I like Charlie Booker. He sports a droll, mocking presentation style, probably my favorite “attitude” of all the topical comedians now in play.
However, this year-end round-up — 2016 Wipe — is more interesting as an example of fake news. Not as comedy.
Since some of the subjects here being made fun of were issues and debates I know quite a lot about, it was instructive to watch him effectively distort the news, the better to serve the prejudices of his elitist, London insider audience. Indeed, he frankly says so, at one point. But we’re supposed to take it as irony. I guess.
I took it as earnest confession.
First example? Brexit supporter (and Euro MP) Dan Hannan. Booker’s editing suggests that Hannan was lying when he said the Brexit issue was mainly about sovereignty, one of the few times in the show when that issue came up. But Hannan is eloquent, and precise. His primary interest in sovereignty was clear from every video I saw of him. I mean, the videos are still up on the Web, right? Maybe I noticed merely because I’m separated from Britain by an ocean and a continent.
In any case, it’s not as if this couldn’t be checked.
Or take Hillary Clinton — please. Booker glosses right over all her scandals, never drawing the real gallows humor latent in every move of her shrill, smug campaign. It is almost as if Booker were trying to score ideological points with his comrades in the show’s audience rather than be funny. Oh, say it ain’t so, Charlie!
Or take the NeverTrump protests both before and following the election . . . or the relentless sabotage (and Twitter-feed death threats) that Trump withstood from the beginning of his campaign. No mention how the pre-election shennanigans turned out to have been orchestrated from high up in the Clinton campaign. The revelations coming out just weeks before the election. No notice of how the same folks who had been, before the fateful Tuesday, decrying Trump’s droll suggestion that he would accept the outcome of the election “only if” he won, next took to the streets to cry “Not my president!” when their side lost. Are you sure you could not find any cause for laughter, here? I thought hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance were the very stuff of topical comedy.
Charlie Booker apparently “knows better.”
This past year was filled with insanity on all sides. And yet, somehow, Booker makes it look as if the wholly insane could only be found in the ranks of Leave/Trump vothers.
There was one genuine bit of satire, though, when he interviewed a Leave voter and then shouted the man down before he could get three words out in a row. In that moment he did acknowledge that “his side” was, indeed, habitually throwing stones in their glass domiciles.
You’ve got to pick and choose a lot to make a comedy special, I know. But 2016 Wipe wasn’t so much topical satire as apologetics — if in the form of despairing mockery.
Sad. Sad indeed.
It could have been so much funnier if a teensy bit honest. Pay me his fee and I could write a funnier year-end review. At least I would capture the spirit of the age in all its witlessness.
Oh, and speaking of witlessness . . . you know what I noticed most? Repeated revelations of poor education. Ms. Cunk, near the very end (how apt) showed no knowledge of what the word “apocalypse” originally meant, how it became what it now “means,” and how both definitions work together to nod, knowingly, at the real human predicament. Instead, she runs through a brain-dead, uninformed view of the current devastation that her class feels. Oh, the feels.
In that, the show did not serve as satire, but merely as mildly entertaining grist for real satire.
For a much better attempt, scorn the professionals and give the amateurs a chance. Sargon of Akkad did a far better job than Booker did. Sure, he is serious. But also funnier: