Sometimes it is great. Maybe I have become immune because I live in Dublin where it is used in so many circumstances that its meaning almost always depends on the context. Sometimes being told to fuck off is a friendly farewell full of smiles. You can't really say the same for Fotherington Thomas, poor bloke.
But generally, I have some reservations about the seeming need for bawdy/rude/offensive material. Because it appears more on TV, it is no longer cutting edge in live performances, so the live shows up their level of distasteful/shocking material - because it is tradition that live shows do things you can't do on TV, right? Audiences expect it. Performers enjoy it. But it means some performances go much further than is funny, in my opinion .
Two examples of live performances: I've seen Jimmy Carr loads of times. I was excited for him when he got on TV, even if they weren't necessarily shows I liked, he deserved the success, he was the funniest thing on the circuit. But I won't go to one of his shows again. The last one I went to was lightyears away from the first one. Big theatre venue v little comedy club, long time padded out to justify ticket price v short and sweet and part of a line up, as befits the nominal few quid charged at the door, but most essentially mysoginistic rude jokes that I can hear for free in the local pub v witty one liners that used shocking/offensive material so cleverly my face ached from laughing.
Then, very disappointingly for me, earlier this year I went to see David Sedaris at one of his meet and greet and read and tell stories evenings. I met him, and we greeted, and he read some stuff very very very well (unfortunately most of it also very very very well known so limited laugh opportunities) but his big finale was a joke he told us he had been sent to him in an email recently. It was one of those jokes you see all over the internet and very rude - and honestly not funny unless you are getting completely drunk out of your mind on whiskey with a very old friend - and then, I admit, it is actually quite funny. But not in the National Concert Hall when you had gone to hear, see, and admire the person you thought was the greatest wit of a generation.
Sedaris was excellent, by the way, after he had finished his set list of readings and rude bad jokes, when he just relaxed and offered to answer any questions from the audience, whereupon he was asked a series of God awful inane (sometimes insane) questions by obvious groupees, and all his replies turned the questions to gold as he spoke with great sincerity, and wisdom, and enormous wit, and forgot to be rude, unless you count withering put downs, but I don't.
It's Mr O'Gynist I worry about. No one ever talks about him.
Your're right though. Some dialects carry it off beautifully. Rather like when Italians swear, to our uninitiated ears - it sounds like poetry! I'm slightly jealous of your getting out to see things, it's been a long time since we had amass "Going out" and saw Jeremy Hardy, Vampire's Rock, Barry Cryer and the Queen Tribute lot all in the same year.
I think Jimmy Carr looks like Helen Willetts. In fact - they maybe the same person!
Did he laugh his silly laugh in those early years?