The PJ Tatler

Open Thread: Do We Really Want Our Politicians To Be Funny?

In twenty five years on the road I’ve never tried to influence legislation or send people to war, so my answer is no.

The politician-as-comedian is the hardest trick to pull off. Whatever you think of him as a president, there is no denying that with a script in front of him, Barack Obama can deliver a joke with timing and poise. Others – notably Boris Johnson – can be genuinely funny off the cuff. But most politicians are neither natural actors nor naturally witty: a large number of people who go into politics are dry, humourless policy wonks. Watching them deliver a joke – or, worse, come up with one themselves – is like watching the ape-men around the obelisk at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey: they know it’s important, but its workings are a mystery.