With the year only 40 days old, it looks like 2013 is going to be a bumper year for side-splitting comedy. In these desperate times, it is heartening to know that there are so many comedians doing their best to keep our spirits up with their funny jokes and jolly japes.
First up in the nominations for hilarious buffoonery is national comic treasure Prime Minister Cameron, a master of stand up and delicious irony. His performance telling very wealthy greedy fraudsters that tax avoidance had to be avoided was matched only by the slapstick pizza eating sketch with Bozo the Clown Johnston and Wee Georgie Osborne. Cameron`s tour took him from Davos to Brussels and another triumph. Claiming to have won the hearts and minds of Johnny Foreigner, he returned with tales of historic comic cuts to the budget but hilariously failed to mention that the UK contribution to EU coffers will actually increase. Wee Georgie the Laughing Chancellor himself provided uproarious fun by telling bankers that they should be responsible. The carefully scripted adlibs concerning bonuses and tax cuts for millionaires were sadly inaudible set against the laughter of his invited audience. Bozo the Clown, it seems, has turned down the chance to appear in an extended season of his one man show at the Stephen Milligan Memorial Theatre in the fair parliamentary constituency of Eastleigh. Billed as “a smile, a song, a bin bag, an orange and an excuse me”, Bozo`s show would have brought the house down. Probably on Cameron`s head.
Also in contention for the top award are other giants of the British stand up circuit. Nick Clegg`s charity single “I`m Sorry” is likely to be surpassed by his follow up download “I`m Hopeless”. Chris Grayling is in the running with his very funny monologue about hitting his children; Iain Duncan Smith for his “madman trying to get out of a straight jacket” sketch and Eric Pickles who, like Tommy Cooper, just needs to walk out on stage to make people laugh. Murdoch poodle, Health Secretary and liar Jeremy Hunt had us rolling in the aisles with his “nobody is to blame” shtick and Benghazi Billy Hague continues to raise a laugh and a few quid by flogging weapons to lunatics. The dark horse in the race to be top dog is, however, Michael Gove. The baccalaureate too far routine is in the tradition of Frank “I`ll pay for any damage” Spencer and his recital of logarithm tables in Latin has to be seen to be believed. Not to be outdone, the opposition Labour front bench deserve an honourable mention for their adherence to the comedic principles of Jacques Lecoq. Inspired by Marcel Marceau, all manner of emotion is displayed by facial expression alone and always in implacable silence even as Labour back benchers shout; “Go on Ed, do the funny voice.” In opposition, the shadow cabinet are happy to amuse us by pretending to walk against the wind and then by pressing on the walls of an invisible glass box.
We have had further comedy gold provided by MPs opposed to equal marriage. The heady mix of bovine mooing and equine neighing over the sanctity of marriage and the unwarranted attack on God must surely be attracting the attention of Findus, Aldi and other purveyors of fine mechanically rendered processed meat products. So sacred is marriage to MPs desperate to save their own skins from the constituency mincer, that many of them have tried it two or even three times. Divorce, it seems, is a basic human right but publicly expressing love is an unnatural sin and it might be best to draw a veil over the shenanigans in the upper sixth dorms of British public schools.
The importance of the stability provided by traditional family life could not be better exemplified than in the domestic bliss formerly enjoyed by Chris Huhne and his charming ex-wife. The sweet irony of a former coalition cabinet minister facing prison will not have been lost on fellow Liberal Democrat David Laws who has returned to cabinet after a small misunderstanding regarding deliberate fraud. Laws, after all, are there to be broken. Huhne`s conviction, if such a thing exists within any Liberal Democrat, promises a feast of slap stick fun in the Eastleigh by election. With Bozo the Clown deciding to honour a previous engagement involving closing down London`s fire stations, we had hoped that the biggest joker in the pack would step into the circus ring.
Sadly, Nigel Farage has proved to be something of a disappointment. After telling the world that UKIP are about to sweep away the self interests of Europhile toadying politicians and that he will lead Britain to a new age of empire, he will not stand in Eastleigh. Perhaps, as an MEP, the huge allowances he collects from the EU he despises are greater than those available at Westminster. Perhaps the lucrative appearances on the BBC every five minutes are too tempting to give up because, if he was a candidate, the BBC will be forced to give other candidates the opportunity to bark drivel into the camera. His 30 second sound bites for news media are the work of comic genius. Starting quietly and almost in possession of something approaching rationality, by 25 seconds the eyes are bulging, the face is purple and he is shouting nonsense. He stood in Eastleigh in 1994 as UKIP`s first ever parliamentary candidate and narrowly beat Screaming Lord Sutch of the Monster Raving Loony Party. It is probable that this ridiculous fruit cake has no stomach to face the Eastleigh electorate again.
The problem with all these jolly japes and this knock-about pantomime is that none of it is remotely funny. The economy and, by definition, people`s lives are being driven into an abyss created from a dangerous mix of incompetence and ideology. Cameron is a self-serving wide boy, Osborne is a dunce and Clegg is pathetic. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is the first Lord Chancellor not to hold any qualification in law and now remains silent after a victim of sexual assault has taken her own life after being accused of being a liar and fantasist by some venal defence lawyer. Iain Duncan Smith, Lord Freud and others at the DWP have gone beyond mere malice and dogma and are now engaged on a campaign of oppression against those unable to fight back. After the disgraceful barbarism of Mid-Staffordshire, the man responsible is now selling off the NHS with the full support of Jeremy Hunt. Gove has destroyed education and is ruining the lives of children. If this were a far away country rich in mineral resources, there would be calls for the government to face charges of crimes against humanity. The Labour opposition remain silent.
Harry Secombe once sent a telegram to Spike Milligan to let him know how his tour was going. “Audience with me all the way” it said. “Managed to shake them off at the station.” Cameron and his gang might not be so lucky.