The targets of popular satirical comedy have changed over time.
1960s anti-establishment comedy, led by Peter Cook and David Frost, pricked the previously untouched pillars of British authority. In the 1970s impressionist Mike Yarwood set a tone of anti-left comedy. Students took control again in the 1980s and aimed at Thatcher and Reagan but, bereft of the wit and intelligence of the 60s’ experts, their satire was often clumsy and lacked incisiveness. In the following decades comedians became obsessed with talking about themselves, exaggerating their foibles and starring in eponymous sitcoms.
Now, nearly twenty years into the 21st century, satirical comedy on TV has neutered itself.
Political safety and job security are the inspiration for today’s popular satirical comedians. Evacuated from the radio 4 bowel onto BBC 2 and Dave, fearful centrist melts offer meek criticisms of political figures and acts. Their observations are excruciatingly obvious. Wit, knowledge and insight are eschewed. There is no attempt to add to the conversation. The flaccidity of the melts’ satirical analysis is deliberate and purposeful. It is pretence of satire.
Political conformity is ever-present in the behaviour of today’s melting satirists. They regurgitate prevailing bubble-created catatonic opinions from the detached centre. The key fear that reeks throughout the centre is the fear of socialism and run-of-the-melts enjoy repeating reactions to this fear via uncerebral isolated pithless stock phrases that would sit comfortably in a Daily Mail comment piece.
The melts’ jokes and jokey remarks lack invention matched by a lack of honesty. No preparation precedes, there is no accompanying didactic narrative and no residual afterthought. Everything is forced, like platitudes on an estate agent’s blurb for a house. It is drab and full of snide. Current TV political satire is the antithesis of what it should be. Its characteristics are obedience and suffocation of wit. It is a slow death of satire.
run-of-the-melt n. Melt in show business or arts with adequate talent
melt n. Centrist who is disproportionately critical of left-wing politics
The Last Leg wants to humanise Amber Rudd