If you’re like me, you stopped watching the “comedy” shows on TV long ago. They are barely disguised leftist political and ideological propaganda in our politicized and polarized age.
And if you’re like me, you sorely need some good laughs as the election approaches. I have a suggestion for you.
I think that really good satire has to be a step removed from the day’s newspaper headlines—more strategic than tactical in its approach. Making fun of Trump or Biden by putting obviously rigged words in their mouths, for example, doesn’t work—it comes across as what it is, barely disguised campaign propaganda.
Effective satire is a step removed and punctures political posturing more broadly—the political structure in general, or the boorishness of politicians in general, that sort of thing. And usually, you utilize examples from both “sides.” That certainly is not hard to do today.
I think perhaps the last wave of really good satire was with British movies of the 1950s and 60s. They had many great comedies that satirized the politics and culture of that day in nonpartisan ways. My favorite movie of all time, for example, is “I’m All Right, Jack” (1959). A superb cast, and this was the movie that made Peter Sellers a star—he plays a communist trade-union boss. And everyone but everyone gets skewered—management, labor, the British aristocracy, the commies, the media, and, in the end, we the people. There’s even an evil Arab sheik among the villains. So politically incorrect—I love it!
If you are interested, do a little research. The movie is available for streaming on your TV, and here is Wikipedia’s plot synopsis:
Windrush chats with his father at the Sunnyglades Nudist Camp, and is persuaded to seek a job: he interviews at the “Detto” company making washing detergent and making a very unfavourable impression fails to get the job. He then interviews at “Num-Yum” a factory making processed cakes. Although it tastes good the process for making the cakes is very disturbing. An excess of samples causes him to be sick into a large mixing bowl of the product. Again he fails to get the job. The recruitment agent tells Windrush by letter that after getting 11 interviews in 10 days and making a singularly unimpressive impression that industry isn’t for him.
His uncle, Bertram Tracepurcel and his old army comrade, Sidney DeVere Cox, persuade Windrush to take an unskilled blue-collar job at Tracepurcel’s missile factory, Missiles Ltd. At first suspicious of Windrush as an over-eager newcomer, communist shop steward Fred Kite at first asks that Stanley is sacked for not having a union card.
However, after a period of work-to-rule, he takes Stanley under his wing and even offers to take him in as a lodger. When Kite’s curvaceous daughter Cynthia drops by, Stanley readily accepts.
Meanwhile, personnel manager Major Hitchcock is assigned a time and motion study expert, Waters, to measure how efficient the employees are. The workers refuse to cooperate but Waters tricks Windrush into showing him how much more quickly he can do his job with his forklift truck than other more experienced employees. When Kite is informed of the results, he calls a strike to protect the rates his union workers are being paid. This is what Cox and Tracepurcel want: Cox owns a company that can take over a large new contract with a Middle Eastern country at an inflated cost. He, Tracepurcel and a Mr Mohammed, the country’s representative, would each pocket a third of the £100,000 difference (£2.3 million today). The excuse to the foreign government is that a faster contract costs more.
The union meet and decide to punish Windrush by “sending him to coventry” and he is informed this in writing. Stanley’s rich aunt visits the Kite household. Mrs Kite decides she is going on strike.
Things don’t work out for either side. Cox arrives at his factory, Union Jack Foundries, to find that his workers are walking out in a sympathy strike. The press reports that Kite is punishing Windrush for working hard. When Windrush decides to cross the picket line and go back to work (and reveals his connection with the company’s owner), Kite asks him to leave his house. This provokes the adoring Cynthia and her mother to go on strike. More strikes spring up, bringing the country to a standstill.
Faced with these new developments, Tracepurcel has no choice but to send Hitchcock to negotiate with Kite. They reach an agreement but Windrush has made both sides look bad and has to go.
Cox tries to bribe Windrush with a bagful of money to resign but Windrush turns him down. On a televised discussion programme (“Argument”) hosted by Malcolm Muggeridge, Windrush reveals to the nation the underhanded motivations of all concerned. When he throws Cox’s bribe money into the air, the studio audience riots.
In the end, Windrush is accused of causing a disturbance and bound over to keep the peace for 12 months. He is last seen with his father relaxing at a nudist colony, only to have to flee from the female residents’ attentions. Unlike in the opening scene this time he is naked.