Arts Writer, Ellie Montgomery, catches up with renowned comedian Phill Jupitus, discussing political comedy and the need for men to move aside and let women take centre stage.
Long-time comedy veteran Phill Jupitus is admired across the world for his stellar stand-up, various acting roles and as a beloved team captain on the panel show Never Mind The Buzzcocks. Beginning his career touring as a performance poet with the likes of The Style Council and The Housemartins, Jupitus then went on to direct music videos for Billy Bragg and Kirsty MacColl. Jupitus brought all of these experiences to his interview with In the Middle, discussing music, politics and comedy.
“The interesting comedy now is mostly from the women. You only have to look at what’s happening in the world with the #metoo campaign.”
Over the years, Phill Jupitus has had prevalent associations with left wing politics and political protest. Discussing Brexit and the current political climate, he muses about “Boris Johnson and that fucking NHS bus, I’m glad he did that because it’s never going to go away. A man standing in front of one of his biggest lies. Good. A visual reminder of what a dick that man is.”
“There has to be another way, that’s all it is. The thing is if I knew what that other way was then I’d be a politician but I’m not – I’m a clown. Don’t come looking to me for answers, all I’m there to say is that this is wrong and you don’t have to have an alternative to say that something is wrong. I’ve got a chest of drawers over there that are broken, I can’t fix it but I know it’s fucking broken! Am I not allowed to say it’s broken because I’m not a carpenter?”
In more recent times Jupitus has, however, moved slightly away from politically charged comedy stating that “I put overtly political stuff less in my shows because it just makes me angry and angry is not entertaining. I just get really ragey really quickly. There’s an almost extreme noise-terror moment of politics which I do just to show why I can’t do politics anymore.”
“Boris Johnson and that fucking NHS bus, I’m glad he did that because it’s never going to go away. A man standing in front of one of his biggest lies”
Despite this, it is extremely clear that Jupitus remains insightful about the role of both comedy and culture in relationship to the political landscape. With a detailed knowledge of popular music, Jupitus considers that “our culture is a mirror to the world around it, the misnomer is that somehow music is a force for change: that it is a broad movement. It’s not, it’s more about changing individual minds and showing alternative perspectives.”
The understanding of current issues and affairs is also apparent in Jupitus’ opinions on the current, and future, direction of the stand-up scene: “The interesting comedy now is mostly from the women. You only have to look at what’s happening in the world with the #metoo campaign. What the women are saying: that’s the new punk rock. How many more middle class white men do we really want to see?! Let us listen to the women – we’ve had the blokes.”
This consideration of the movement of stand-up additionally extends to the discussion of the dichotomy between mainstream and alternative comedy in the 80s, Jupitus reflects that “the reason alternative comedy came about was because of the class system in this country. We like giving things labels and putting things in boxes. My audiences are very broadly spread; it brings a different energy. There’s loads of different people from loads of different backgrounds but you’ve been brought together by a common interest in what I’ve got to say.”
Jupitus is currently touring his latest stand-up show Juplicity across the UK including playing Ilkley, Yorkshire on 6th November.
(Image courtesy of BBC)