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Laughing matter: Brexit decision a godsend for comedians

By Agence France-presse in London | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-07 08:06

Divisive, chaotic and with implications for almost every aspect of national life, Brexit has been a godsend for political satirists - giving them a wealth of material - and audiences desperate for a laugh.

"There's a voracious appetite in the UK for anything to do with Brexit, and there's a huge appetite for satire," said Neil Rafferty, editor-in-chief of the popular satirical website The Daily Mash.

He told AFP: "It's a massive subject. There's also a massive number of colorful characters involved. There are some very extreme views, which are great for satirists."

Britons have a long tradition of turning to humor in troubled times, and the June referendum vote to leave the European Union has inspired comedians across the country.

"When it comes to writing jokes, this referendum outcome is a better one," comedian Al Murray, who adopts the persona of a xenophobic pub owner, told The Guardian newspaper.

Satirical magazine Private Eye is enjoying record sales of 230,000 copies every fortnight, while social media is alive with Brexit-related gags.

One poked fun at the insistence that Britain will be better off outside the European single market, with the headline: "Australia ideal trading partner, say Britons happy to wait three months for stuff."

Comedy can also help Britons deal with some of the darker issues thrown up by Brexit, including reports of an increase in hate crime after a referendum campaign dominated by immigration.

"Brexit raised a lot of tensions, some of them racial, a lot of them political," said Steve Bennett, editor of comedy industry website Chortle.

"I think comedy is an important tool in smoothing over that."

But while most comedians were in the Remain camp, jokes are also flowing from the other side of the political divide.

Stand-up Geoff Norcott, who backed Brexit, told AFP: "We'll laugh until we are really poor. And then we'll laugh for different reasons. Because laughing is better than crying."


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