Yesterday, I was talking to an anonymous person I shall call ‘Chris’ because that is nothing like their real name and it could be either a man or a woman.
Chris is an ex-comedian.
I was talking to Chris about political comedy. There is not a lot of it about any more.
Chris left comedy, let us say, in the 1990s because – to an extent – he/she was disillusioned. There was not enough ‘serious’ comedy around. People had stopped making points in comedy. And alternative comedy, said Chris, had stopped being alternative.
“There used to be mixed bills,” Chris told me. “Odd variety acts, political comedians, gag-based comedians, poetry, a bit of music. Now it’s all interchangeable stand-up acts trying to get on radio and TV. It’s all gone bland. There’s no difference between the type of comedy in clubs and the type of comedy on TV.”
Margaret Thatcher, Chris told me, had been great for comedy because she made Chris – and many other comedians – really angry.
“I hated Thatcher,” Chris told me.
“But,” I said, “can’t you get angry now? You’ve got a Conservative government and you’re not a Conservative voter… The Prime Minister and the Chancellor are both posh public school educated millionaire toffs, which Margaret Thatcher was not – she was a shopkeeper’s daughter… And you’ve just been going on to me about unfair employment legislation… There’s unemployment and a bad economic situation.”
“But,” said Chris, “I can’t get angry about it the way I got angry when Thatcher was Prime Minister.”
“Why?” I asked.
“I hated her.”
“What about the economic situation at the moment?” I asked.
“It’s worse abroad,” Chris said.
“What about the posh boy Prime Minister and Chancellor?” I asked.
“I can’t hate them,” Chris said. “I can only dislike them.”
“When you were a comedian,” I said, “I guess you were struggling financially and it was difficult to survive on comedy. Now you could afford to be a comedian because you have a steady day job and you could perform comedy in the evening without having to rely on the money you may not make from it.”
“I just don’t feel angry,” Chris said. “I used to feel angry.”
“Does your day job satisfy you?” I asked.
“No,” said Chris.