The comedian talks comedy, young voters, and how journalists could save us allby Stephanie Boland / June 8, 2017 / Leave a comment
“There was a sense of: what, again? Why? What now?” It’s the eve of the 2017 general election, and Andy Hamilton is describing its beginnings.
“There’s no doubt people were feeling jaded going into it,” he tells me. “I remember doing a recording for the News Quiz the week the election was announced, and there was a sort of collective groan from the audience.”
A veteran of elections and political coverage, Hamilton is best known for his regular appearances on programs like Have I Got News For You and Radio 4’s The News Quiz—quite aside from his impressive writing CV—and has a good sense of how the public mood has developed.
Although things have picked up since that groan—“I didn’t expect Theresa May to implode quite as dramatically as this”—there is still a part of him that thinks we may well “fetch up almost exactly where we started. Then people will be really annoyed!”
His tone, however, is considered, rather than pessimistic. Away from the snappy formats of panel shows and scripted television, Hamilton is clearly deeply introspective—a man aware that politics, like most things, is rarely black and white.
“I think,” he muses, “it’s partially because of the expenses scandal. There’s still quite a lot to do in terms of politicians winning back trust. You still hear, ‘oh, they’re all the same’.
“Which is clearly not true: you get groupthink in all professions, but you don’t write off all the plumbers because a few are unreliable!”
There are, however, signs of change.
“What’s good is that two million young people have registered to vote. Young people have started being interested in politics again. That will be no bad thing. And maybe, this election has got people asking fundamental questions about what society’s priorities should be.”
And that, really, is the core of our discussion. It only takes us 15 minutes to get on to the topic of the next day’s election, but by that point we’ve already covered fantasists, Donald Trump, technology, and the impact that our 24-hour news cycle—and the constant dissection of the same on social media—might have on us. (“It’s something we’ll only know in 50 years’ time, I think.”)
I’m speaking to Hamilton because, somehow, he has managed to find the time to write a book. The Star Witness…