‘Keeping Sane in an Insane World’. Pt. 2 : British Humour

Without Private Eye, which is published fortnightly, I would not have made it through Brexit, and it continues to provide solace for me now, as it has done for years.  It is wickedly funny.

Its articles, comments, jokes and cartoons are superlative, and its house-style follows  in the glorious tradition of satirical humour that goes back to the eighteenth century. To the work of Hogarth, Thomas Cruickshank and James Gilray.

I truly feel that we live in a second ‘golden age’ of cartoonists, shown in the work of the outstanding  Steve Bell, who lives in Brighton, Martin Rowson, Ben Jennings, Christian Adams, Morten Morland and Chris Riddell. At times, I feel they are as great, and almost surpass, the legendary Gerald Scarfe.

As I worked for Mel Calman and ran his ‘Workshop’ gallery in 1970-72, I feel I know a little about the art of the cartoonist.  I met and sold the work of Bill Tidy, Patrick Garland, Hector Breeze, and many others.   It is good to know that there is a Political Cartoon cafe and Art Gallery now in Putney.  Also, the British Cartoon Archive is kept at the University of Kent.

Apart from our stupendous cartoonists, radio and TV programmes such as Dead Ringers, and The Now Show  are unmissable, as indeed is the hilarious Spitting Image on TV.  How would we have survived the Thatcher Era without it? And it is about to return to our screens soon. It is badly needed.

My love of satire goes back to the early Sixties, when I was locked away studying for my ‘A’ Levels.  Truly, the highlight of my week was Saturday’s That Was The Week That Was.

I never missed a single show, and was sad when it ended.

Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, John Cleese, and all the Pythons were my comedy Gods in these years, as was the magnificent Tony Hancock.  And, further back in my youth, I loved the Goons.

And classics such as Fawlty Towers, and, dare I mention him Mr Bean, so beloved by the foreign students that I used to teach. I can still quote large chunks of these programmes by heart.

There are so many brilliant  journalists to cheer us up these days:  Stewart Lee, John Crace, Marina Hyde , and comedians such as Ricky Gervais, whom I have met, and Russell Brand. And too many talented young stand-ups at the Edinburgh and Brighton Fringe festivals to mention.

James Gillray, whose cartoons lampooned George 1V ( the Prince Regent) and are now displayed in Brighton Pavilion, would have chuckled at the outrageous portrayal of Prince Charles by Harry Enfield in the spoof satirical show The Windsors on Channel 4 now ( another unmissable highlight of my week nowadays!).

This is just a brief hommage to my own personal favourite satirists and comedians. There are many others that I have not mentioned.  Chapeau to  them all, and the joy and laughter that they bring.








One thought on “‘Keeping Sane in an Insane World’. Pt. 2 : British Humour”

  1. Absolutely LOVED your piece. Actually it brought tears to my eyes (am crying as I write) that we have this precious freedom to give vent to the frustration and anger that results from the absurdly mad and juvenile behaviour of those who gain power over our lives. Truly it creates some sanity in a mad world!

    Liked by 1 person

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