Monday 28 September 2020

Have They Got Jokes for Aaron Bastani?


Simon Evans, funny and sartorially sharp

For fans of Twitter chats, here's an interesting one this afternoon featuring Simon Evans - one of the few right-leaning comedians (along with Geoff Norcott) to retain a toehold in BBC comedy.

It was sparked by an impartiality-free non-joke from the HIGNFY Twitter feed.

The thread also features arch-Corbynista Aaron Bastani telling it straight!

And if you're wondering, Marcus is also a comedian:


Have I Got News For You: So that’s 30 years then, but if Paul Dacre and Charles Moore take those jobs we’re unlikely to see another five, and nor is the BBC.

Aaron Bastani: As some of my favourite left wing comedians appear on your show I really hope it isn’t cut, as some argue it should have been 15 years ago. It’s a very left wing show, and I’m worried that’s why the Tories want it gone!

Zulu_Alpha: You don't think there's an issue with the BBC only producing left wing comedy?

Marcus James: No. This is a tired manufactured dichotomy.  Most comedy is anti-Establishment.  The Venn diagram between AE and left-wing is a big overlap, but they have a number of AE figures from the Right too (JHB, Henning When {sic}, Simon Evans, etc). Trump is AE - but he is definitely not left.

Simon Evans: Forgive my untagged intrusion, but as a matter of friendly interest, how often do you think I might have been on HIGNFY? Just a rough guess, over the last 25 years that I've been a professional comedian.

Marcus James: No apology needed, I did namecheck you after all. Guessing by this intervention, the answer is going to be not many / none; although to be fair I watch / listen to both HIGNFY and The News Quiz regularly, so there might be a bit of mental cross-pollination on my part. To be fair to the wider argument being made though, the accusation is being levelled at the BBC generally, of which The News Quiz is part, and you have to concede you are a regular on that show. incidentally, I think it would be helpful if people were more specific by what they mean as a "right wing comedian".  Do they want right-of-centre such as yourself and Henning, or do they just mean you can't tell jokes about mother-in-laws and minorities? Because I would hope we can all agree that certain types of humour associated with the "right" are probably never coming back to mainstream TV / radio; and, to be fair, with probable good reason!

Simon Evans: I think it's fair to distinguish between a high profile TV show and a popular radio comedy. You have of course guessed correctly - I have never been on the show. I don't know how often Henning has but if he is the representative of half the British electorate, that's a bit odd? As a conceded regular on The News Quiz, btw, how often do you think I have been on this year, so far?

Marcus James: Not many?  Genuine questions back though, in good faith, Do you feel you are invited on less because of your political position? Do you not think this is largely self-selecting? (simply more people who get into stand-up / comedy, are left leaning / liberal generally?) 

Simon Evans: I think in the last few years, and it being a topical show, they mean comedians who find the likes of Corbyn, Joe Biden and indeed AC Grayling, Change UK and Femi Sorry as at least as deserving of mockery as anyone on the right.

Marcus James: No argument from me there.

Simon Evans: Anyway, it would be unseemly to over do it, good chat, and I hope to see you from the other side of the screen one of these days!

Simon Evans: Sorry, missed this... [reacting to Marcus's "genuine questions" reply] ...I have been on once. But it will be twice, soon! I don't resent or complain about frequency, only occasionally take issue when I am presented as proof that the few RW comedians there are, like me, get invited on all the time.

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