'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Friday, 19 October 2012

Why are US politicians funnier than ours?

Last night was the Al Smith Dinner, held in New York every four years (by the Roman Catholic church) and always attended by the main two Presidential candidates. Each makes a speech. And they have to be funny. Even Mitt.

The amazing thing is - they were funny. Here's Romney...

And Obama we know can be funny...here is at the last Dinner 4 years ago

The really strange thing -is all the US politicians can do this.

Here's George W Bush!! (really gets going 45 seconds in)

Al Gore (I love this)

Bill Clinton

Now William Hague is funny - but really, apart from him. I mean....

Thatcher in Yes prime Minister?...


  1. You're not comparing like with like though. Thatcher famously didn't have much of a sense of humour.

    But William Hague for example can be hilarious. His "Tony Blair becoming President of Europe" speech a few years back was sublime.

    We also have (and have had) MPs like Tony Banks, Stephen Pound and Mo Mowlam. Tony Blair had a great ear for a joke and excellent comic timing.

    And on our own side of course Tim Farron who I suspect could have been a stand-up comedian if he had wanted to.

    I think we do better than you are giving ourselves credit for.

  2. ah, now I do agree on Hague (I did mention him...); saw him speak at a dinner once and he was absolutely hilarious.

    But i'd struggle to really find examples of set piece speeches that do the same as US Leaders do; Cameron at the Mansion House for example. I think maybe its because we have no tradition of expecting them to be funny? Remember Tony Blair doing Catherine Taite for Comic Relief? Him doing it was funny - but he wasn't that funny himself (in fact he was acting a role which he did rather well - Oh the irony)

    I do remember other leaders doing interesting stuff - Neil Kinnock was in a Tracy Ullman video - but can i imagine any of the current party leaders carrying off the Al Gore saturday Night Live speech? Not really, if I'm honest.

    I would happily organise an event to see if they can do it tho....

  3. I missed your Hague comment. Fair enough.

    I sort of agree with you but I think Cameron, Blair even Major would be able to give a humorous set-piece speech if it was required of them. Brown and Thatcher I would have doubts about but as you say we don't have a tradition of this. If we did maybe they never would have been elected.

  4. well there's a good argument for introducing that tradition :-)