Posts Tagged ‘Edinburgh Fringe’

Working Class Comedian on Radio Next Week Sending Up Benefits System

February 26, 2021

This could be really good. According to next week’s Radio Times for 27th February – 5th March 2021, Radio 4 begins a new series at 11.00 pm Wednesday night with the comedian Tom Mayhew, in which he recounts his own experience of the benefits system. It’s called Tom Mayhew Is Benefit Scum, which accurately sums up the Tory attitude towards the unemployed, long-term sick, disabled and indeed anyone claiming benefits. The blurb for the programme on page 137 of the Radio Times runs

The working-class comedian presents and autobiographical journey through the benefits system in a stand-up series that takes a wry look at prejudices towards benefits claimants and turns those assumptions on their heads.

The additional piece about it on the opposite page, 136, gives this information

There’s an endearing ruefulness about stand-up comedian Tom Mayhew. He seems to understand that the way to get comic mileage out of the less than advantageous hand life has dealt him is not to get too angry about it. This show, which started life on the Edinburgh Fringe, is based on his experience of the benefits system, and although it wasn’t available at the time of going to press, we can possibly glean things from routines he’s put up online. I like his line about how – jobless in 2010 – he found his Pokemon cards were worth more than his A-level certificate.

Assuming this programme does what the Radio Times claims it does, it could be very, very good. The treatment of people claiming benefits in this country is absolutely scandalous, thanks to the Tories and New Labour, and well deserves to be sent up. It looks like its going to be a gentle mocking, rather than the vicious attack the murderous system and the unindicted crims behind it deserve. It’ll be interesting to see what the press makes of it. They’ll either ignore it, or else rant about how the Beeb is glamorising welfare dependency and so should be privatised.

But programmes like this demonstrate the opposite. They’re why we need proper public service broadcasting, as we won’t get this kind of material from Murdoch.

Private Eye from 2001 on the Bizarre UKIP Election Pantomime

March 8, 2016

With the Kippers trying to tell Londoners that it’s all the fault of foreigners from Eastern Europe that there’s a shortage of truly affordable homes in London, I thought I’d post up this piece from fifteen years ago in Private Eye for 20th April – 3rd May 2001. It describes the really weird antics staged by UKIP prior to an election debate at the University of Brighton.

As the election looms, the antics of the staunchly Eurosceptic UK Independence Party grow even more surreal.

On 1 April members of UKIP took part in a cross-party debate held at the Sallis Benney Theatre part of the University of Brighton, to discuss the motion: “Britain would be better off out of Europe”.

To get those present in the mood, including Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown Des Turner and UKIP MEP Nigel Farage, the evening kicked off with a performance of a pantomime written, produced and directed by UKIP’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Hove, Richard Franklin, entitled “The Kween’s Speech”.

Some of the more traditional party members in attendance were quite taken aback by the political satire starring local actress and gay icon, Dora Bryan, which included a scene in which Black Rod indulged in a lewd sexual act with a fictional Faery Queen of England.

This is really quite bizarre, considering how the vicious hatred of gays in much of UKIP and the weird rants against them that members of the party have sputtered in the recent past. Remember when one of them claimed that the storms that battered Britain’s coasts that year were ‘God’s judgment’ on us, because we’d legalised gay marriage? And Farage and the Kipper leadership as a whole have come across as very staid and traditional in their attitude to the monarchy. It always seemed to me that they were arch-Tories there too, with the characteristic defensive and exaggerated respect towards the Queen.

I realise that there have been some gays in UKIP, including a gay section of the party at one point, and that Brighton has a reputation of being one of the centres of gay life in Britain. It’s still very strange – something you’d expect from a radical student production of the 1960s or ’70s, rather than the dawn of the new millennium; and more suited to the Edinburgh Fringe than the rather more staid atmosphere of a serious political debate about Britain and Europe.

Possibly this is something that may even be an embarrassment to the party today, an unwelcome reminder of some of the shockingly subversive attitudes of some of its members in the past. In which case, it might be no bad thing to keep reminding them of it.