UK & World News
MPs To Campaign For Comedians... Seriously!
Who says politics is no laughing matter?
A group of MPs have formed a committee to campaign on behalf of Britain's comedians.
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the UK Comedy Industry held its first meeting in the Commons this week and elected Scottish Labour MP Michael McCann as chairman.
But it is not just a bunch of MPs sitting around telling jokes. The deadly serious purpose of the group is to support and promote the UK comedy industry.
Former Labour minister Lord Foulkes, an ex-chairman of Hearts FC - which certainly requires a sense of humour! - was elected as vice-chair.
Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke, who once wore a tiger-striped onesie in the Commons and on TV for charity, is another vice-chair and Labour MP David Hamilton (not the TV funny man and Ken Dodd sidekick of the same name) is the group's secretary.
The meeting heard from comedian John Moloney about the industry's importance to the country's finances; its economic value, in terms of films, television and the money stand-up comedy generates for local economies.
"This a massive industry, yet, for the most part its contribution goes unrecognised and unsupported," he said.
"The creative industries in Britain employ more people than the engineering industry or the pharmaceutical industry"
Mr McCann said: "There are literally hundreds of All Party Parliamentary Groups covering a plethora of subjects.
"However, I was surprised to learn when John put the idea to me that there is no APPG supporting the UK Comedy industry.
"It seemed rather odd not to celebrate and promote the work of such an important British institution, so we've remedied that omission by starting up this new APPG.
"But the group is about much more than just celebrating the successes, it's about tackling serious issues.
"For example, British comedians have difficulty getting visas to work in the USA, Canada and Australia, while the comedians from those countries can work here, why?
"In addition, there is a VAT issue around selling tickets for comedy shows which means that there are treated differently to other creative industries, again an anomaly that needs to be examined.
"As a Parliamentarian I'm delighted to be given the opportunity to be the first chair of the UK Comedy APPG.
"Our country is very good at delivering top class comedians. We should celebrate our successes and tackle industry problems because comedy is a serious business."
In other words, this new group is no joke.