I felt the need to blog about this today and as I'm sure many of you will know, my lack of political knowledge may mean this is a tad ropey but here we go. I saw the Labour Party Political broadcast last night by Eddie Izzard. I wasn't really sure about it at all so I thought I would give Eddie the benefit of my doubt and watch it. As a consequence I'm still not sure what I think about it. As regular blog readers know, I'm a huge admirer of Izzard's stand-up and his recent marathon marathon running was amazing (yes I meant to put marathon twice). But then to suddenly see him be the face of a political party just suddenly seems a tad odd. The fact that it's for Labour is neither here nor there, although were it for Tory I would immediately disregard him as a human being. Luckily for Gary Barlow I'd done this some time ago so its not much of a worry. Its more that Izzard has now firmly placed his political stance with one side and I feel that as a comedian, he probably shouldn't have done that. I remember reading all the big hoo ha when Mark Watson became the face of the Magner's advert and lots of people thought that was wrong. I thought it was a great decision and one I would leap at myself, often longing for another Carlsberg advert like the one I did in 2007. Three days work and the rest of my year paid for? Advertising something that doesn't kill third world children or sell arms or burn rainforests? I think that advertising something that, at worst, may cause someone to get drunk and fall over, is not betraying any political stance or viewpoint a fanbase may have had about them. It's not outside of our comedy realm, as it were. However, what Izzard has done, is(ard. Hee hee).
The role of the court jester back in them medieval times, was to be able to mock the king and the hierarchy without punishment. They could be the contained element of anarchy that allowed others an outlet for venting against the establishment. In today's world I'd say comedians have a similar responsibility. Sure we will probably all vote, but its our job to mock all the parties (especially the Conservatives), and provide that commentary on the situation while others can't? By making his political allegiance publicly known Izzard transforms from a comedian in the eyes of the audience, to a political spokesperson. Suddenly his viewpoints or observations come not from an individual having his say, but from a party telling you what you should think. Its a big difference. From watching the broadcast last night, Izzard kept insulting the Tories and I kept saying to myself that he did this because he just doesn't want them to get in parliament so much that he thought that by endorsing their main competitors it would help. But then I couldn't help but think, why didn't he just do a bit of stand-up for one of the channels or radio stating the same points? For any of his fans that would have been enough, and for anyone who isn't a fan, well, I doubt a Labour broadcast by Eddie would do much for them anyway.
Last night I tweeted a joke about how David Tennant does the voiceover for the Labour advert stating ' a future fairer for us all' and how that, as the Doctor he's seen the future, its full of daleks and therefore he's a liar. I thought it was less commentary on the Labour Party's broadcast and more a silly comment. However I received two tweets from Tory supporters who cheered me on and I felt pretty disgusted by that. I don't want to be portrayed as a Tory sympathiser, nor a Labour voter or a Lib Dem supporter. I wouldn't object to anyone who said I fully backed the Monster Raving Loony Party but that's the only possible exception. While I'm very happy to let you know that I'll vote for the Left as much as possible, I'd prefer to remain reasonably anonymous with it all so I can mock all of them should my lack of political knowledge allow it. Essentially, that's what I feel we, as comics, are meant to do. Give the information and the criticism and let the public decide for themselves. Otherwise you leave your fanbase stuck if they don't agree with you. They say the world would all get along if it wasn't for religion and politics. I doubt this is true as I think Loose Woman is also a factor, but by mentioning political allegiance you automatically isolate those that don't agree, when instead you could be passing on your viewpoints in a more subtle but effective way. Comics like Mark Thomas educate in righting the wrongs of the world with his comedy, but I can't imagine he'd ever completely stand behind one single party vouching for them. That'd be giving the wrong message. Which is what Eddie Izzard has done.