Woke BBC “Comedians” simply insult those they’re supposed to entertain
BY CHARLOTTE GILL
On Friday night, like much of the nation, I tuned into Have I Got News for You to unwind for the evening. Generally I avoid comedy panel shows, finding them too full of self-congratulatory men, but found this episode interesting as a measure of how insulated most comics are from mainstream voters. They were shocked by Boris Johnson’s win – “well didn’t see that coming”, said Ian Hislop – and continued in the same fashion as always, laying into the Conservatives and anyone who does not live in their cosmopolitan bubble.
Comedians have every right to criticise those in power – indeed it is a massive part of the job description – and should up the ante given that the Tories have a big majority. Even so, it’s clear that many ran away with themselves over the last decade, unable to hear the mood of the nation underneath the canned laughter. A massive gulf has grown between the views on screen and up and down the country; the industry has become an echo chamber tantamount to Twitter.
The gulf is so large, in fact, that many voters now relate better to toff BoJo than stand-ups. This is a perverse state of affairs, but inevitable given the amount of virtue signalling comedians do above jesting, as well as condescending to the electorate. Too often comedians believe they are mocking the powerful, but they instead attack Brexiteers, one of the least powerful groups in our society. This happens a lot on The Mash Report, so it’s no wonder that host Nish Kumar recently got booed off stage at a charity show. He mostly insults the very people he is supposed to entertain.
The majority of jokes on popular television are, in fact, written to please the Islington dinner party crowd. On the other hand, comedians like Geoff Norcott, who is much more reflective of mainstream opinion, are wheeled out as though they’re aliens, so strange is the concept of a right-wing comic. Non-woke types have been pushed underground generally, hence the birth of Comedy Unleashed, designed to promote free speech. But why? These comics are much more in touch with ordinary voters.
Overall, it feels that the London-based Left has had too much say over British arts and media. This is not only obvious from left-wing bias on our comedy shows, but across film and music, where we only heard from Corbynistas like Paloma Faith and Lily Allen about which way to vote. It doesn’t stop there; literature has been incredibly censorious, with the appointment of sensitivity readers and accusations of cultural appropriation bandied around, all of which are designed to give “progressives” power over who gets to write.
We have, in essence, allowed a small subset of society to become the self-appointed arbiters of what is good and bad, with bad mainly meaning the Right and Brexiteers. Many people in the arts industries talk about the importance of diversity, but this never seems to extend to different perspectives. There is only one ordained view: that of the enlightened quinoa-chomper.
This election has to be much more than about politics. It is a wake up call to artists, producers and editors, as well as other cultural institutions, about the importance of broadening their viewpoints. Representation is a win-win for everyone; it means the silent majority gets a stake in our discourse, and can help comics too. Surely they don’t want any more big surprises.
Charlotte Gill is a writer and journalist whose work has appeared in The Mail on Sunday, The Times and The Telegraph. Follow her on twitter: @CharlotteCGill