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Armando Iannucci, Jess Phillips and Jan Ravens on Satire in an Age of Absurdity

Has satire lost its power in this new world of fake news and ‘alternative facts’ - when our leaders lie so blatantly and frequently, and still manage to get away with it? Or is humour a more important tool than ever to hold those in power to account?

Video coming soon.

Is the absurdity of Donald Trump’s presidency killing satire? Or is he the comedy gift that keeps on giving? At first, Trump’s election seemed to have ushered in a new golden age of political comedy, from Alec Baldwin’s golden-wigged caricature in a newly resurgent Saturday Night Live to the righteous ridicule of Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert. But while we like to believe in the power of satire to challenge our leaders, Trump seems completely immune to ridicule.

He is subject to some of the most ferocious mockery in history, depicted every day as an idiotic charlatan with tiny hands, and yet remains relatively unscathed. Some have argued that the outlandishness of his administration has rendered satire redundant — how can you make fun of something already this ridiculous? Meanwhile here in the UK, our politics seem so bizarrely chaotic and dysfunctional that reality often seems to merge with parody. Our historic major political parties are led by Corbyn and Johnson — two figures who appall much of the public. How could any satirist dream up this mess?

So has satire lost its power in this new world of fake news and ‘alternative facts’ – when our leaders lie so blatantly and frequently, and still manage to get away with it? Or is humour a more important tool than ever to hold those in power to account? To unpack these questions, Intelligence Squared is bringing together some of the nation’s top names in comedy and politics — Armando Iannucci, Jess Phillips, Jan Ravens and Samira Ahmed. Join us on Tuesday 18th February, hear the arguments and laugh through your tears.

If you have any questions or concerns about accessibility, there is more information on the venue’s website here. If you are attending with someone to assist you, please purchase one ticket and then get in touch with Union Chapel on events@unionchapel.org.uk or 020 7226 1686 to arrange a complimentary companion ticket.


Speakers

Speakers

Armando Iannucci

Celebrated comedy writer and producer


One of Britain’s most celebrated comedy writers, directors and producers. He is the creator of Veep, The Day Today, Alan Partridge, The Saturday Night Armistice and The Thick of It. He has directed films including The Death of Stalin and most recently The Personal History of David Copperfield. He is also the author of Hear Me Out: All My Music.

Jess Phillips

Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley


Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley and prominent critic of the current Labour leadership. She has been hailed by JK Rowling as ‘a heroine’, for her pronouncements in the House of Commons. She is the author of the books Everywoman: One Woman’s Truth About Speaking the Truth and Truth to Power: 7 Ways to Call Time on B.S.

Jan Ravens

Satirist and impressionist


Satirist and impressionist, best known for her work on Spitting Image and Dead Ringers. Her Theresa May impression achieved cult status, going viral on social media and with over 1 million views on YouTube. She is a regular contributor across BBC Radio 4, on programmes such as Just A Minute and I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, and also current affairs programmes such as Broadcasting House, The Week in Westminster and Today.
Chair

Samira Ahmed

Journalist, writer and broadcaster


One of the most recognised voices in British broadcasting. Her work spans news and the arts – from working as a reporter and presenter on Channel 4 News to presenting the Proms. She presents Front Row on BBC Radio 4 and Newswatch on BBC One.

 

Speakers are subject to change.