Activism doesn’t always arise with a big bright sign or a slogan shouted to a scripted cadence. Often times, in lieu of a crusader or rebel, one is just as likely to find a trickster or clown of some sort, who can take you by surprise as they cause you to think about a deeper social issue.
Now in its second season (or series for our UK readers,) the BBC real sketch comedy show The Revolution Will Be Televised, follows the exploits of creative prankster activists Hayden Prowse and Joylon Rubenstein, as they impersonate everyone from British Members of Parliament, to cafe baristas in order to bring the spotlight onto a variety of serious issues.
In this sketch, while posing as workers of a cappuccino kiosk, Prowse attempts to fleece city investment bankers using the same convoluted apologies for having ripped them off, as they’re known to do to the public.
Now, this variety of activism isn’t new. Theatrics and entertainment have since the dawn of civilization been a part of political expression. And the incorporation of real world subversive or activist comedy into film and television has even created cult followings of their own.
Prior to his commercial success with Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9-11, film maker Michael Moore produced ‘The Awful Truth,‘ a weekly political show featuring documentary segments and sketches aimed at emphasizing the absurdity of current events.
The satirical prankster group The Yes Men have been routinely hoaxing corporate, media and government officials for years, ultimately producing two films with a third in the works. And even the self-described “friendly fascist,” absurdist Vermin Supreme has become something of a subculture icon, with a feature documentary on his life and work debuting soon.
With an increasingly politically aware public, there is no shortage of an appetite of intellectually stimulating entertainment. With so much of the media so hopelessly skewed and biased, so much of what comes out of Hollywood being utter garbage, as well as the vast industrial-congressional complexes maintaining seeming endless social struggles and inequality, it should be no surprise then, that the sight of young tricksters, improvisational actors and sometimes a clown with a boot on his head, pulling one over on those in power is so very pleasing, to so very many.