Is there any place for comedy in politics?

The excellent piece by Pearl Ahrens got me thinking about humour in politics. Here’s a start: A man with a crocodile walks into a pub and asks the barman: “Do you serve Lib Dems?” “Sure”, says the barman. Man: “Could I have a pint of beer and a Lib Dem for my croc”. Not very funny, I know, and I adapted it from a joke told by Kevin Maguire on Twitter the other night. The butt of Kevin’s version were social workers, so I am showing some bias in the telling.

Politicians of all parties can be funny, but I am not sure whether they (we) as a breed are naturally funny. The ‘jokes’ at Prime Minister’s Questions are often very laboured, well prepared, and delivered with the same gentle touch that Vinnie Jones employs when he arranges flowers.

In Britain we have been blessed by generations of amazing satirists who have brought pompous politicians down to earth. Among my favourites is Brighton’s own Steve Bell. I’m not sure what kind of mind he has. How does someone think to picture John Major wearing his underpants outside his trousers? I heard from the great man himself (Bell, not Major) that Michael Hesseltine had loved being portrayed as Tarzan, even offering to pay a large sum of money for an original until Bell told Tarzan’s assistant that the cheque should be made payable to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament!

Much political humour is aimed at putting down one’s political opponents. Much of Churchill’s humour had a nasty edge, saying that Clem Atlee had a lot to be humble about, his reference to an empty taxi pulling up outside No 10 and out stepped Mr Attlee, and saying to a woman who had accused him of being drunk that she was ugly but at least he would be sober in the morning.

I can be accused of name calling on this blog, and I apologise if anyone has taken offence, although I think that secretly – or not so secretly – my ‘victims’ quite like my feeble attempts at humour. Momma Grizzly uses that description on her Twitter profile. The Estate Agent enjoys his title not so much, nor le Toothbrush or la Toothbrush. I’m not sure what Lady Everton, the Bishop, and others think of their names. I am advised, and The Ghost of Nobby Clarke can tell me if this is true, that the former Labour rebel, Richard Stanton used to refer to a very macho Labour Chief Whip (whose name I can’t remember) as Skippy (as in the Kangaroo). He apparently hated it.

Actually, the reason for this post is so that I can tell a couple of feeble jokes, and hopefully you can respond in kind. So here goes -

A politician went to see his doctor: “Doctor, I’m addicted to Twitter”. The doctor replied: “I’m sorry, I don’t follow you”.

At a political meeting I met a young women. I asked her her name. “Chantelle”, she said. I said “Go on”.

And finally, a joke I’ve told on this blog before: A man goes into the Lib Dem bookshop and asks the assistant: “Can I have a copy of your manifesto?”. “Sorry, we’ve sold out”. “I know that, but can I have a copy of your manifesto?”.

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10 Responses

  1. Skippy = Jon Allen?

    Brian Fitch was, and is still, universally known as ‘The Badger’ amongst Labour veterans.

    The Churchill quip was about Attlee being a modest (not humble) man with a lot to be modest about.

    And the Churchill ‘drunk and ugly’ episode was an exchange not simply with ‘a woman’ but with the redoubtable Bessie Braddock.

    • I thought Jon Allen or even Fitch, talking of comedy in Brighton Politics messrs Bassam, Fitch and Lepper were always good entertainment in the 80′s bullying the young Michael Furminger who was Cllr for Kings Cliff by taunting him that his parents made him move out because they could not afford the Poll Tax, John Blackman had a deadpan humour too “Comrade mayor!”

      • Dear voice from above – we don’t want to get involved a a dreary debate between two ghostly voices about the history of the Labour administration in the olden days when it was a great and good influence. But…

        Surely the Badger Fitch (may he rest in the assurance of many a renaissance) only became chief whip after the departure of Comrade Stanton. So the answer must be Jon Allen.

        Answers please.
        Calls from mobiles may cost considerably more.

  2. Whats a Greek Urn?

    About €3 a week now.

  3. The late, revered Coun.Nobby Clarke used to say that he defended everyone’s right to an opinion. “It does not matter whether they are Jews or Genitals”. Hear Hear. Mrs Malaprop used to be alive and well in Brighton Labour Party,

  4. After a charity bike ride that I took part in several years ago, the team were congratulated by the deputy mayor of Crawley. He was very impressed by our efforts ‘to oppose anti-apartheid’.

    As my auntie says, ‘it always ceases to amaze me’.

  5. If we didn’t have banter in the LP then I don’t know what I would do!

    Politics is often linked with a sort of dark humour and jokes about the other lot. It’s a good laugh im sure we will all agree.

  6. Someone from Brighton Uncut has just tweeted an appeal for someone with a car to pick up one of theirs who has just been released from police custody “pretty please”. You couldn’t make it up!

  7. Not everyone has the whole summer off – so what are the rest of us to do for political fun?

    Just written up the massive divergence between Caroline Lucas and Brighton’s Green council, where am I supposed to plug it now?

    http://free-english-people.blogspot.com/2011/07/green-mp-caroline-lucas-attacks.html

  8. There are so many estate agents in the UK, one doesn’t know where to start. I should imagine that due to the current state of the economy though it will be a case of survival of the fittest.

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