A Middle Class Hero Is Something To Be.


Are working class people allowed to be satirical in Britain?

That’s the question I found myself asking as I watched the latest episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s show, ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”. His guest was John Oliver, the host of ‘Last Week Tonight’, a satirical show on HBO .

‘Last Week Tonight’ is huge in the United States. We don’t currently have anything like it in Britain.

Satire in Britain has always been dominated by middle class intellectuals. There was a satire boom in the 60s with the TV shows, ‘That Was The Week That Was’, and ‘The Frost Report’ hosted by the Cambridge educated David Frost. In 1961, another Cambridge alumni, Peter Cook started the satirical magazine, Private Eye and co-founded The Establishment, a London nightclub which became famous for satire.

These days the most satirical show on British television is  ‘Have I Got News for You’ which is loosely based on the BBC Radio 4 show The News Quiz. The tone of both of these shows is distinctly middle class.

John Oliver is a huge star in the USA but is virtually unknown in Britain, why is that? His parents were school teachers and he was educated at Cambridge so he’s as “qualified” for satire as the current guardians of the genre. Why did he have to go to America to be accepted?

Could it be that his West Midlands accent makes him sound working class to British ears?

Craic on!

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