The Brexit and other comedies

Posted July 19, 2016 on 4:33 pm | In the category Europe, Palin, Uncategorized | by Mackenzie Brothers

Remember the good old days when the very concept of British comedy was not an oxymoron? Shakespeare had several good shows, Alec Guiness and the lads were terrific as a bunch of bungling robbers or, on occasion, even ladykillers. The Carry on Boys carried on in their (to many folks) hilarious ways and Marty Feldman and the crew added a touch of lunacy to the overall mixture. And let’s not forget the young Peter Sellers as a union boss, an Indian second-string actor mistakenly invited to a Hollywood party, or the many-gendered leaders of a mock republic. And to top it all off, there were the incomparable Pythons, who dominated tv for nearly a decade, adding such signature lines   to the general vocabulary as the brave Sir Robin’s admonition to the  band of  (un)happy warriors to “run away, run away” when under pressure, or Sir Gawain’s analysis of his physical condition – “it’s just a scratch” – as his limbs are lopped off  by the giant guardian of the road.

But is has been several decades since the Pythons ruled the comedy world, and it is with a sigh of relief that the world (or at least the European part of it) was treated to a new English comedy team arguably outperforming even John Cleese, Michael Palin, Erik Idle and the lads in their cleverness and creativity on the comedy front.  Now the cast of characters in this fiasco  is supposed  to include a prime minister, who demanded a plebiscite on leaving Europe, on the assumption that it would lose and his female replacement, when it didn’t,   the leader of the opposition (or one of the oppositions) and a windbag of a mayor with a Trump-copied hairdo, who has learned only one thing – to turn with the wind. And amazingly these were all real people, and they got the chance to act out their roles in real history, if their is such a thing, (can the US election really be real?)  and they succeeded in acting with a comic touch that impressed even veteran theatre people, though some thought that their frequent attempts at farce were a bit much.   And then, to top it off, each of the leaders of the Brexit, boys, taking the brave Sir Robyn’s advice to heart, jumped ship after they had won, which they could hardly believe and had no idea of what to do afterwards. (They are not the only ones)  The cartoonists of the German papers could hardly believe their luck as they sketched out the clownish crew racing for the row boats to escape in.  Now some critics have pointed out that this is a  plot too heavily drawn from French bedroom farces (and this at a time when the French Prime Minister is most memorable as the guy who hopped on his vespa wearing a moonman helmet in order to scoot off to his mistress one evening while his bodyguard followed in a car, or was it a bike?). In summary, the prime minister, assuming that his plan would fail, actually had misread the tea leaves and was forced to resign when the votes were counted, the  loud-mouthed supporters of leaving Europe actually had no intention (and no plan) of actually doing so and disappeared as fast as they could, and the new female prime minister immediately named the most outlandish of the Brexiters to be the new foreign minister.  He was met with derision of course by his European counterparts, some of which are real heavyweights unused to clowns and said so.

My brother and I had the great pleasure of being part of an overflow crowd on the day after Brexit in front of the large public-viewing screens in the Löwenbräu Biergarten in Munich, watching the European soccer championship quarter-final match between the Icelandic team, drawn from a country with 330,000 citizens, and England, drawn from a country with about 20o times as many people.  There was a table of Englishman near us, and a table of Icelanders not far away, and they of course each cheered for their home teams, though the English table became silent as the game progressed.  The rest of the crowd was made up mainly of other Europeans , who cheered loudly every time Iceland had the ball and marched triumphantly out onto the streets after Iceland won.  It was of course to some extent just a show of overwhelming support for a complete underdog but it was also certainly also a sign of the dark future for Great Britain’s future relationship with Europe.  And maybe that’s not so funny after all.

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