The best comedy is when you attack the strong, not the weak.
-Ian Hislop, editor.
For the dudes in fedoras, see Hardboiled Detective.A British fortnightly satirical magazine, running since 1961.It does a lot of investigative journalism and has been sued for libel a considerable number of times (it usually loses, and would have been bankrupted by the damages if not for donations from supporters and subscribers). Its editor, Ian Hislop (a team captain on Have I Got News for You), even held the record for 'Most Sued Man in England' for a time. For many years it was verging on a point of pride how long it had been since they won a case. The first time Ian Hislop won a libel suit, the following issue was filled in celebratory manner with yet more libelous material, just because they knew they'd get away with it. note For those reading from outside the UK, it's important to point out that under English law it is possible for something to be both perfectly true and libelous, as it is up to the defendant to prove the truth of what he/she has said, and even then truth is not considered an absolute defense against libel. In the United States, the person bringing the suit has to prove that what was said is false, and American law does consider the truth to be an absolute defense; moreover, in the United States, statements of opinion are also protected, and the definition of "opinion" is quite broad—even factually false statements can be "opinion" in the right context. The flip side of this is that getting an injunction to prevent something being published in the first place is rather harder in Britain - otherwise known as Publish and be damned. Or at least, it was, before the current fad for "super injunctions", where the target is not even allowed to say they have had an injunction put upon them, let alone talk about the original subject...
Regular Cartoons and Ongoing Parodies
"The Broonites", which features the Brown camp of the now former Labour government and who all speak in exaggerated Scottish accents- even the English ones. This is done in the style of The Broons, a cartoon strip from The Sunday Post.
Contains an apparently deliberate example for comic effect of Just Plane Wrong. In the 1205 strip, Gordon Brown is put on a plane to Afghanistan to solve the government's popularity problems. The plane- an English Electric Lightning, long gone from RAF service.
This is possibly a bizarre example of the cartoonist having Shown Their Work. You see, the original cartoonist on The Broons- (Dudley D Watkins) spent the whole of World War Two drawing anything military in the same style as his earlier adventure comics: That is, straight out of World War One.
The Robber Baron cycle, a fictional series of operas detailing the life and crimes of Silvio, the Robber Baron, based on Silvio Berlusconi of Italy.
Radio Times: Classic Opera Buffooni, which opens with the Robber Baron Silvio cavorting in the Palazzo Fornicazione with a chorus of scantily clad nymphs who sing the chorus 'Money, Money, Money — We've come here for the Money'.
Prime Ministerial parodies: Reporting on governmental affairs in the style of something else. These generally take the form of either a personal diary/correspondence (particularly by the PM's spouse) or an internal missive at a fictional institution designed to parody the PM's style or policies.
"The New Coalition Academy" - in the style of a posh school's newsletter for David Cameron's Tory-Lib Dem coalition. Cameron is the headmaster, while Nick Clegg is his deputy. Inspired by the Academies that were part of the Coalition's education policy.
"Prime Ministerial Decrees"- Gordon Brown as a Stalin-style leader. Inspired by a comment by one of Brown's underlings that he had "Stalinst" tendencies in his leadership.
"St. Albion's Parish News" - Tony Blair as a rural vicar of the sanctimonious yet "trendy" type (became a TV series as A Sermon from St Albion's). Inspired by Blair's slickness and known religiosity.
"The Secret Diary of John Major (aged 47¾)" - written in Adrian Mole style.
"Dear Bill" - Margaret Thatcher's husband Denis writes to Bill Deedes, editor of the Daily Telegraph. Capitalised on Sir Denis' perceived alcoholism and actual friendship with Deedes.
"Heathco. Newsletter" - Edward Heath as MD of a failing business (a grocery, apparently, which was used to poke fun at then-Science and Education Secretary and grocer's daughter Maggie Thatcher). Its symbol was a yacht, because Tories.
"Mrs. Wilson's Diary" - Harold Wilson's wife writes in the style of BBC radio show Mrs. Dale's Diary. Inspired by the working-class image Wilson liked to put on, despite the very middle-class reality of his background.
"Supermodels" - Parodies the current events in the fashion industry, all the models in this comic are drawn as a thin line for the body.
"It's Grim Up North London" - features a group of friends of the new age liberal type.
"Pseuds Corner", a column which highlights particularly pompous and pretentious quotes from that week's media.
"Colemanballs", which records ridiculous or just plain stupid quotes from the broadcast (and usually sports) media, usually caused by the low brain-to-mouth delay of spontaneous sports commentary. Named after the now-retired and notoriously gaffe-prone sports commentator David Coleman. A typical Colemanball, spoken by Alan Minter: "Sure there have been injuries and deaths in boxing - but none of them serious."
Extends to other fields when the material is abundant, such as "Warballs" regarding the War On Terror, and "50 Shades of Balls" for overuse of 50ShadesOfGrey references.
"The Book of (Insert Israeli leader name here)", which presents contemporary Middle Eastern events in the style of the King James Bible, and usually ends in "and so it was back to the square which is called one".
"Yobs" or "Yobbettes" when the story features females. A Strip which features (un)working class people behaving yobbishly.
Craig Brown's Diary: Spoof diary of politician or celebrity, usually based on the assumption that their private life is exactly like their public life (So Prince Charles spends all his time worrying about architecture, Barack Obama can only talk in inspirational speeches, and so on). Made into a Radio 4 series as The Lost Diaries.
E.J Thribb: A 17 1/2 year old crap poet. His poems are always "In Memoriam", always begin with "So, farewell then..." and are often bizarre and amusing. Sometimes his name is adapted into an Incredibly Lame Pun: after Ariel Sharon had a stroke, he signed off "E.J Thribbutz".
Gnome: a spoof editorial by the fictional proprieter Lord Gnome or his lackey E. Strobes. (Lord Gnome appeared in the 1993 TV special The Bore of the Year Awards, played by the Eye's real-life contributor and majority shareholder Peter Cook.) Also, "The Curse of Gnome", where they point out that people who've won libel cases against them generally come to a bad end.
Glenda Slagg: Spoof tabloid woman's columnist, whose articles are full of condemnation/praise for whoever the gossip magazines are talking about, usually switching from one to the other within a single column. Catchphrases "Aintchasickofim" and "Dontchaloveim".
Mary Ann Bighead: A particularly vicious send-up of Mary Ann Sieghart, a female lifestyle/politics/culture columnist who the magazine perceives to be arrogant. Frequent references to the spectacular achievements of her children, who are normally named "Brainella" or some other such variant, and the stupidity of politicians, her childrens' teachers and the reader.
Polly Filler: Spoof broadsheet woman's columnist, whose articles are about how difficult it is being an upper-middle class young mother, because you have to spend all day telling the au pair to do things. Also uses her column to plug the collected edition of her columns, the novel based on her columns and, most recently, the film based on the novel based on her columns.
"The Useless Simon", her husband, who she presents as lazy and loutish but who is actually implied to be a better (or at least, as good a) person than she is.
Her name is an Incredibly Lame Pun on PolyFilla, a British brand of spackling paste used to fill up unsightly gaps in walls, in much the same way that Filler's columns are used to fill gaps in the paper with some content, regardless of quality.
The Alternative Voice (Dave Spart): Straw Leftist. And it's typical of the right-wing, Thatcher-loving junta that, er...
Allegedly based (at least recently), on Guardian columnist Seumas Milne, though it draws inspiration from those "left of Chomsky" generally. In his early years, Spart, was based on the USSR's various apologists in the UK (including, at the time, one "HarrySteel" - the pseudonym of...Seumas Milne).
A Taxi-Driver Writes: Straw Conservative. String 'em up, it's the only language they understand. Often found right across from Dave Spart, agreeing with him for entirely different reasons.
The Eye's Controversial New Columnist: An angry baby, who gives the important baby's eye view of current events (usually that the people involved are acting like, well, babies).
Dame Sylvie Krin: a saccharine-impregnated royal correspondent and author of fawning biographies and bad fiction about the royal family and other celebrities. Her "stories" usually feature a Purple Prose-esque, fawning and overly romantic description of celebrities going about their business exactly as they do in real life:
A story about Prince Charles: "Is mater abdicating?", thought Charles, displaying his renowned sensitivity.
A story about Rupert Murdoch: "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING YOU LITTLE WOMBAT'S DONG?," said Rupert sagely.
Sometimes the adjective "Ugandan" is used to denote eroticism - "Ugandan advances" etc. Though sometimes mistaken for a racist slur, it actually comes from an obscure scandal where an Irish journalist and an exiled Ugandan politician claimed to have been "discussing Uganda" when they had more or less been caught with their pants down at a posh journalistic house party in London.
"The reply given in the case of Arkell vs. Pressdram" = "Fuck off" (for details, see Sophisticated as Hell.)
"Carter-Fuck" = Carter-Ruck and Partners, legal firm with whom Private Eye have crossed swords many times. (And once, when the firm complained, they changed it to "Farter-Fuck").
"Crapita" = Capita, a large out-sourcing company known for cocking up Government contracts for things like building schools and running IT systems
"Inspector Knacker" = the Police, especially the Metropolitan Police (a.k.a. Scotland Yard, as in "Knacker of the Yard — geddit?)
Pretty much every British newspaper has a well-known nickname that was given to them by the Eye. A lot of politicians and celebrities have also been given nicknames, usually derisive.
Baillie Vass = former Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home (after the Aberdeen Evening Expressnote NotThe Scotsman, as commonly reported mixed up the captions for a photo of him with a photo of the titular castle)
It's all right not to have heard of him- he was only in office a year.
They revived the joke when Douglas-Home's nephew Charles became Editor of The Times in 1982, calling him "Charles Vass", and probably expected to continue with that joke for many years (after all, most of his predecessors had lasted at least a decade); however, Charles died young in 1985.
Tony Blair was "The Dear Leader" (the title used by Kim Jong-il of North Korea) due to accusations of a messiah complex.
Although in his later years he was referred to as "the Vicar" due to a perceived similarity to trendy clergymen. He passed on the "Dear Leader" title to Gordon Brown.
Broadcaster and journalist Andrew Neil is always referred to as Andrew Neill, purely because this irritates him.
South African president Jacob Zuma has been referred to as Shagga Zulu ever since his trial for rape (and subsequent claim that showering reduces the risk of HIV transmission. It really, really, really doesn't).
This one was particularly low-hanging fruit, as Zuma really is Zulu. Even if he hadn't been tried for rape, the man has four wives—two of whom he married while in office—and 20 children. From there the joke is obvious.
Infamous London libel firm Carter-Ruck and Partners is always referred to "Carter-Fuck", except when it is referred to as "Farter-Fuck".
The Independent newspaper is the "Indescribablyboring"
The Daily Mail is occasionally referred to as the Daily Dacre (after its editor), the Daily Fail, or the Daily Hitler.
The Evening Standard is called "The Evening Boris" for its support of the current Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.
CDC is referred to as "seedy C"
Wendi Deng is referred to as Wendi Dung.
Robert Maxwell was nicknamed "Cap'n Bob". This fell out of use when the magazine discovered the even better nickname (originally coined by Harold Wilson, no less) of "the bouncing Czech." Nowadays, he is almost never referred to without some mention of his criminal activity during his lifetime. This is because he sued Private Eye in libel for exposing it, won, and took £220,000 off them. His death and the subsequent revelations mean that the magazine is Vindicated by History and free to call the criminal Robert Maxwell, a thief and a criminal, a thieving criminal.
Mary Ann Sieghart is often called Mary Ann Bighead, due to a perceived use of her columns to boast about her lifestyle.
Max Hastings is always referred to as Hitler Hastings due to his obsession with the war. Either that or "The World's Worst Columnist."
Former Telegraph editor William Rees-Mogg is often called "Mystic Mogg" because of his tendency to make awfully bad predictions about the outcomes of elections. (Mitt Romney was to be President in 2008, Gordon Brown was to win the UK election in 2010, and Rick Santorum was his prediction for the US 2012 election.)
Ancient former Telegraph editor Bill Deedes is referred to as Bill Deedesh, mocking both his (very) advanced age and his fondness for the amber flow. A Running Gag on their part is that, whenever the magazine draws a historical parallel to modern events, the ancient newspaper (for instance, the Bethlehem Times) will be edited by Deedesh.
Piers Morgan is "Piers Moron", sometimes phrased as "Piers 'Morgan' Moron" as though Moron is his real name and Morgan the nickname.
Rupert Murdoch is "The Dirty Digger" (Digger = Australian) and Richard Desmond is "Dirty Des", both referencing their more unsavoury connections.
Notoriously terrible PFInote Private Finance Initiative, a scheme launched by Labour under Tony Blair by which some government functions such as building schools were outsourced to private companies company Capita are inevitably referred to as "Crapita".
Richard Branson is referred to as Beardie.
The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, (DEFRA) is referred to as "Department for the Elimination of Farming and Rural Affairs". Its acronym is sometimes modified to DEFRO.
Margaret Beckett is referred to as Rosa Klebb for her disastrous tenure at the above and her complete lack of interest in the environment, food, or rural affairs.
The late Sir James Goldsmith, a frequent and vindictive litigant, was usually "Sir Jammy Fishpaste" and other similar names, such as "St. Jammy Fishfingers". The magazine considers some aspect of his activities to be objectionable. Similarly, his appearances sometimes end with him having to go and phone "John in Kenya", a reference to John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan (AKA Lord Lucan), who the Eye semi-seriously accused him of helping escape there after he killed his children's nanny.
The Financial Services Authority is invariably referred to as "The Fundamentally Supine Authority" in reference to its reluctance to act and its seemingly close relationship with the industry it is supposed to regulate, often contrasting its performance with the swift and draconian methods of its United States counterparts.
The Maily Telegraph" is a composite of The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mail. Similarly, "The Stun" is a generic red top tabloid newspaper, like "The Sun" and "The Daily Star".
HM The Queen is referred to as Brenda. Prince Charles is Brian.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is usually referred as "DafT".
The Department of Trade and Industry was often the "Department of Timidity and Inaction".
Transportation company FirstGroupnote They operate a lot of fairly barebones intercity bus services around the world—including Greyhound—as well as operating some train and tram services in Britain under contract is referred to as "Worst Group".
There are also features on the hypocrisy of the Fleet Street press ("Street of Shame") and a great section called "Rotten Boroughs" on local council misbehaviour, along with annual awards — such as for Tory bigots.
Anachronism Stew: Always Played for Laughs in many Retraux-style parodies. For example, current events will often be covered in a Victorian or mediaeval style, sometimes with reasonable contemporary equivalents (like the Sudoku craze being mirrored by the crossword craze in the nineteenth century) but sometimes just incongruously using modern technologies or values in the past. And there will always be Identical Grandson-type ancestors of current celebrities and politicians.
One common variant, which is being scaled back since his death, was to have the ancient Bill Deedes, editor of the Daily Telegraph, be the editor of the various historical publications, such as the Daily Chain Mail, or the "first ever issue" of Haaretz (which is usually one portraying the birth of Christ").
Arch-Enemy: At varying times this role has been filled by James Goldsmith, Robert Maxwell, Jeffrey Archer, Rupert Murdoch, Piers Morgan and Mohammed Al Fayed among others. Of these, Maxwell and Archer are the most infamous. Hislop mentions that Maxwell and Archer were the longest-term enemies; Archer was the longest, whilst Maxwell was the biggest, with his numerous libel writs. It took the Eye 40 years before Jeffrey was put away. Hislop mentions Jeffrey as being their most satisfying scalp; Maxwell's trickery was only exposed after he died whilst Jeffrey, who, to Hislop, embodied the "vice, folly, and humbug" of the modern politician, could know he was beaten from his prison cell:
Arc Number: 94. This derives from a common gag where a long run-on list or article will end in "cont. page 94", the joke being that the Eye is obviously nowhere near thick enough to actually have a page 94. While this joke is still used straight, the number has become iconic and representative of the Eye itself, so is now found in other context—any parody of a topical media that involves numbers will use it (e.g. The Number 23 is parodied as The Number 94).
Asian Speekee Engrish: Evely singre time Wendi "Deng" Dung, rife of Austrarian newpape tycoon Lupert Muldoch is poltlayed in de megezene.
Bavarian Fire Drill: Private Eye's owner and longtime editor Peter Cook was a master of this trope. His finest hour was leading a raid on the Mirror offices at a time when Maxwell had tried to force the magazine off the newsstands (and succeeded with WH Smith, a large British newsagents chain). He and some cohorts, including current editor Ian Hislop, convinced the doorman and security at the Mirror offices that they were there to see Robert Maxwell. They used this to vandalize Maxwell's office, steal the master copy of a planned spoof Not Private Eye smear-job piece Maxwell had been producing (they had previously sent the journalists involved with the project a case of whisky, with predictable results), order a champagne lunch to be delivered at Maxwell's expense, and, finally, very drunk, phoning Maxwell personally in New York and saying "guess where we are".
British Rockstar: Gary Bloke of the Celeb strip, and Spiggy Topes (later "Sir Spigismond Topes") of Spiggy Topes and the Turds. The latter is unusual in that the joke started contemporaneously with The British Invasion and has continued in real-time, with his career paralleling that of Real Life musicians. This also makes Spiggy Topes a Composite Character, as he is basically used as a stand-in for any has-been rock star who's been in the news, from Paul McCartney to Rod Stewart and more.
Following the Pædo Hunt in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal, in which several musicians from The Seventies were implicated, the Eye has also introduced the character of "Dave Rock", a seventies British Rockstar who always seems to have a connection with the latest musician to be arrested and accidentally reveals his own paedophilic or non-consensual sexual offenses.
Bulungi: The fictional African country of "Rumbabwe, formerly British Rumbabaland".
The Christmas Annual: Which collects the best and least date-specific of the year's comedy material.
Driver of a Black Cab: The "A Cab Driver Writes" segment, which portray any recent celebrity or politician who's said something intolerant as such a cabbie. Occasional variations appear, e.g. Islamic extremists being portrayed as "A Camel Driver Writes".
Fauxlosophic Narration: The subject of the "Pseuds Corner" column which gathers up uses of such phrases in the arts (and latterly the corporate world).
Insistent Terminology: Referring to Alec Douglas-Home as "Baillie Vass" and Andrew Neil as Andrew Neill with two Ls (apparently purely because it annoys him). Mohammed Al Fayed is always referred to simply as Mohammed Fayed, on the grounds that he added the 'al' himself. Piers Morgan is always referred to as Piers Moron, though recently the "Moron" title has passed to Dominic Mohan, editor of The Sun.
In The Style Of: Much of the humour in the second half is based on this, such as the "Book of (Insert Current Israeli Leader Here)" bits which present contemporary Middle East events in the style of the King James Bible.
-The Book of Net-An-Yahoo: And Barack, son of Obama, may not looketh so kindly upon our smiting as did Dubya, that is called the Burning Bush.
Inversion: A very common joke format in the second half of the Eye. For example, if the Conservative Party has a debate over whether they support gay couples adopting children, the Eye will report it as gay couples having a debate over whether they support adopting the Conservative Party. A historian saying that the Battle of Britain was won by the Royal Navy not the RAF is reported by the Eye saying the Battle of Trafalgar was won by the RAF (somehow) rather than the Royal Navy. And so on.
Is The Answer To This Question Yes: When a newspaper leads with a story about a study that has proved something that was obvious to begin with (e.g. students enjoy drinking), the Eye does a segment with the same headline followed by additional stories like 'Pope admits he may have Catholic tendencies' and 'Bear accused of woodland defecation'.
A related joke is reporting banal celebrity or royal news in a generic way stripped of all names to show how Captain Obvious it is, such as reporting on Prince Harry having a scandal as "Nineteen year old boy goes out, gets drunk, does ill-advised things; nation stunned".
I Thought It Meant: A common theme for cartoons, such as a 'wet T-shirt contest' that consists of a group of judges at a fete judging which T-shirt on a clothesline is the wettest.
Long List: Usually subverted, with a ten-point (or more) list being promised but it petering out around point 6 with "Er...That's it."
Mood-Swinger: Glenda Slagg, a parody of female columnists like Lynda Lee-Potter who swing between gushingly effusive and poisonously biting opinions of the same celebrity between columns—Glenda is an exaggeration, switching from one pole to the other in alternating paragraphs.
New Media Are Evil: The Eye is usually at least somewhat guilty of this, although it changes over time. On the other hand, they are also fond of mocking newspapers' (especially the Guardian and the Telegraph) belief that they can get bloggers to do their jobs for them for free by encouraging them to "Join the debate!"
Old Shame: For years, Private Eye campaigned against the MMR vaccine based on Dr. Andrew Wakefield's word that it caused autism, at one point running a 33-page "special report" supporting his claims. After it was discovered that Wakefield's claims were part of a hoax, the paper printed a column in which they admitted they "got it wrong."
Only Known by Their Nickname: Sometimes people or institutions are only ever referred to by their nickname, which can create a Continuity Lockout for new readers. More commonly though the real name is used at the beginning before shifting to the nickname for the rest of the segment.
Overprotective Dad: Taken to ridiculous extremes by "Family_man", one of the commenters in From The Messageboards, whose catchphrase is "Any of these (subject of news) come near my girls and I swear I'll do time".
People's Republic of Tyranny: The "Prime Ministerial Decrees" spoof of Gordon Brown had him constantly spouting Communist jargon adapted to the here and now, such as referring to David Cameron's politics as "neo-Bullingdonite-Etonist deviationist backsliding". Also sometimes appears in the Dave Spart segments.
Really 700 Years Old / Time Abyss: Jokes of this type were constantly made about ancient journalists Bill Deedes and Alistair Cooke prior to their deaths (and Deedes jokes still occasionally show up).
Romance Novel: The "Dame Sylvie Krin" segments are parodies of this, with subjects such as Prince Charles and Camilla or Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng.
Reader: I read with great interest the details of Mr Clinton's peccadilloes in the press. Does the Eye have any photographs that could illustrate a relationship between an older man in a position of power and influence and a younger, attractive woman?
Sexual encounters will always be referred to as Ugandan Discussions, or simply Ugandan. This is because of an incident at a party hosted by journalist Neal Ascherson and his first wife, at which fellow journalist Mary Kenny had a "meaningful confrontation" with a former cabinet minister in the government of Milton Obote, later claiming that they were "upstairs discussing Uganda".
Any illegal drug that can be smoked will be referred to as an Exotic Cheroot.
Tired and emotional = Drunk.
Trebles all round is a phrase used when someone has made money with no effort, frequently applied to lawyers. If the phrase concerns a foreign "junket", then it will be given a regional spin, for instance, a Cabinet minister's...holiday...in China was announced with "treble mao-tai's all round." (By the way, drinking a treble maotai is a silly thing to do—even CPC officials down them one at a time, with plenty of chaser.)
Neasden, a suburb of London, is portrayed as a bizarre Place Worse Than Death indicating everything that is most dull and boring about modern British urban life.
Messages from the editor, either saying that the journalist in question is fired or slurring considerably, representing his speech following the famous Fleet Street "liquid lunch".
Ena is a forename used frequently by the magazine. Usually with the middle initial "B." It is generally used to indicate a person's mother or wife, as in Ena B. Clinton.
A recent one is Prince Charles in his bath overhearing half a story on the radio and jumping out in excitement because he's mistook it for news that the Queen is abdicating - due to the fact that several other monarchs and a Pope did indeed abdicate over the course of several weeks.
Troll: The contributors to the magazine's "from the message boards" feature. More generally, the magazine itself. Hislop admits to doing a lot of their running gags purely because they annoy the people on the receiving end. To whit:
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger is referred to as "Alan Rubbisher", because this is apparently a nickname some Guardian staff have for him, which he hates.
Piers Morgan is referred to as Piers Moron again because it annoys him.
Former BBC 1 controller Alan Yentob is referred to as Alan Botney (Yentob spelled backwards), and the magazine has a long-running fake-conspiracy theory that he changed his name from the prosaic Botney in order to appear Jewish and sophisticated.
The infamous picture of Andrew Neil cuddling Pamella Bordes is reprinted for this reason. The magazine also started spelling his surname with two Ls, either because Pamella Bordes spells her name this way or because he mentioned in an interview that people misspelling his surname annoys him.
The magazine used to print Robert Maxwell's home address and encourage readers to contact him. Maxwell was also referred to as Cap'n Bob and, later, "The Bouncing Czech" (a name coined by none other than Harold Wilson). In fact, any mention of Maxwell; even if he hadn't been a crook, his utter hatred towards the magazine made mocking him a worthwhile end in itself.
During court cases, Peter Cook used to sit in the public gallery and wave his chequebook at Robert Maxwell, to let him know he couldn't kill Private Eye.
Single-Issue Wonk: Several newspapers are presented as being unhealthily obsessed with one or two issues, such as Diana's death (the Daily Express), house prices and things giving you cancer (the Daily Mail) and Liz Hurley and 'fruity girls' in general (the Daily Telegraph).
For a while, Private Eye itself was a Single-Issue Wonk on the idea that the MMR vaccine was to blame for a spike in U.K. autism rates, at one point running a 32-page "special report" that was denounced as dangerous scaremongering by the mainstream scientific community. After the MMR-autism link was exposed as a hoax, Eye columnist Phil Hammond admitted that the paper "got it wrong" and inappropriately stuck with the story even after conflicting factors had emerged.
A now vanishedRunning Gag involved a discussion being sidetracked at the first mention of The Sizzler, an exorbitantly expensive breakfast available on long train journeys, with the article wandering off into singing The Sizzler`s praises.
The "From the Messageboards" column is set in a fictional internet forum made up almost entirely of trolls of this type.
Some of the more amusing ones are "justice_4_maddie" and "rot_in_hell_myra", two usernames obsessed with murderers. "Edgar" is a leftist conspiracy theorist unaware that his costume (a "giant finger" representing the wagging finger of the nanny state) looks like a penis. "Aethelstan" is a "true Englishman with a thousand years of Angelfolc blood" who hates the "mongrel British". "Bogbrush" is a naive but well-meaning soul who usually ends a thread with "great stuff guys" and is often physically injured by others, and there are several right wing psychos with elaborate Punny Names, such as the irrepressible "Last_Taxpayer_Standing_in_Harrietharmanistan_in_the_E.U.S.S.R"
Technology Marches On: The Eye used to be known for publishing extracts from newspapers where the type had been set wrong, often producing a hilarious or bizarre juxtaposition. Now that newspapers are written electronically, this doesn't happen so much anymore; the modern equivalent, usually less funny, is when newspaper journalists put in filler text for a caption and forget to replace it with the real caption.
Having a Gay Old Time: These mistakes (together with Accidental Innuendo examples) used to be collectively known as 'boobs' and, amusingly, a compilation was published called Private Eye's Bumper Book of Boobs.
Unusual Euphemism: Has added several to the language, mostly deriving from weedy excuses or alibis given by politicians embroiled in scandals:
"Discussing Uganda" / "Ugandan discussions" = having sex
"Tired and emotional" = drunk
"Exotic cheroot" = cannabis
The Vicar: Tony Blair was presented as one in the 'Vicar of St Albion's' parody, inspired by a comparison that had been made by many in the media who had compared his style when making speeches to that of a trendy Anglican vicar giving a sermon. (Hilarious in Hindsight, now that Blair is a Catholic.)
What Could Have Been: Parodied with the "First Drafts" cartoon series, which features famous authors either in the process of inventing their distinctive style or trying to write before having discovered it (such as Philip Roth starting a book with "I'm Jewish; I don't see much mileage in that, so, moving on...")
Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: In the "Book of (Insert Current Israeli Leader Here)" segments and sometimes some of the Retraux newspaper segments which compare current events to historical ones.
(That's enough Tropes. Ed)However, the truly unparalleled touch of genius about Private Eye is widely thought to be its famous (cont. p.94).