4.11. Satire, Public Emotions and the Clownfall of Boris Johnson

After a thoroughly uneventful week in British politics Jo and Adam struggle to think of any topical satire that they can meaningfully talk about… NOT! In the immediate wake of the “Pincher Affair” and the revelation that he met – unaccompanied – with a former KGB agent during his time as Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson is hit with a world beating volume of government resignations: over 50 in less than 48 hours. What a lot of churn! Surrounded by speakers blasting the Benny Hill theme into 10 Downing Street, Boris Johnson finally decides to call it a day… or does he? He appears at the podium and delivers a bombastic self congratulatory speech which sounds a little like a resignation, but then returns to duty, later revealing that he will remain in place for the time being as a “care-taker” PM. Seconds later, Rishi Sunak, who had been among the very first to resign mere days before, publishes his campaign video to be the next leader of the Conservative party. Suffice it to say, there was plenty to chew on for amateur and professional satirists alike, as an unprecedented wave of surreal, incredulous and downright farcical gifs, memes, tweets and sketches subsumed the internet. In this episode, Adam and Jo pick through and discuss some of the satirical highs and lows of this weird week in politics, before calling upon the expertise of Professor Robert Phiddian, author of Satire and the Public Emotions (CUP) to try to understand what all of this might tell us about satire’s relationship to what neuroscience names the CAD Triad of Emotions: Contempt, Anger and Disgust. And finally, they also launch the Smith & Waugh Satirical Summer Reading Challenge

Listen to the full episode!