HAVE you noticed how comedy is a fast track to a variety of TV jobs? As with many desirable careers, to be admitted you must belong to a particularly elite school where the motto is: Necessitatis indixerunt (translation: no unexpected items in the gagging area). These days nobody would invite Alexei Sayle to make a travel show, in case he says something about blood on Alastair Campbell’s hands. Jerry Sadowitz is too dangerous to perform his magic tricks in case he goes off message. But, by keeping out these imperfections, the BBC has created a solid manufacturing base of plastic polemicists with well-structured supply chains feeding other sectors of entertainment, according to ARFCOM, the comedy industry regulator.
These days being a comic is like the introductory page of a career book. You might have only one joke but if, say, you’re of Greek origin, you could soon be invited on to Newsnight to talk about the state of their economy.
Forget the olde worlde comedy industry, where jokes were honed in working men’s clubs. Back then the aspirations of stand-ups were prioritised as getting laughs, buying football teams and raising money for charity. They mocked themselves and rarely gave advice, which showed they were a modest breed. By contrast the satirists on Radio 4’s The Now Show have long eschewed Rob Long’s Set up: Joke, Set up: Joke formula. Today’s satirists don’t show the audience how modest they are, they have to tell them. At great length, or you’d never know otherwise. You know the schtick: we’re not very good, I’m a bit rubbish, Britain’s a racist hell hole.
It’s not hard to see through the artifice of the counterfeit commies. Their professed modesty doesn’t stop them delivering a series of mini-TED talks in every Now Show on Radio 4. It’s a supreme arrogance for people professing to know nothing to lecture others. Their unresearched insights are usually about Britain’s place in the world, which seems to involve becoming a sort of penal colony for crimes against the civilised world.
The old comics were nothing if not genuine. By contrast, the advanced research into emotional currency allows well-educated middle-class showcialists licence to simulate these values. The problem is that now they’ve catalysed the evolution of the market, artificial authenticity could be produced through machine learning. ChatGPT could ruin the market for predictable jokes about Donald Trump, the Daily Mail and cabinet ministers. Which means that comics must diversify into new TV professions.
The transition is smoothed by left-wing branding, which covers many cracks. For example, one omnipresent showcialist has told how she fiddles tax relief on foreign holidays, hates sharing so much that she steals library books and, in a stunning lack of empathy, condemns women who commit suicide as cowards. Doesn’t sound very compassionate, does she? Don’t worry, a bit of Red Label covers the cracks and smooths admission into many markets, such as:
Travel programmes. If you want proof that showcialism takes money from the poor and gives it to the obscenely rich, watch a travel programme. They are always presented by a celebrity with no idea about the country being visited. Which usually means a stand-up comic is commissioned to contrive neediness, ask stupid questions and generally insult the host’s intelligence in a way that would make Bernard Manning look like a cultural attaché.
This exemplifies how brutally capitalist and class-bound showcialism is. Why give life-changing fees to people who don’t need the money and, subsequently, won’t feel grateful enough to give anything back? Why not get a professional tour guide or some undiscovered professor of history to show us around their country? Why do producers relentlessly suck up to people with lots of money and ignore those lower down the scale? I think a have a clue (see below).
Compassion is another sector being exploited, yes exploited, for branding purposes, by the Condescentii and their lackeys in the secret cancellation police, the Jestapo.
I used to volunteer for a charity whose cause struck a chord with me. CALM, the Campaign Against Living Miserably, was an attempt to address the high suicide rate among men. I wrote a couple of pieces which were quite personal to me, in the hope they could encourage other men to seek or give help. One was a piece about a mortifying scrotum injury, the other was based on my experience and training in counselling. It was based on a simple point that most men think they can solve other people’s problems in a single conversation, which is rather insulting. My point being that you don’t know enough about other people’s lives to offer advice, especially not instant solutions. But you can really help by listening and asking questions. I invested a lot of my personal experiences into those pieces and didn’t expect payment as it was for a cause.
I was then brutally dropped by that same organisation when it attracted investment and appointed a marketing director. He instantly used the budget to invite celebrities to make contributions, presumably in the hope that his new showbiz contacts would help him up the ladder. What comic irony that I should be ghosted by a charity which pretends to be about being a good listener.
Game Show Hosts
The saddest spectacle of all is the number of comedians who become game show presenters. Practically all would-be comics are obsessed with game shows as that’s where the big money is. It must be fantastic, but the same faces appear, so it must be a tightly controlled circuit. If anyone made the wrong type of joke about, say, climate change, they could be blackballed. The phrase ‘game show host’ was once an insult. Now it’s an aspiration.
Another destination for the showcialist is the crime documentary, on which a large part of the budget seems be spent on hiring a comedian to narrate. Again, they seem to add nothing.
I once tried writing detective fiction, only to be asked: ‘Do policemen really talk like this?’ Yes, the many I grew up or played football with did. As did the ones I worked alongside in a traffic police depot for 18 months.
On telly, comics play detectives by never grimacing throughout the entire show. If the characters are from ‘south of the river’ the actors adopt a ‘sucked-lemon’ expression and use such phrases as ‘this ain’t your first rodeo’, a phrase the Yanks didn’t invent until 30 years after the scenes depicted in A Town like Malice. Talk about a tin ear.
Mark Thomas started the trend of comedy political activist, having copied the idea from Michael Moore. Mind you, Mark Thomas was quite good at it. Now everyone wants to be a politician, without having built the flimsy foundations of a political career. But they don’t do the hard bits of politics such as listening to voters. There will be no door-to door campaigning for Joe Lycett, and Frankie Boyle won’t conduct a surgery to help local people with their problems.
Lycett took fakery to its logical conclusion when he pretended to shred £10,000 in a ‘protest’ about David Beckham acting as an ambassador for the World Cup in Qatar.
The banknotes were fake, and Lycett’s ‘light-touch’ radicalism had about as much substance. Besides, if you genuinely had ten grand, wouldn’t it have been nicer to distribute among the workers who needed the money rather than publicly destroy it?
The Real Garibaldis
Genuinely left-wing comics such as Alexei Sayle, Julie Bindel and Mark Steel are OK with me. You might not want them as Chancellor of the Exchequer, but at least they are honest and trustworthy. And yes, I did say Julie Bindel. I remember seeing her years ago swapping bons mots with the editor of a magazine that was cashing in on the phoney ‘lad mag’ boom. I ended up feeling sorry for the poor sap as Bindel seemed much wittier. Possibly because, as a left-wing lesbian, she has no choice but to be honest and brave. That’s how comics should be.
No, it’s the fake left-wingers I can’t stand. They pretend they emerged from the womb as perfect liberals and, to cover their tracks, project all kinds of dishonest nonsense on the rest of us. They’re the comedy industry’s version of those hate hoaxers on Twitter, who make up stories about things that didn’t happen in order to humble-brag. It’s they who should be banned.