Stuart Heritage wonders:
[T]he bulk of Have Got News For You hosting duties these days usually involves reading jokes that everyone already heard on Twitter two days earlier and then introducing a YouTube clip of a cat getting stuck in a breadbox.
I think HIGNFY is as good as British political satire gets, but that’s not saying a lot. Perhaps it’s because I watch The Daily Show, Colbert Nation and Real Time religiously, but all our vaguely political comedians and television personalities pale pathetically in comparison. Partly, perhaps, because of laws like these, which can hardly help. But also, surely, because of a level of apathy that means there’s no appetite for continuous mockery of the powerful. With two twenty-four hour news channels, shows like Question Time and blunders like the nonsense pasty fiasco, it’s not like the material isn’t out there.
Hislop can hit on some awkward truths and coax laughs occasionally, and we shouldn’t expect anything less from a Private Eye editor. But I think Heritage is right in suggesting HIGNFY is too dumbed down and dedicated to low culture and propping up silly Sun headlines. One would have thought that 10 O’Clock Live would finally knock down the barriers, but that show has flopped. Jimmy Carr’s opening segment can sometimes get lucky, and Charlie Brooker occasionally strikes gold with his ranting monologues. But Listen to Mitchell and Lauren Laverne? Please. I know Maher and Stewart have had years of experience in which to perfect delivery, and it’s hard to imagine them ever coming across as effortless and piercing as they do. But perhaps the truth is simply that Britain has no great political comedians.