The BBC comedy chief says social media is stopping comedy from testing boundaries. Has he seen Fleabag and Derry Girls?
Great leaps forward in comedy happen by asking the big questions. What if you created a show that unapologetically showed the horror of war? You get MAS*H. What if you created a sitcom about nothing? You get Seinfeld. What if you filmed a dog falling into an indoor swimming pool while a disembodied Harry Hill makes snide comments about the wood panelling? You get You’ve Been Framed from 2004 onwards. And so we witnessed another great moment in comedy this week, when the BBC’s head of comedy asked the question we didn’t realise needed to be asked: is comedy dying because the internet is turning people into Victorians?
Last week, at the launch of the well-meaning British Comedy Foundation, Shane Allen railed against the way social media has imposed a “Victorian moral code” on comedians, which damages the medium’s ability to “test boundaries and challenge orthodoxies”.