Stand Up For Satire, hosted at the Union Chapel in Islington on 30 July, brought together some of the UK’s top comedians for a night of championing free expression and satire in support of Index on Censorship.
Host Al Murray was joined by a stellar line-up of stand-up comics before a sell-out crowd of 900. Shappi Khorsandi, the host of Index’s 2015 Freedom of Expression Awards, kicked off the evening and joked: “The Iranian regime advocates free speech, but only before not after the expression.” She was followed by Irish comic Grainne Maguire and then comedian, rapper and actor Doc Brown.
Just before the interval, Heydon Prowse from BBC Three’s The Revolution Will Be Televised spoke of the importance of free expression within satire, and appealed to the audience to support Index’s work. Prowse will be joined by Revolution Will Be Televised-partner Jolyon Rubinstein and the cast of Zambezi News, Zimbabwe’s leading satirical news show, in a comedy event hosted by Index on 27 August.
The second half saw performances from comedian and actress Kerry Godliman, and comic and writer Frankie Boyle, before Irish stand-up Andrew Maxwell closed the show.
Index on Censorship has been publishing articles on satire by writers across the globe throughout its 43-year history. Ahead of our event, Stand Up For Satire, we published a series of archival posts from the magazine on satire and its connection with freedom of expression.
Cast members of Zambezi News, pictured left to right – Michael Kudakwashe, Samm Farai Monro, Chipo Chikara and Tongai Makawa
“The fact that there is a thriving satire in Zimbabwe and that we, as the cheeky cast of Zambezi News are still alive, confuses a lot of people,” writes Harare-based comedian Samm Farai Monro, aka Comrade Fatso, in the latest issue of Index on Censorship magazine. His feature, Comedy of Terrors, explores the country’s growing comedy scene and looks at how humour is being used to challenge power.
Monro is the co-founder of Zambezi News, a web series that has been running since 2011, bringing with it a fresh, bolshy and satirical take on the Zimbabwean political system. The show has reached millions of viewers across the country and beyond.
“However,” Monro adds, “being a leading satire show and poking fun at the powerful comes with risks: one of our main actors in Zambezi News has been threatened by people we suspect are security agents.”
Monro writes of the need for Zimbabwean comedians to keep pushing boundaries in the summer 2015 edition of Index on Censorship magazine. He also looks at the emergence of other satirical shows, including Comic King Show and PO Box, and the comedy clubs in Harare that regularly attract capacity crowds. Subscribe here to read the full story and watch some clips of Zambezi News below.
Index on Censorship is hosting its own comedy event at the Union Chapel, Islington, to raise awareness of the importance of satire for free expression worldwide. Stand Up For Satire will be hosted by the Al Murray the Pub Landlord on 30 July, with comedians Frankie Boyle, Shappi Khorsandi, Grainne Maguire, Doc Brown and more. Tickets are £20 for general admission and £15 for concessions; availability is limited.
“After record breaking inflation in 2008, we dumped our currency and stole our neighbour’s notes instead.”
“Do you find foreign governments in your underwear… Well you need sovereignty.”
“The Minister of Transport today came up with an innovative solution to deal with the traffic chaos bedeviling Harare; they’re going to introduce driving licenses.”