For my personal catharsis, I recently tore a larger hole in the anus pastitis that is Have I Got News for You here, focusing on the first of its current series hosted by a bloated Jeremy Paxman with Ian Hislop as boorishly smug as ever. I haven’t changed that view. I have, however, and am more than content to admit, watched further episodes, and I can say they have been largely tolerable, at best. This naturally depends on the various hosts and guests, these usually supplying the brighter lights within its dimming continuance. I can’t remember actual good jokes, but there have been a few. One of the funniest moments was seeing host Alexander Armstrong buff up his remaining hair like Ian Hislop.
I mention now in the context of watching Frankie Boyle last night with his current series of New World Order. It was, as I expected, hilarious, but it was also satirically sharp as sharks’ teeth, with the kind of insight and knowing HIGNFY can only dream of these days. Yes, Boyle brings to the open discussion his scripted monologues – those that follow the two themed segments and his closing rouser – but Hislop, for example, will bring his prepared and tired ‘jokes’ to slot into a programme focusing on current affairs and thus having easy expectations of those predictable slots – these preparations yawned into his head previously and made more soporific by the waiting for recording.
Is that last bit too strong and personal? Well, it is the nature of the satire upon which both programmes are built. One sturdy, one collapsing…
Moving on. The two themed foci for Boyle’s programme last night were the demise of the Labour Party, and The Royal Wedding. The first is wonderfully illustrative. Where HIGNFY increasingly snipes and carps and takes cheap pot-shots at Labour and Corbyn [and there is a consistency that seems like childish bias], Boyle and his guests Sara Pascoe, Katherine Ryan and Mona Chalabi, including for this segment David Baddiel, dismantled Labour quite ruthlessly – but again hilariously – and this was interesting as those five people [incl. FB] are all left-leaning in their political sensibilities. The strongest and most incisive criticism was of the anti-Semitism perceived to be in the Labour Party and how Corbyn constantly links this to ‘other’ racisms, rather than seeing and dealing with it distinctively, and perhaps clarifying the position more defiantly, Baddiel having a personal view that carried great weight, not that one needs to be Jewish to have this. But it did. And Boyle was as near-the-knuckle in his humour here as is his signature, pulling from the white-knuckle hat of playing with words, jokes on ‘solution’ and ‘Holocaust’.
The other segment on The Royal Wedding was as acerbic and funny and convincing. Here are two of the jokes, the first lightweight but nonetheless amusing, ‘Meghan Markle will become the Duchess of Sussex, that’s got to hurt. You grow up wanting to be a princess and you end up sounding like a pub in Eastbourne’, and the second packing a surer punch, ‘It’s going to be a traditional wedding. Something old, Prince Philip, something new, the royal baby, something borrowed, the wealth of India.’
I freely admit I haven’t watched last night’s HIGNFY with which to make a comparison, especially in a mirroring of the two themes I have focused on here. I will watch at some stage. Whenever. There just isn’t any great urge – but I can’t wait for next Friday and Frankie Boyle.