Funding the funny... | Mr Drayton says it's not the Arts Council we should be lobbying

Funding the funny...

Mr Drayton says it's not the Arts Council we should be lobbying

There's money in them thar comedy hills. Well, for a chosen few there is.

The rest however have to scrabble round in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

With comedy clubs closing their doors at an alarming rate, where can a clown make a living? Maybe a state sponsored grant from an august funding body such as the Arts Council?

In many places this news has been met with derision. The world of comedy is awash with money, and, for arguments sake – can comedy really be called ‘Art’?

In recent years more and more practitioners have described what they do as their ‘art’. It is something that has to be crafted, nurtured, polished – but in the end the majority of the form is just a white bloke talking. If you put that talking bloke in a gallery, stand him next to a Titian – would that make it ‘art’? Not really, it would just be a bloke talking.

Perhaps the closest comedy comes to art is in the arena of the surreal. The comedians and sketch writers who take us into realms of absurdity. Tony Law's flights of fancy, Simon Munnery’s far-reaching and genre challenging work, Vic and Bob’s more outré efforts all appear to have a foot in the world of art. Its closest relative might be Outsider Art, or something Yoko Ono once threw up.

If the challenge is to get the Arts Council to recognise the world of comedy as art and consequentially stump up some brass to fund it, those making this demand are, I think, looking in the wrong direction.

Rather than railing against the Arts Council, how about looking to those raking in industrial amounts of cash instead? The few who come to town, pitch up in an arena to service thousands on a premium rate are taking the cash. The few who appear with tedious regularity on panel shows are taking the cash. The agents who have the monopoly on the acts and the panel shows and the tours are taking the cash. In an ideal world some of that money could be recycled to help the funsters aiming to be the next Frankie Boyle or Peter Kay.

It's never going to happen is it? Off The Avalon and their like are not going to be relaxing their grip on the comedy world until they've wrung it dry. How's about challenging them to scoop off some of the profits and fund some comedy art?

Good luck with that.

Published: 13 Aug 2015

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