New Internationalist

Pete Cain: ‘It’s time the British people woke up and rose up!’

Web exclusive

The self-described ‘radically reasonable’ comedian tells Jo Lateu why.

Kazimir Bielecki
Kazimir Bielecki

Who or what inspires you?

Wang Wei Lin – the Chinese student who stood in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989 – and anyone like him who is prepared to put their head above the parapet for the greater good of others. However, it’s not just the huge political gestures that give me inspiration. The people who do little but very important things in our society every day inspire me, too. The one person in a queue who is prepared to confront a queue jumper despite the fact that they know it’s unlikely they’ll receive any support from the people around them, for example.

What are you politically passionate about?

The British Revolution. It’s high time the British people woke up and rose up. The ruling classes have turned the UK from a democracy into a plutocracy – the wealthy rule for the benefit of themselves and the transnational corporation they’re in cahoots with. They’ve devised an interesting new system of privatizing profit and socializing loss. This won’t change; in fact, it will get worse, particularly if Scotland becomes independent because the few remaining socialist ideals that have any influence in our political system are predominately upheld by Scottish politicians.

If you could banish one person from the earth, who would it be?

Rupert Murdoch. He has probably done more than anyone in the last 30 years to corrupt and manipulate the political agenda in this country, and indeed numerous countries all over the world. His influence in the corridors of power and on the psyche of the British people through his control of the media is not to be under-estimated.

Can comedy be a tool for political and social change?

It’s not just the huge political gestures that give me inspiration. The people who do little but very important things in our society every day inspire me too

A tool? It’s often the drill bit that breaks through the rock-face of prejudice and preconception. You can open people’s minds to all sorts of things through comedy that you’ll never get through to them about in any other way. I wager that every social leap forward we’ve seen in this country over the past 30 years has coincided with a comedian discussing or representing those issues on mainstream television. Likewise, political comedy reaches people who would otherwise pay no attention to political issues. What about Beppe Grillo, the comedian who stirred up Italian politics in a way that was remarkable even by Italian standards? Whether the British public could be stirred into action by a comedian remains to be seen.

Your new show offers an interesting solution to the immigration ‘problem’ – kick everyone out and then only let the nice ones back in. Who gets in and who doesn’t, and why?

That’s what the show is all about so you’ll have to come and see it to find out. All I will say is that it’s very funny.

If you didn’t live in Britain, where would you live, and why?

I wouldn’t want to live somewhere else. I’d have to be from that somewhere else and the time period would also have a bearing on my choice. I would have loved to have lived in any of the places that have experienced great revolutions, or indeed currently are, but of all of them throughout history I would have to choose Athens in 508/7 BC – the year the Athenian revolution established the first democracy.

Do you think that humour is a universal language?

It’s a universal language in the same way that language itself is universal. There are just different dialects. Everyone is saying exactly the same things. It’s only the vocal sounds that are different. Mr Bean makes people laugh all over the world, although he’s enjoyed in some cultures more than others. There are levels of sophistication when it comes to humour but the ability to laugh is one of the greatest human gifts and should be enjoyed wherever and whenever possible.

You’ve been described as ‘radically reasonable’. What does that mean to you?

I wasn’t described that way; it was a phrase I wrote myself as part of the promotional blurb for the show. However, had I not already named the show ‘Everybody Out’ I would have called it ‘Radically Reasonable’. Again, I don’t want to give away any of the show’s content so I’ll give a radical but reasonable example of what I think it means: the human race is in crisis in terms of its ability to survive on the planet with ever increasing population levels and diminishing resources. So, the choices that need to be made with that in mind have to be radical but are also reasonable, under the circumstances.

What would you like your epitaph to be?

Here lies the first man to volunteer to be buried vertically in order to save space.

For details of Pete’s Edinburgh Fringe dates, and to buy tickets, go to the Edinburgh Fringe website.
www.petecain.com / www.getcomedy.com / Twitter: @petecaincomedy

Comments on Pete Cain: ‘It’s time the British people woke up and rose up!’

Leave your comment