Comedians Take on the Clowns

By Parry, Steve | New Internationalist, September 2013 | Go to article overview

Comedians Take on the Clowns


Parry, Steve, New Internationalist


Stand-up comic Eddie Izzard has revealed he plans to run for London Mayor next time around. It's an interesting idea. Comedians have been laughing at politicians since time immemorial. But for all their bravado, few have displayed the requisite gonads to actually take on the politicians.

Why would they? There are enough clowns populating the parliaments of this world without even more jesters poking their tickle sticks in, surely? Perhaps not.

Part of me thinks there should just be a straight swap - comics becoming politicians and vice versa. Far better the war criminals and fraudsters shouting in sparsely filled pub rooms than passing resolutions at the UN. The standard of banter on TV current affairs shows would go up a notch, too.

The future Mayor Izzard seems like a perfectly decent bloke, although I'm wary of anyone with an electrifying stage presence, a large personal fortune and no policies cropping up on ballot papers. This concern is thanks to the terrifying success of Italian populist comedian Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement.

Standing for nothing but a vague mistrust of politicians and broad dislike of the status quo, Grillo's organization won over 25 per cent of the vote earlier this year, making them the largest party in the Chamber of Deputies.

For many, this was a positive break with the norm, but a group of random comedy fans who emerge from nowhere and tell you nothing about their beliefs, apart from that they're really pissed off, smacks of despair rather than hope to me, and that is no laughing matter.

Grillo, like most comedians, is much better at pointing out what he's against than what he's for. It's all set up, which conveniently allows his audience to impose their own punchlines to the problems. …

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