THE new director-general of the BBC arrived at the Glasgow offices this week in jeans and an open-neck shirt which means he must be a pretty cool guy and easy-going and just like you and me. But he also apparently believes there are too many left-wing comedians on the BBC, which is not a very cool thing to think at all. In fact, it makes me laugh. Left-wing comedians are not the problem.

What the new DG, Tim Davie, is reported to believe is that there’s a bias against Brexit, Tories and Trump in shows like Have I Got News For You and that the producers should look for a broader range of targets and book more right-leaning comics. Mr Davie told the staff in Glasgow that the BBC should represent every part of the country which presumably includes parts that vote Tory or Leave.

But I fear Mr Davie has not had a good first day at work – in fact, I fear he has missed the point about the realities of comedy. Saying comedy shows are full of left-wing comedians is like saying soap operas are full of people having affairs or news bulletins are full of people telling you what is happening in the world. The point is comedy shows are always going to feel left-wing but aren’t really.

That is not to deny that there’s a bit of a problem in some parts of comedy. I’ve spoken to quite a few comedians that you might call right-leaning, including the Scottish stand-up Leo Kerse, and all of them, more or less, say the comedy establishment (for want of a better word) is left-wing.

Not only that, every right-leaning comedian I’ve spoken to thinks they’ve lost work because of their views. Leo told me he knows of a venue that won’t book anyone they consider right-wing; another venue cracked an unintentional joke when they told him: “This is an inclusive place, you have to leave.” Stand-up Sarah Southern, who worked for David Cameron, also says she’s lost gigs because she’s a Tory.

None of this is a problem you can do much about – comedy clubs can book who they want – and all the comedians I’ve spoken to say that, even though they’ve occasionally been blacklisted, they’ve always got plenty of work. And there’s a bigger point to all this anyway, which is that left-leaning comedians have proliferated in the last 40 years – or appear to have proliferated – not because they’re left-wing but because they react against the establishment which has, on the whole, been right-leaning in the last 40 years.

That is the point the BBC’s DG should be thinking about. In the 1960s, Monty Python’s targets were bankers, bishops, cabinet ministers and colonels, but the Python team weren’t left-wing as such (and some of them certainly aren’t now). What they were doing was having a go at the establishment because it’s funny. When you’re told something is respectable, poking fun at it is amusing.

This is why shows like Have I Got News For You appear to be left-wing (although whether a show that regularly features the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg can be considered left-wing is another question). For 40 years, the joke has been on Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron, May and Johnson. Most of them, you’ll notice, are Tories so most of the jokes are anti-Tory.

But the logic of this can take you to interesting places. Much of the establishment in Scotland is SNP so you’d expect there to have been a flourishing of anti-SNP comedy. It hasn’t really happened though and I suspect that’s because a lot of Scots don’t see the Scottish Government as the establishment, even though they are. Scots have always had a laugh at authority, but they haven’t quite worked out yet that the authority is now the SNP.

I also think anti-establishment comedy could take on new forms. Geoff Norcott – very Tory, very funny – pointed out to me that some left-wingers believe they have settled on what is good and right and true – “they think they’re in some sort of Marvel franchise where they are the Avengers and everyone else is Thanos,” he said.

But if that’s true, what does it mean for comedy? If left-wing comedians think their beliefs are the settled will, and they dominate comedy, that makes them establishment in a way doesn’t it? And the only way to rebel against the establishment is to be different, a little bit conservative. I think some of that may be already happening, but my advice to Mr Jeans of the BBC is to go with the flow. You do not need to interfere. You do not need to give right-wing comics a helping hand. The jokes will find their target without your help.

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