Is it me…. or is satire dead?


As i prepare for my new Edinburgh show, The Morrell High Ground, satire is seeping in more and more and my fear of its death is as great as when I first wrote this blog.  I have been kindly asked to do a set for the Monday club @ Rosemary Branch Theatre and their night is based around the general election.  This is my chance to  support the fading arts that is satire and a time where it could  to be more crucial.    Yes, this blog is about comedy but the future of satire is that we appreciate the very honest understand light it can shine on difficult times. Especially when there is general election coming up that no one asked for or wanted!!!  Enjoy!



My next Edinburgh show is going to have elements of satire!!! Why you ask?!  Because I fear it may be dying out and people no longer know what it is and therefore do not appreciate its importance.  There.  I said it.  I went there!

Allow me to elaborate…

I, like many others shared the most recent vlog, President Trump-How and Why… from ‘Journalist’ Jonathan Pie.  I put the word ‘Journalist’ in quotation marks deliberately because he is not a journalist, he is an actor/comedian playing the role of Jonathan Pie- a political correspondent for the BBC.  He does not actually work for the BBC as a journalist or political correspondent.  He is an actor playing a role.  I am labouring this point as I fear people may think he ACTUALLY is judging by the most recent responses to his Trump vlog.  It has generally got a very positive reaction and lots of re tweeting etc but it has caused upset in some camps.  I had the pleasure of seeing his live show in Edinburgh this year and it was ,quite frankly, a much needed breath of satirical fresh air.  For those who don’t know, the actor Tom Walker has created a character Jonathan Pie who is a  ranty, swearing, angry,  outspoken BBC reporter not afraid to call it as if he sees it.  His many vlogs depicts outtakes when he is ‘off’ camera and quite frankly I’m addicted to it and become quite the fan.   However his most recent explaining why he thinks Trump became President, to many people’s surprise, has caused some outrage.   Now go watch it so I don’t have to explain it….you can’t be bothered?!  Fine! Right, well in so many words Pie puts blames the left for Trump’s victory as they did not have a candidate capable of beating a misogynistic, corrupt, racist, megalomaniac.  Or in his words-

‘I would vote for lucifer over Trump…how shit have you got be to lose to Trump.’-Jonathan Pie

The democrats failed to produce a solid candidate in the form of Clinton and therefore failed us.  He also, as he does in many of his other vlogs, emphasise that the key to this sort of political upheaval, to put it mildly, is debate.  

‘The key is discussion and debate. ‘ -Jonathan Pie.

We no longer debate and discuss. Instead we dismiss or ban opinions because they ‘Offend us’.  This is his words by the way, not mine…although I do very much agree.  Now the outrage towards Pie and other correspondence who share his opinion, comes from several online publications.  They feel it is all well and good for white males to blame the left and not that the cause is Trump voters are racists and sexists and are to blame.  That they can blame the left because they’re white middle men, they’re not the minorities that Trump’s policies victimize.  I’m paraphrasing slightly but you get the idea.  

Yes, for our own left wing tactical advantage we can’t afford to alienate the right but, if you are white and male, consider how much easier it is for you to decide that we should stop talking about racism and sexism and focus on unity.’-Medium.

As a disabled woman I can sympathize with this to some extent.  I have fallen victim  to decision made by governments and don’t need more white middle class men telling me how I should feel but having said that, I do agree with Pie. Why?  There is one important thing that I feel these publications have missed the boat on…have you guessed it yet?  No?…He’s a satirical character!!!!  A work of fiction!!!!  He is modern satire and thank god for him!    Yes his opinions are bold and may cause some strong disagreement but that’s the point!  That’s the ruddy point!  That’s why we have satire and why we need it now!  The definition of satire, according to the dictionary, as good a source as any, is- the use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.-Oxford English Dictionary.

Are you following now?

Jonathan Pie is the only decent bit satire we have seen in ages and I fear it’s dead because of the reactions I just outlined.  People do not understand satire because it’s rarely depicted in mainstream entertainment.   Other than Pie, I can only source Have I Got News For You and that’s more panel show these days, but thank fuck for Hislop!  Learnt so much from that guy! He is one of ten people alive or dead I’d have for dinner.  True story. Anyway, I digress.  We used to have Spitting Image, The Day Today, the The Thick of it and then nothing for a long time except a few lurkings from Mark Steel and Nish Kumar to name a few,  on BBC Radio 4 but they are often considered political comedians as opposed to satirists. 

Having said all that about those who oppose his recent blog, they are representative of good, effective satire.   He wants us to debate so has created a character so opinionated it ignites debate and discussion which is exactly what has happened!  These publications are disagreeing and thus debating him! YAY!!!!  Look to his twitter feed, lots of people criticising him and having a go and there embracing the long lost art form that is, discussion!  Finally!  

What is important about satire in times like this which Pie is on the cusp of nailing is, when we discuss and debate we are holding those in charge accountable for the decisions they make. We question those in charge and hold them accountable by dissecting their opinions we don’t like, instead of dismissing them.  In doing this it stops the Trumps and the Mays from tearing up countries because we question their decisions and in all fairness…. we elected them!  Why the hell shouldn’t we!  May is in the process of ravaging the NHS and outsourcing it privately!  We cannot let this happen and must question every decision she makes regarding it before we lose one of the best things this country has ever done.  

So take a leaf out of Pie’s book- don’t dismiss the views you don’t like, debate them, talk about them and challenge them so that the Trumps and Mays are the last of their kind because these are dangerous people capable of doing scary things.  And you want to know an effective way of doing this?  Through comedy satire!!!  Satire is not dead because it lives within Johnathan Pie but now more than ever it requires a full on renaissance!  Like they did with Matthew Mcconaughey’s career!   Satire can only exist if we take the risk as Pie does and MUST be nurtured during the unsure times.  It’s also….more importantly, really bloody funny!!!

*On a side note, as  I wrote this it has been announced that Jonathan Pie’s Live show is at London Palladium 4th March 2015!  If that’s not good satire working and getting results then I don’t know what is! Go. See. It.  


Georgie Morrell is a comedian, performer and writer. She regularly blogs for Huffington Post and The New Establishment.

Her upcoming solo shows are back in London!

17th October 7pm. Georgie Morell: A Poke in the Eye is at The Phoenix Artist Club, London. Tickets- event tix

And, Georgie Morell: The Morrelll High Ground, 18th October 8pm at The Star of Kings, London. Free entry/PWYC.

Listen out for her in November in BBC Radio 4 Drama ‘Jayne Lake’ by Matthew Graham.


About Georgie Morrell 22 Articles
Georgie Morrell is an comedian and writer. I do my One Woman show A Poke in the Eye. I also do improv, sketch stand up and a bit of acting. I have written for RNIB's Insight magazine, RLSB's blog and Ideastap.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.