“Why can’t we do The Daily Show?” - Because we did, in the 80s

Hello, Ls, Gs and Os

my YFIAWC is all about my first love, Comedy. This week I’m going to look at Topical Satire! It’s of no surprise to you dear user that stuff happens and in order to make us not go mad it’s good to laugh about the bad, stupid and down right odd stuff that goes on. Satire has been a staple of the comedy world since the first baby laughed and with us brits being down right sarchastic is the staple of most of the comedy we produce.

Right now the best topical satire on british TV comes from accross the pond in the form of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report (with silent Ts). While both these shows are fantastic well produced programs they are in no way the first or the funniest. Boring commentators who wish to bitch about british comedy not being as good as it was in the old days point at Messrs Colbert and Stewart and say “look, look, funny, we can’t do that any more”, I aggree with them, we can’t, because we have and if we did it would look old and tired, we’re too good at it as a nation. The jokes that are made on these shows are similar to jokes people make in the office pointing up at their superiors and moking them, and as such isn’t good enough to put on at 9pm on a Tuesday.

Back in time when Alternative Comedy came along it brought with it snappy intelligent topical satire, notably through the mouths of Alexi Sayle and Ben Elton, and even before that it was dramatised for us with ‘Yes (Prime)Minister’. America was no where near where we were in terms of comedy on television and I blame all this on advertising (more on that in future columns) it’s why they still class ‘Monty Python’ as our comidic pinnacle (before you start flaming me it IS fantastic but since then we’ve come so far) and class us all as ‘Random’ and ‘Wacky’ it’s one of the reasons we’ve managed to palm off John Cleese to them! As such the USA is starting to get even more topical than before and so now it is possible to do TDS or TCR to a wanting audience (it’s still not funnier than The Onion, but again net comedy = future column)

We have a show similar to them on BBC Four called the Late Edition with Marcus Brigstocke and it is funny, very funny at times, and on the radio there is ‘The Now Show‘ always very good and this is before I even touch on panel shows. So we do do it but it isn’t ‘NOW’ enough to go on one of the major channels - well they did try with Tonightly, and it was awful, read here - so we get other kinds of shows instead which is fine, I’d like more topical stuff but I have Radio 4′s Armando Iannucci’s Charm Offensive, The Now Show, my Times online ‘Bugle‘  and ‘Timeghost‘ podcasts.

So we can do it, topical satire is our thing and we owned it for a long long time, then we played with it - Brass Eye, Time Trumpet and we still are playing with it especially on radio.

Truth is, us brits are awesome at comedy, so stop pointing at America, they’re pointing at us!