Why is British comedy not biting in this political time

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Why is British comedy not biting in this political time

Postby Achtung Englander » Thu Feb 09, 2017 10:39 am

This has been on my mind for some time. As an avid viewer of Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show, Seth Meyer and John Oliver - these guys are having a field day with Trump. It makes my morning. We do not have the same equivalent here. The closest we have are panel shows like HIGNFY and Mock The Week. These shows, while fun, are not cutting or have a point. Even Spitting Image back in the 80s took more risks than what we get today

This Indy article brought up my own sentiments

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-enter ... 70566.html

With the world's politics so blatantly stupid from almost all sides of the argument, it is a gold dust for political comedians. Where the fuck are the Brits who are so good at this thing ?

Is it lack of originality from TV producers, or are they too scared to do anything but play safe all the time ?
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Re: Why is British comedy not biting in this political time

Postby Sly Boots » Thu Feb 09, 2017 10:56 am

It still might be, in stand-up and less mainstream channels - I genuinely don't know but I expect those are a better feeding ground for more subversive comedy.

But mainstream TV comedy generally in this country has been in the doldrums for a long, long time. Not sure why. Maybe it's because unless you're a reality show, cooking show, panel show or safely middle-of-road like Outnumbered and things of that ilk, you don't get on TV.
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Re: Why is British comedy not biting in this political time

Postby Jez » Thu Feb 09, 2017 11:26 am

A return to spitting image would be amazing these days what with the characters involved.

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Re: Why is British comedy not biting in this political time

Postby Wrathbone » Thu Feb 09, 2017 11:31 am

I guess if you want to do intelligent satire with brutal wit, it's much easier these days to just put it on youtube and get an audience there than trying to convince a mainstream channel to take a risk with you. The trouble with youtube is it dilutes coverage - there's good content out there, but few people will have seen the same thing unless it trends.

TV in 2017 is weird.
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Re: Why is British comedy not biting in this political time

Postby Subway Diet » Thu Feb 09, 2017 11:51 am

It feels like TV culture is so very different here. We don't have multiple news dedicated networks. Mainstream TV seems hesitant to sound critical of anything the government does, or tries to be as apolitical as possible.

Goes for humour too. Any social or political comedy out of the UK always seems so... joyless? I'm impressed how the American talk show hosts can be highly critical of current politics, and still be funny and upbeat about it.
Try watching A Charlie Brooker show. Everything seems so bleak and hopeless. It's like getting political satire from Marvin the Android.
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Re: Why is British comedy not biting in this political time

Postby DjchunKfunK » Thu Feb 09, 2017 11:56 am

We have never really had an equivalent of the Daily Show. All the current political satire shows right now in the US are run by people who used to be on the Daily Show, so part of it is that we don't have that breeding ground on TV.

It's also very much down to our TV system over here. Sky is never going to commission that type of show, what with it being owned by Murdock, the BBC is nowhere near brave enough now due to the political climate and the pressure on the license fee, ITV has never really gone into that area which leave Channel 4. They used to be the shining light, but again they are a very different broadcaster now. Stuff like Brass Eye would never be picked up by them nowadays.
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Re: Why is British comedy not biting in this political time

Postby Wrathbone » Thu Feb 09, 2017 12:30 pm

Subway Diet wrote:Mainstream TV seems hesitant to sound critical of anything the government does, or tries to be as apolitical as possible.


That last bit is absolutely not the current case with the BBC, who employ Tory hacks such as Laura Kuenssberg to spread malicious lies about Jeremy Corbyn. The amount of misinformation the BBC has lumped on him is pretty shocking.
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Re: Why is British comedy not biting in this political time

Postby Subway Diet » Thu Feb 09, 2017 12:44 pm

Wrathbone wrote:
Subway Diet wrote:Mainstream TV seems hesitant to sound critical of anything the government does, or tries to be as apolitical as possible.


That last bit is absolutely not the current case with the BBC, who employ Tory hacks such as Laura Kuenssberg to spread malicious lies about Jeremy Corbyn. The amount of misinformation the BBC has lumped on him is pretty shocking.
In which case, I'd have bolded the first part of the statement. I'm sure there's some argument for hearing "both sides", but that's the apparently the thing about the BBC. It's not left or right, it just seems to wobble in the centre.

At least American news networks have their political agendas up front. Here, you don't know which side of it's face the BBC is going to talk to you from.
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Re: Why is British comedy not biting in this political time

Postby Achtung Englander » Thu Feb 09, 2017 12:49 pm

DjchunKfunK wrote:We have never really had an equivalent of the Daily Show. All the current political satire shows right now in the US are run by people who used to be on the Daily Show, so part of it is that we don't have that breeding ground on TV.

It's also very much down to our TV system over here. Sky is never going to commission that type of show, what with it being owned by Murdock, the BBC is nowhere near brave enough now due to the political climate and the pressure on the license fee, ITV has never really gone into that area which leave Channel 4. They used to be the shining light, but again they are a very different broadcaster now. Stuff like Brass Eye would never be picked up by them nowadays.


this pretty much sums up what I was thinking. CH4 had a political satire show with Charlie Brooker that ran for 2 seasons I think, and again that was not as good as it should have been because it was not scripted. I don't know, it just feels like a HUGE missed opportunity.

There are some decent British comedies out there like Toast Of London and Two Doors Down but you really need to seek them out.

UK TV is just drowning in reality, property, hospital and cooking shows. No wonder box sets and streaming channels are doing so well.
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Re: Why is British comedy not biting in this political time

Postby katarn » Thu Feb 09, 2017 1:00 pm

To be fair to the BBC they're in an awkward spot with political comedy. They have to be seen to equally 'go after' both left-leaning and right-leaning politicians, otherwise arguments will be made about their remit. Which gets very complicated for the writers and performers.

They managed to do it perfectly with the Thick of It, which mercilessly tore both Labour and the Tories to pieces, but apart from that it's all pretty subdued.

I think there's more of a conscious process for providing balance on UK TV these days, compared to US late night. Dunno if that's a good thing or a bad thing tbh.

Although I have to say, it can get very tiring very quickly when it's the same old jokes. For example, I've mostly given up watching any US late night clips on my Youtube subscribed channels these last couple of weeks. They're just endlessly regurgitating the same old stuff about Trump every night and pretty much taking turns making the exact same observations. Again and again.

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Re: Why is British comedy not biting in this political time

Postby Quietman » Thu Feb 09, 2017 1:28 pm

Channel 4 had a stab at it with that thing with David Mitchell, Charlie Brooker, Lauren Laverne and... someone else? on it, can't remember what it was called though.

Closest thing we have at the moment is The Last Leg.

it feels to me like the UK political scene has less outright craziness and more wry "oh ffs..." moments, like in The Thick Of It. The whole thing just feels like it warrants less overt comedy and more just... frustration.
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Re: Why is British comedy not biting in this political time

Postby DjchunKfunK » Thu Feb 09, 2017 1:59 pm

The 10 O'Clock show, I think it was called, was not very good.
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Re: Why is British comedy not biting in this political time

Postby Raid » Thu Feb 09, 2017 4:42 pm

It's frustrating that we don't have anything with the same level of research as Last Week Tonight, where they focus on one topic and go into quite a lot of depth. I binge watched every single one of their Youtube videos last year, and they're both hilarious and terrifying, if obviously very US-centric. There was more scathing satire on Brexit from LWT (they did two stories on it) than we got in the UK from what I remember.

I loved The Thick of It too, but while it's very similar to Yes Minister (one of my favourite sitcoms), the fact that it's fictional means it doesn't really qualify as satirical for me.

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Re: Why is British comedy not biting in this political time

Postby Sly Boots » Thu Feb 09, 2017 4:49 pm

Raid wrote:It's frustrating that we don't have anything with the same level of research as Last Week Tonight, where they focus on one topic and go into quite a lot of depth. I binge watched every single one of their Youtube videos last year, and they're both hilarious and terrifying, if obviously very US-centric. There was more scathing satire on Brexit from LWT (they did two stories on it) than we got in the UK from what I remember.

I loved The Thick of It too, but while it's very similar to Yes Minister (one of my favourite sitcoms), the fact that it's fictional means it doesn't really qualify as satirical for me.


I don't know about that, Raid, fiction can be used to satirise. An obvious example that leaps straight into my mind being Gulliver's Travels, in which Swift satirises a great deal of the politics of the day, in a fictionalised setting.

TTOI may not satirise individuals as such - though Malcolm Tucker is an obvious send up of Alistair Campbell - it does skewer the workings of government and the civil service, New Labour, political spin, stuffy Tories etc...
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Re: Why is British comedy not biting in this political time

Postby Mantis » Thu Feb 09, 2017 4:59 pm

South Park is one of the most satirical shows on US television at the moment and that is obviously pure fiction.

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