It’s time for a sharp exit after Boris remark on election night
Suddenly I was sat on live television and I didn’t really know what to do
IWAS on STV’s election coverage the other night, and I called Boris Johnson a reptile on live TV.
On the drive home, the taxi driver asked me, “Were you on at the election show?” and I was like, “Aye.”
“What party do you work for?” he asked me.
“None of them,” I said. “I don’t really know why I was there.”
I still don’t know, really. Why do comedians get put on these programmes?
The lovely and kind Rona Dougall was hosting, and she gave me a great introduction: “Here’s an up-and-coming comedian, Christopher Macarthur-Boyd! What did you think about the leaders on the election trail, then?”
Until a few minutes ago, I’d been sitting in the green room with a bunch of young political activists. It’s incredibly strange to find yourself slouched in a faux-casual couch-based set-up with the Young Scottish Tories of Tomorrow; glassy-eyed mannequin boys with poor fashion senses and horrific ideals.
A pubescent man among them said he was a LibDem campaigner, but would have voted for Rory Stewart if he was the Tory Leader. He was wearing Clarks-style black leather slip-ons, beige ankle socks and he had a surprisingly good haircut. I hated him.
Then, suddenly, I was sat on live television and I didn’t really know what to do.
“Well, some people say that comedy is tragedy plus time,” I sputtered. “We’ve had the tragedy happen tonight, so I suppose we just need to wait until it’s funny.”
Over on Channel 4, they had an Alternative Election show that was choc full of comedians. Bigtime names like Nish Kumar and Katherine Ryan. But what were the comedians there for? They’re there to make people laugh, in theory. But what can a raised eyebrow and a pithy ironic one-liner do in the face of the rising tide of rightwing English nationalism? It doesn’t really seem appropriate.
I actually felt really bad for Nish when I watched the Alternative Election show. He was sharing a panel with Boris Johnson’s dad, and the old guy was hitting out with some ridiculous non-sequitur about how fighter pilots shouldn’t wear hijabs. Nish had to be the sane voice of reason, which seems like an odd role for a stand-up comedian.
The STV election show had a bit of a different feel, as the Scottish coverage was a bit less about the slaughter of Labour and a bit more about the landslide majority of the SNP.
Along with the Young Scottish Tories of Tomorrow, there was a Labour campaigner in the STV green room too. He was a heavyset guy with a Northern English accent wearing a tracksuit, and he tried to give the Tory boys a bit of cheek for laughing about the results of the exit polls.
“This isn’t like t’football to me, where your team has won and mine has lost,” he said to them incredibly earnestly. “This is my class on the line, here: the working class. People are going to die.”
I agreed with him ideologically, but his solemn proclamation really put a dampener on my rapid nervous consumption of complimentary snacks that were on display.
“What did you think about Boris in the fridge?” asked Rona, alluding to when Johnson retreated into an industrial freezer to escape a potential live interview with Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain the night before.
“Well, he went in a fridge, didn’t he?” I said. “That’s what happened. He went in a fridge. I didn’t know cold-blooded creatures could go in fridges. You put an iguana in a fridge, it’ll die. The guy is a reptile.”
I think that threw Rona a wee bit. Her eyes widened, and she said, “Oh, you can’t say that!” and then the attention shifted from me to some other folk that needed interviewing.
I would like to clarify that by calling Boris Johnson a reptile, I wasn’t alluding to the Ickeian conspiracy theory that the planet is governed by a new world order of shapeshifting lizardmen. I simply meant that I thought our new prime minister was cold-blooded and calculating.
Minutes later, I was shepherded out of the STV building on Pacific Quay and ushered into the taxi to take me home. I felt quite numb about the whole thing. What was the point in it? Why was I there?
A pal of mine ripped the footage from the channel’s online player and uploaded it to Twitter, and the clip of the reptile footage got a few views, and I got a few followers out of it. People thought it was funny, so… job done. I think.
It’s probably counter-intuitive career-wise to say this, but I don’t think comedians should be on programmes like that. There are some knowledgeable comedians – Frankie Boyle, for instance – who belong there, but not me.
I see my role as a comedian is to offer a distraction to people from the relentless horror of their dayto-day existence.
I’m going to try and write some better jokes, because it seems like we’re going to need some laughs in the years ahead.