Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Not as funny as it used to be

Watching Remember the Secret Policeman's Ball? over Christmas I came to two conclusions.

The first was that, on the whole, the older the performers were, the funnier they were. The Beyond the Fringe sketches had lasted better than Monty Python, and Python was infinitely better than the French and Saunderses and Lenny Henrys who came after. Even Alexei Sayle, of whose comedy and writing I am a great admirer, came over as simply ranting.

Of course, this is a reflection of my own tastes and experience, though the comedy that most formed my sense of humour came immediately after Monty Python - Fawlty Towers and The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. For what it is worth, I have not watched Reggie Perrin for years, but every time I see Fawlty Towers it is a little more dated (it is firmly rooted in the 1970s, which has its positive aspects) and John Cleese's performance seems a little more over the top.

My second conclusion is that there has been a radical change in left-wing politics. Broadly speaking, comedy of the 1960s and 70s was bitterly critical of the judges and looked to a new generation of classless politicians for salvation. Now we have those classless politicians, and we look to the judges to save us through human rights legislation.

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