear hip. As soon as my dad and his friends started congratulating each other for saying ‘I’m a lady, don’t you know’, it was all over in my eyes.

Unfortunately, a similar thing has now happened with the former cult hero David Hasselhoff, aka ‘The Hoff’. The Hoff has been a kitsch idol for years now, and the sheer mention of him used to be hilarious. Used to be.

Four years ago, my friend had a Hoff t-shirt. That was funny. The Hoff was funny because he wasn’t funny – because he was the ultimate embodiment of corny cool. He was the unlikely pin up of student houses and amateur websites everywhere, proudly sporting little pants and a hairy chest. And best of all, it seemed that he was blissfully unaware of his cult status. Or if he was aware, he was sat rocking bitterly in his Beverly Hills House, reliving the time that he sang on the Berlin Wall and annoyed that people weren’t taking his work seriously. But to be honest, we didn’t really care what he was doing now. That wasn’t what interested us. We were amused by the Hoff of old – or rather what the Hoff of old embodied - rather than by David Hasselhoff himself.

Cult status is a tightrope. It depends on the person/tv programme/band remaining just underground, just out of reach of the mainstream. But The Hoff has well and truly fallen off the tightrope. This morning, on my way to work I heard that Radio One are having a Hoff day. Which basically means that throughout the day they will be talking about how funny David Hasselhoff is, and that we should all rush out and buy his single. Granted, (and don’t tell anyone I said this) the song is pretty catchy. But how can a cult icon remain as such when everyone is in on the joke - including David Hasselhoff himself?

David Hasselhoff has latched onto his cult status and is now making himself a lot of money from it. I say fair enough – he does have a right to make money, after all it is his image that’s driving the whole industry. But now that he’s there propelling the whole thing, it isn’t funny. He’s trying too hard please. He’s brought out a book, he’s producing a musical. How can we laugh at the Hoff when he is trying to push his own cheesy image upon us?

The Hoff was funny because he wasn’t funny. He seemed to take himself very seriously, which made him all the more hilarious. Now that the world’s media is telling everyone to find him funny, the Hoff image is losing its shine. The Hoff wave has ridden its course and has now come crashing down onto the beach, where it’s gently lapping on the shore with every man and his dog happily paddling in it. Knight Rider and Baywatch, we’ll always love you. But David Hasselhoff, get outta my car.

Jayne Robinson
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