Comedians as social commentariat

Many people digest the news via late night or comedy (panel) shows. For many this seems to be the sole source of information. John Oliver and Trevor Noah spend a lot of time explaining news context.

Now, laughing about the mistakes and hypocrisies of the powerful can be a good thing. However, there is a risk that by merely laughing about it we confirm the status quo, because if it’s funny it cannot be that bad. Maybe a reason, why people like Jon Stewart and Bremner are not around anymore. Comedy soothes us in and gives us a sense of meaning where anger would be required.

Putting Trump on comedy makes him more human.

The number of comedy panel shows in the UK is really overwhelming. This might be because they are actually easy to produce and the format doesn’t seem to wear out. It’s like having a chat for lonely people.

Comedians tend to be working or middle class and left leaning. However, social critique features very little. In the drive to capitalise on being part of the media machine/business they forget the role they could have. Many of them become celebrities, the same type they ridicule.

Standup comedians seem to rely on certain effects nowadays: swearing, description of slapstick moments (eg drunkenness), repetitiveness, dropping of random facts which are then picked up later in a close (to give the feel of some sophistication). Vulgarity has really increased in TV comedy, it seems to be the way to connect with a larger working class audience.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like comedy but I think we attach too much power to its creators. They cannot fulfil the social change that we desire.

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