Culture

Vagina Lids And Cervix Grabbing: ‘My Dad Wrote A Porno’ Shows Us Why Sex Is Inherently Funny

Why is everyone so obsessed with 'Belinda Blinked' and her cervix?

By now, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno, which after launching in 2015, topped podcast charts around the world and gained the horrified admiration of huge crowds and Hollywood stars, including Elijah Woods, Michael Sheen and Daisy Ridley.

The podcast is almost self explanatory — the host, Jamie Morton, discovered that his dad wrote a book of erotic literature under the pseudonym ‘Rocky Flintstone’. The book is called Belinda Blinked, and Jamie and his friends, Alice and James, read a chapter every week for their enthralled listeners.

The book’s plot is difficult to describe, because it’s so ludicrous, but it essentially follows the sexual adventures of the protagonist, Belinda Blumenthal, who mostly uses her erotic exploits to get ahead in the highly competitive and sexy world of pots and pans sales. The podcast revolves around the hosts commentary and earnest reactions to Belinda’s exploits, which tend to range from disgust to incredulity.

It’s genuinely one of the funniest things you’ll ever hear, and regularly causes me to laugh out loud while walking down dark streets at night, creeping out everyone around me. Once, on a packed train carriage, my efforts at trying to stop laughing in public caused me to instead make a low, continuous “hnnnnnnnnnnnngher” sound, like a grumpy dog being woken up.

It’s a funny podcast — but why, exactly?

Sex As Comedy

Sex has never been a particularly difficult subject for comedy, as it seems to be an almost inherently funny act. As far as I can tell, the entire British canon of comedy grew from how funny the word ‘shagging’ is. Yet not all sex is funny — some sex is an erotic act that happens when a mummy and a daddy love each other very much, or need to earn a bunch of money on RedTube.

The gap between hilarious sex and sincerely erotic sex seems at first glance to be rather wide, or else the human race might have laughed themselves into an early extinction instead of procreating. However, experience has shown us that in fact, the line between laughing and gasping can be ridiculously thin; that sometimes sex only has to go slightly wrong before it’s hilarious.

It’s in representations of sex where this becomes the most dramatic. It’s rare that the private act of physical sex becomes a cultural phenomenon, unless there’s some kind of hidden camera and streaming prank going on. And while there definitely have been some great comedic sex scenes, it’s the ones that were meant to be earnest, serious or at least sexy, and mistakenly become funny that are truly the best. And that’s why Belinda Blinked by ‘Rocky Flintstone’ is one of the unintentionally funniest books in the world.

Why Is Belinda Blinked So Funny?

The author — and father of Jamie, let’s never forget that — decided to write the book as a part of his retirement, after getting excited about the idea of self-publishing. As far as we can tell this is a real attempt at writing erotica, a book meant to sexually titillate its audience.

Upon first hearing about the podcast, I envisioned a mean-spirited concept where a garbage son and his friends mocked a shy dad for writing erotic literature. As someone who has worked in the romance and erotica publishing industry for years, and knows both how wonderful its authors generally are and also how widely shit upon the genre is, I wanted no part of it. But after listening to an episode out of curiosity, I discovered the key difference — it’s terribly written erotica.

Belinda Blinked isn’t just a trainwreck, it’s an absolute disaster of a novel. It’s quite clear that Rocky Flintstone has no idea of how an erotica novel should function, or even what constitutes erotic behaviour/how basic anatomy works. The book features weird and clumsy descriptions of “vaginal lids popping” and a guy grabbing a woman’s cervix. Breasts are described both as “hanging like pomegranates” and also being “draped” across people. Then of course, there’s this line: “She took him completely into her mouth, tasting the flesh of mankind”.

I don’t want to give away too much plot, but there are such erotically charged moments as being strapped to a muddy trellis in a hedge-maze and being fucked by a micro-penis, described as looking like “a vole”. There’s a woman who gets boinked so thoroughly her hair falls out. The efforts made to be sexy fail entirely.

But it doesn’t stop there — vast swathes of the book deal with the business side of the pots and pan company almost exclusively, including entire chapters where Belinda will be dealing with her fussy regional sales managers, which can be only described as stupendously boring prose. It’s a weird milkshake of ingredients that all combine to make pure comedy.

The comedy maker inside me was upset that someone could accidentally be funnier than anything I’ve ever written on purpose, but was also slightly mollified by the realisation that reading Belinda Blinked on your own is not anywhere near as funny as hearing it read by the author’s son. Somehow that connection is integral to your reception of it. It removes the thrust of things from being a global gang-up on a bad writer, and turns it into a worldwide marvel at the sheer folly of weird dads.

Rocky himself seems to love the attention, and doesn’t seem to have had his writing aspirations quashed in any way; we’re told there’s multiple Belinda Blinked sequels, including Belinda Blinked 2, which the current season of the podcast is currently groaning its way through. You can probably tell from the nom de plume ‘Rocky Flintstone’ that the author has a certain degree of self-awareness, and can probably take the joke quite well. However, he definitely didn’t write it as a joke. It’s a crucial distinction.

The Pursuit Of Sexiness

A great example of the pursuit of sexiness (which sounds like an ‘R’ rated Will Smith film) failing to reach its stated goal is the Bad Sex in Fiction Awards which were recently announced for 2016. These annual awards nominate terrible sex scenes in literary and commercial fiction — but not, it’s important to point out, in erotica.

This year there are a swathe of nominations, including a hefty dose of prize winning literary authors, including Jonathan Safran Foer, who had this immortal line considered for the award: “He jerked off with the determination of someone within sight of Everest’s summit, having lost all his friends and Sherpas, having run out of supplemental oxygen, but preferring death to failure”.

Hot stuff. Unlike My Dad Wrote a Porno, there is less of a feeling of laughing along with the author, and definitely more of a feeling of laughing at them. But the allowance here comes from the idea that these are professional, fancy, serious career authors, who in all their sincerity, have written some truly hilarious representations of sex. We are punching up, because these people possess poise and probably get invited to a lot of important literary dinner parties.

Rocky Flintstone, being both a self-published recently retired amateur, doesn’t deserve that level of scrutiny. Luckily, not only does My Dad Wrote a Porno focus more on the hilarity of a dad writing sex, we very much feel like the ‘victim’ might be Jamie Morton himself — forced to confront his dad’s weird understanding of sexuality and the human body. The podcast is a meditation on the awkwardness of confronting the idea of your parents as sexual beings.

In comedy, we’re taught that humour comes from the juxtaposition of stakes, from the friction caused between rapid reversals of fortune. I think that sex has the potential to be so funny because we invest so much in it. I also think that a lot of this investment is private — we don’t wear our thirst on our sleeves all the time. Sex can have unprecedented levels of intimacy, both emotionally and physically. We talk, think and obsesses about it all the time. It can be addictive, transformative, fun and pleasurable. At the least, you have to show all your weird bits to another person, and you have the privilege of seeing theirs in return.

Baldly put: the stakes are so high that the friction generated from the reversal of sexy to unsexy are off the charts, and can generate a large amount of laughter. Laughs as large as the rivets that had held the fateful hull of the Titanic together. And, if you’re not aware, that’s a direct quote from Belinda Blinked. It was used to describe how hard someone’s nipples are.

You can catch up on My Dad Wrote A Porno here and listen to the first episode below.

Patrick Lenton is a writer of theatre and fiction. He blogs at The Spontaneity Review and tweets inanity from @patricklenton.