The apolitical and the politics of comedy

Last week as I was rather absent-mindedly watching the One Show. The guest on the sofa was Alan Davies who was talking about his programme Teenage Revolution on Channel 4 in which he takes a journey through his adolescence and the events that helped shape him. At one point he talked about vandalizing his local Conservative Club and talked about his support for Labour Party. He then mentioned the comedy of the 1980’s and how many comedians were anti-Thatcher. Manford chipped in with a “there was a lot to be angry about back then. There’s nothing to get angry about these days”.

My jaw hit the floor. Nothing to get angry about anymore? THERE’S PLENTY TO GET ANGRY ABOUT! What about the bankers or the coalition government? The problem with many of today’s comedians is they have gone back to the 1970’s when most, if not all comedians, spoke about sex from a patriarchal position and used ethnic minorities as the butt of their humour. Seventies comedians didn’t have time for politics either – unless it was right wing politics and in any case if politics was ever mentioned, it consisted of a little gentle ribbing. No one in their right mind would think of Mike Yarwood as a political satirist but Yarwood’s comedy was about as far as most comedians were prepared to go before 1979.

Manford recently hosted the Help for Heroes concert that was shown on the BBC about a fortnight ago. He is apparently incensed that the Beeb edited out his comment about government funding for the armed forces.

If the Government – governments in general – are sending people to fight for freedom or defend their countries they should be looked after by the same people.

This makes me laugh, here Manford is clearly being political in spite of what he said on the One Show sofa. But no doubt he would, like so many others, claim that he is ‘apolitical’. I’ve always thought that anyone who claims to be ‘apolitical’ is probably quite right wing in their views but doesn’t have the honesty to admit it or they think that complaining about food price increases is just a bit of a ‘moan’ and not an expression of political sentiments.

It is disappointing to see so many of today’s comedians take us on a regressive journey to a world populated by negative [ethnic] stereotypes.  While blacks, Asians and the Irish are no longer used as the butt of jokes, new ciphers have appeared to replace them, namely people with red hair and the Welsh. Paedophilia and rape have also made an appearance and while no subject should be sacred, it is the way these subjects are dealt with that cause the most alarm. In the hands of many of the newer breed of hack comedian, the rape victim is the butt of the joke and the victim of the pederast is likewise considered to be fair game. There is nothing in the way of lived experience being expressed by many of these comedians.

It’s as if the 1980’s never happened.

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Filed under Ideologies, Society & culture, television

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