Monday, 28 May 2012


For some time I’ve been worrying about the absence of comic anger in the midst of a shaken world. Where, I lamented, was a Swift or Hogarth or a That Was the Week that Was? Thank heaven, to be sure, for Private Eye and Have I got News for you? But where’s the rage? Where’s the kind of filleting that Christopher Hitchens gave Tony Blair in their debate on religion?

This week that all changed.

I became aware of Beppe Grillo and his Five Star Movement in Italy.This comedian and political activist won just under 20% of the vote in local contests in Parma, and several smaller towns. Have a look at the story of his journey and his beliefs.  Like Alexis Tsipras in Greece he seems uncorrupted, focused and damn mad.

I confess (shamefacedly) not to have realised Beppe had been voted a European of the year by Time Magazine in 2005 on the back of his fantastic blog.

And then I saw Griff Rhys Jones on Question Time demolishing the other contributors including the, for once, tongue tied Caroline Lucas trying to defend wind power. He was angry and eloquent. I wanted to vote for him. Sitting opposite Lord (good Lord, how did that happen?) Prescott and two brains Willetts, he was so much more passionate and smart. And no, he doesn’t look funny in this clip does he?

And then there was the film “the Dictator”, Sacha Baron Cohen’s satire on despotism and the ludicrous postures of the Gadaffi’s of this world. Would that he were to do something similar about the Euro and the absurd politics of Brussels.

Version three: “I’m sane and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

What we need is more comic rage. More people like Bill Maher in the States and more like Ian Hislop over here. We need more contrarians everywhere. It’s the ability to undermine the person with whom you’re debating and use teasing humour to remind them of their frail arguments that is so telling. Hence the popularity and success of Boris.

Where we are today is so serious it calls for a deluge of laughter and ridicule. And one final example of that: the Eurovision song contest. Me? I’m putting my money on Saturday afternoon, as I write this, on “Aphrodisiac” – the Greek entry. 

That would be fun.

“Aphrodisiac? What’s that?”

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