Stand Up Comedy comes out all Achtung Baby strut with a Curtis Mayfield/Bob Marley spiritual/political anthemic clarion call. Around the riffs, distortion and declaration to stand up for love we get some of Bono’s sharpest lines, most accusing self critique and one couplet that holds the key to the band’s entire canon as well as nailing a critical contemporary issue. You can tell I love it!
The second verse might be my favourite U2 verse...
“Stand up, this is comedy
The DNA lottery may have left you smart
But can you stand up to beauty, dictator of the heart
I can stand up for hope, faith love
But while I´m getting over certainty
Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady”
The contemporary obsession with beauty that has already been dealt with on Get On Your Boots and the last album’s Original Of The Species gets another tossing around. Looks that dictate the heart need stood up to and another straight Biblical lift, this time from 1 Corinthians 13 suggests a guiding light that transcends the DNA lottery, the dictator of the heart and the dizzy world and lovesick eye of verse one.
After that there is this great line about how we see God. Juxtaposed next to the Scriptural lift of the previous line, it is Bono at his humble best; quoting Scripture in one breath and avoiding the potential arrogance in the next. When we have God so boxed that we tell him what he can and can’t do as many fundamentalist Christian do then we make him into a little old lady. It is like we need to guide him by the theology we have defined him by. Many of the same old lady walkers use the words “Sovereign God” but if God did a sovereign act they’d pull him back across the road and save him from danger. As if his humility is not clear enough so far Bono uses a couple of lines familiar from recent interviews about being Napoleon in high heels and warning us all by way of Josephine to watch rock stars and small men with big ideas.
From fundamentalist Christians Bono then has a go at the arrogant athiests. The Richard Dawkins syndrome that has flushed our society with arguments against the existence of God that I got over as school pupil, and not even a good one at that. Dawkins throws academic qualifications around that should make his arguments smarter. Bono? Well he takes him out in an economy of words – “God is love/And love is evolution's very best day” – and with it he equates God with love which if you look back to Rattle And Hum’s God Part 2, then since and before, you unlock the code that sees God even more omnipresent in the U2 canon than he already is.
All achieved in just 3 minutes and 50 seconds making the musical spine of the album riff heavy and not without a thought or two to chew on.