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Brits still waiting for full Brexit comedy dividend

Thursday, March 16, 2017 - 02:54

While political comedy booms on U.S. TV in UK Podcasts give one outlet free from need for balance. Rough cut - no reporter narration

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ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION STORY: They were the two stories that rocked the Western world last year. But while Donald Trump's election injected new life into U.S. political comedy, the British are still waiting for Brexit to usher in their new golden age of satire. Americans can choose from half a dozen weekly or nightly TV shows for acute observations of a political transformation that has given veteran actor Alec Baldwin a whole new career as a Trump impersonator. In Britain, comedy fans have thin pickings as broadcasters have to respect rules on impartiality, and chatty panel shows, rather than hard-hitting satire, dominate the schedules. "I don't know if there'll be a boom in satire here. Clearly there's some big issues to get stuck into," satirist Andy Zaltzman told Reuters after recording an episode of "The Bugle", his weekly "audio newspaper for a visual world". Zaltzman launched The Bugle in 2007 with fellow Brit John Oliver who has since become one of the most influential TV satirists in America with his own weekly HBO show "Last Week Tonight". The re-booted Bugle, with a roster of co-hosts to replace Oliver, gets 12 million downloads a year and gives Zaltzman independence he would not have with a broadcaster. A smaller TV channel, Dave, best known for showing reruns of HIGNFY and other "banter" formats, has launched its own weekly political comedy show, "Unspun", presented by Matt Forde, whose Trump impersonation gives Alec Baldwin's a run for his money. "He's got the manner of someone trying persuade an elderly relative to go into a nursing home," Forde told Reuters, puckering his lips and adopting Trump's voice: 'You're going to be so happy, It's such a beautiful place, ok, now off to sleep now.'" There's something deeply untrustworthy about how calm he makes himself sound." While "Unspun" has some elements of "The Daily Show" and "Saturday Night Live", it is far gentler towards politicians. The house band, MP4, is made up of actual members of parliament who share their views and anecdotes throughout the show. Unspun has had mixed reviews. "The holy grail of such television - a marque to stand alongside Jon Stewart-era Daily Show or John Oliver's Last Week Tonight - remains, on this Atlantic shore, ungrasped," wrote The Guardian newspaper.

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Brits still waiting for full Brexit comedy dividend

Thursday, March 16, 2017 - 02:54