I'm frequently told that I'm a satirical writer, and although I don't think the label really fits me any more, it probably does apply to What a Carve Up!. But the problem with most satire, I've started to feel, is that it doesn't just preach, it preaches to the converted. Satire – besides being what Milan Kundera disparagingly called a "thesis art" – actually suppresses political anger rather than stoking it up. Political energies which might otherwise be translated into action are instead channelled into comedy and released – dissipated – in the form of laughter.Amen. Amen. Amen. I tried, and probably failed, to say something similar when discussing 10 O'Clock Live.
An interviewer recently asked me if I thought there was a dearth of political satire in this country at the moment. I would argue that there is too much. Our comedians have a default position – comfortably left-liberal, slightly sneery, relying on sharing rather than challenging the assumptions of their audience – and this keeps up a low-level rumble of cynical chuckling which allows our political masters to keep on doing whatever they want to do, completely untouched and unthreatened. And there is an element of this, I feel, in What a Carve Up!. Over the years I've found that one of the reasons its admirers like it so much is because they already share its politics.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Jonathan Coe on satire
From today's Guardian: