I don't think this kind of thing has an impact on the unconverted, frankly. It's not even preaching to the converted; it's titillating the converted. I think the people who say we need satire often mean, "We need satire of them, not of us." I'm fond of quoting Peter Cook, who talked about the satirical Berlin cabarets of the '30s, which did so much to stop the rise of Hitler and prevent the Second World War.I went to see Jeremy Hardy talk at a festival last month, and he was asked about this - whether he feels that being a lefty funny-man is futile, pointless; essentially, why he bothers 'preaching to the choir' (isn't it odd how they never ask Bernard Manning why he bothers preaching racism, sexism and general bigotry to a choir full of racist, sexist bigots?).
They're asking the wrong question. They're assuming that he does what he does to convert people: that a successful gig is one where an arch-Tory war-mongering privatiseer has a Damascene conversion, sees the light, jumps up in the middle of the show and bellows, "I was wrong! Boris is wrong! Thatcher... yes, I see it now; the scales have fallen from my eyes: you, lefty funny-man, you have brought me to the truth: THATCHER WAS WRONG!"
Which, in fairness, would be super-cool...
Hardy says he does it to keep our spirits up. Being a right-on pinko wannabe world-saver is depressing enough at the best of times - and right now, what with the whole recession thing, the Contemptible Coalition, the way the plans to ensure that 'everyone shares the austerity burden!' mysteriously hit the ladies and the poor hardest, and this fucking weather (IS THIS AUGUST?), it's downright miserable. So cheering us up on the long damp drudge to the dole queue sounds like quite a noble endeavour. Someone's got to save the world; someone - like kind Mr Hardy - has to cheer up the Guevaras and Pankhursts when they're shattered after a long day's world-saving and just want a sit-down, a cuppa and a giggle.
Besides, 'titillating the converted'? Someone's gotta do it.