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Boris: Won't Get Fooled Again?

Posted: 2/05/2012 00:00

"Who's more foolish the fool or the fool who follows him?" - Obi Wan Kenobi, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Whilst standing on rain soaked streets campaigning against the re-election of Tory Mayor Boris Johnson I've had a range of responses. Mostly, this being politics and in London, it's been busy indifference.

Often I've had cheerful support for my calls to sack the old Etonian. Occasionally though I've had a very strange response; "Yeah but he's funny, isn't he?" What worries me is that these people might actually be serious.

There may be many reasons to re-elect Boris, although I can't see them myself, but I'm pretty certain his comedic persona is not one of them. It's nice to see politicians who can display wit but it should be pretty low on the priority list.

The strategy of selecting a winner based on humour is flawed on two main levels. Firstly if you elect Boris because he's funny he'll have less opportunity to make you laugh, as Mayor he can only make so many appearances on Have I Got News For You.

Secondly the very act of being Mayor makes him less funny. I don't find myself chuckling when I swipe my Oyster card and see the 50% rise in my fare and, forgive my sense of humour failure, but my sides have not been splitting over the rise in knife crime.

The Tory Mayor's comic appeal lies in an image of him as General Melchett from Blackadder; a caricature of the upper class eccentricity. Of course General Melchett was a satire of the First World War generals whose incompetence would lead millions of the men to their death.

We certainly don't choose our comics on the basis of their political skills. I've never gone to a comedy club in the hope of seeing a comic who has a firm grasp of the pension crisis and a vision of how to sustainably develop Britain's public housing.

In fact comics often epitomise the worst of human qualities for comic effect. Misanthropes, neurotics and fools are comedic tropes that we enjoy within the confines of the comedy performance, not with their finger on the big red button.

This flawed selection process appears to come from the idea that all politicians are bad and therefore someone who appears to be less like a politician and more like a fool must be good. Unfortunately all you've done is elect a fool.

 

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