Started in 1825 by scientist and Cravat-enthusiast Michael Farraday, the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures have since run annually (Except for 2 years during WW2). This makes them the second oldest British institution after Bruce Forsythe.
When I’m in charge it will be the law that everyone in Britain must watch the RI Christmas Lectures every year in their entirety. Anyone who breaks this law will be considered a traitor and publicly executed.
UK television is increasingly becoming more American, but even if the Queen’s speech is interrupted by Kanye West to claim Beyonce did it better, the RI Christmas lectures will remain as the last bastion of truly Great British television.
On a surface level the RI lectures have the kind of brilliant naffness that only British TV has. One lecture, which had a particular impact on me as a child, showed a middle aged university lecturer crawling through a children’s play-tunnel to demonstrate black holes. They don’t have that on HBO!
But it’s much more than the aesthetics of the shows that make them great it’s the values behind it. With Higher education feeling increasingly elitist, the RI lectures are for anyone who owns a TV. The powers that be can raise tuition fees and take away grants but they can’t stop you learning about black holes from a middle-aged man with a children’s play-tunnel.
Originally published here: http://www.newtheatreroyal.com/interview-new-theatre-royal-associate-artist-joe-wells/
I’m going to make a groundbreaking observation in this blog and say that all of the people we have in positions of political or economic power seem to look the same, they’re pretty much all white, straight, able-bodied and wealthy men.
“wow! He said what we’re all thinking! So brave!”
Ok, so I might be walking well-trodden ground with a blog about the unfairness of who gets to be in charge and who doesn’t but it’s such a big deal that I’m surprised any blogs are ever about anything else. I’m surprised any other news is ever covered whilst this is going on, surely the news at ten every day should go “equality of opportunity is a myth, people from wealthy backgrounds still hold the majority of executive positions in business and politics, more on this story as it develops”
How could this possibly have been allowed to happen? Our social, economic and political power is predetermined by things that we didn’t choose and have no control over. Its not as though if you work hard enough then the boss pulls you in and says “well Jane, you’ve been putting in lots of overtime and meeting all your targets so we’ve decided to promote you to ‘white cisgendered male’, clear your desk, you’ll be getting your own office”. It’s arbitrary things like class, gender, or race that you’re born with which decide how much power you are allocated, like a quiz in Cosmo magazine where at the end you add up your points and if you score less than 20 then you’re probably not going to be leader of a mainstream political party.
I sometimes feel like I’m the only person who is angry that this is how we’ve decided to distribute power in our society, I walk around thinking “this can’t be right? People would be more angry if we only let posh white guys be in charge?” People just seem to accept that power comes not from good leadership or hard work but through the lucky draw of class or gender. People talk about this unfairness as though it’s an unchangeable truth. “The sun will rise and fall, all things must die, and 37% of our elected officials are privately educated. This is how it is, how it has always been and how it shall always be”.
People say “life’s not fair” but not as a rallying call to arms, they say it as though it’s just one of the facts of life that you learn when you grow up, as though fairness and equality of opportunity are the political equivalent of Santa Claus and The Easter Bunny.
We wouldn’t be this complacent in other aspects of life, if you got mugged you wouldn’t walk away shrugging your shoulders saying “well, he had a knife, I didn’t, what can you do, eh?” We should be furious about this unfairness because it affects almost all of us.
I don’t know how to make the way we distribute power more fair but in the words of Howard Beale in the film Network there’s one thing I know; first of all, you’ve got to get mad!
Immigrants have made Los Angeles ‘unrecognisable’ say locals Los Angeles locals have threatened to leave their home city because immigration has transformed their home into an ‘unrecognisable place’. A recent survey found that 95% of LA residents feel that the city is overrun with Vinnie Joneses. one resident said “if you stepped off a plane at LA airport, you wouldn’t think you were in the hip, happening city we all know and love. you’d think it was the set of some terrible british gangster movie” A local restaurant owner said “I wouldn’t mind if the Vinnie Joneses were willing to integrate with our culture but they don’t even eat the same food as us, they get all their foreign food imported, its terrible for the local economy”. Another resident said “I’m not prejudiced, one of my best friends is a Vinnie Jones, but when I walk down the street I don’t see a single born and bred local, the city is full of ex-footballers, 2-bit actors and the cast of Madagascar 3”
Immigrants have made Los Angeles ‘unrecognisable’ say locals
Los Angeles locals have threatened to leave their home city because immigration has transformed their home into an ‘unrecognisable place’.
A recent survey found that 95% of LA residents feel that the city is overrun with Vinnie Joneses. one resident said “if you stepped off a plane at LA airport, you wouldn’t think you were in the hip, happening city we all know and love. you’d think it was the set of some terrible british gangster movie”
A local restaurant owner said “I wouldn’t mind if the Vinnie Joneses were willing to integrate with our culture but they don’t even eat the same food as us, they get all their foreign food imported, its terrible for the local economy”. Another resident said “I’m not prejudiced, one of my best friends is a Vinnie Jones, but when I walk down the street I don’t see a single born and bred local, the city is full of ex-footballers, 2-bit actors and the cast of Madagascar 3”
Should Politicians Tell Jokes?
In recent years there has been a growing trend for politicians turning their hand to stand-up comedy. Because I’m a political comedian I have been a first hand witness to Tom Levitt, Lembit Öpik and Stephen Pound’s failed attempts at mastering the art form.
Hearing about the time when a train passenger saw Lembit’s penis and enduring Tom Levitt’s Ken Dodd impression are both horrible experiences surpassed in painfulness only by the YouTube footage of Sarah Teather doing a short stand-up set at the 2011 LibDem conference, the kind of footage you would read about being used to torture prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.
What is horrible about politicians doing stand-up is not the fact that they’re no good at it; that’s understandable, it takes time to learn how to be a comedian, its not like being Education Secretary or Health Minister where you can just pick it up as you go along.
What is horrible is that these politicians seem to think that if they act like zany, up-for-a-laugh, goofballs then I will respect them more than if they behave like the aggressively dull individuals that they actually are.
The truth is the opposite. I don’t want funny politicians. I want funny friends, funny colleagues and funny comedians. But when someone has control over our education, healthcare and nuclear weapons I want them to be as boring as is humanly possible.
Politicians, like accountants, geography teachers and Gwyneth Paltrow, have always and should always be boring and unfunny. I urge any politicians reading this - be proud of your dreariness! Let it shine dull and go unnoticed to all around you. Remember, you are not an interesting person, your favourite band is Coldplay, you like the novels of John Grisham and you were never cut out for stand-up comedy.