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YMMV: Have I Got News for You
  • Acceptable Targets: During the show's long run, many.
    • The Liberal Democrats, and before them the Social Democratic Party; anyone voting for them was treated as drunk or mad.
    Alexander Armstrong: There's no time for the proposed 10% increase in cider prices, so great news for people in The West Country, who are free to resume to local tradition of getting so smashed out of their skulls they end up voting Lib Dem.
    • The Daily Mail is an easy target, owing to their highly prestigious take on things, to say nothing of their rather cruel articles. Mentioning that you like or work for the Mail is a very easy way to become The Scrappy for the rest of the panel, most of the time.
    • Along with the show's usual targets like Jeffrey Archer or John Prescott, at least earlier on.
    • Eric Pickles seemed to have been the generally agreed-upon joke fodder for season 40, Prescott now being elevated to the House of Lords and no longer on the Labour front bench, and Pickles being in government and being even more rotund than Prescott at his peak.
    • Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were targets throughout their run for the White House in 2012, to the point that even the leader of UKIP (itself a target as lampshaded by Nigel Farage) was able to get in a joke at them.
    • To stop a flood of potential entries for this moment, as long as you are not horribly disabled/have had some seriously extreme accidents or misfortune and have not been a major douche about it, you are this. And even then, depending on the contestants...
      • Even if you are dead, this trope is very much in effect, as shown for Robert Maxwell and Margaret Thatcher, and Saddam Hussein.
  • Archive Panic: As of 2012, 44 series have been made, most of which have not been put out on DVD.
  • Base Breaker:
    • Angus Deayton. Depending on your viewpoint, he was a good part of the show or it got better after he left.
    • Godfrey Bloom falls into this territory to an extent owing to his politically incorrect views. He's either funny in a Crosses the Line Twice, ridiculously outdated, So Bad, It's Good kind of way, or he was horribly unfunny and should never have been on the show.
    • Janet Street-Porter fell into this initially, although with every appearance she makes she slides further into scrappy territory. On the one hand, she makes quite funny comments. On the other hand, she keeps targeting people who either cannot defend themselves (such as the poor sod who had a small penis and tried having sex with her) or are in trouble for things that she has done, such as Richard Bacon's stories getting in the tabloids.
    • Gyles Brandreth. Is he funny in the sense of being slightly bumbling and rather self-deprecating, or does he talk far too much and not give anyone else the chance to? His appearance in the Autumn 2013 series really highlights this, with evidence for both.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • Paul's fantasy of him skipping through a field with Ian during an Odd One Out in Series 19. He said that in hindsight, it opened the floodgates to more of thesenote .
    • The line of can-can dancers that cross the set after Angus assures the audience that crossing to BBC 1 won't change the show.
    • In the same vein, Angus reads out a complaint that the humour on the show is too clever, followed by an undercranked The Benny Hill Show-style moment where all the contestants chase a woman in a sexy nurse's outfit across the set.
  • Complaining about Shows You Don't Watch: Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood once sent a letter to Hislop asking HIGNFY for an apology over some controversial jokes made in the previous week's show. The first line of the letter (which Hislop read to the audience) was "Although I did not see the programme in question..."
  • Crosses the Line Twice:
    • Some of the Margaret Thatcher jokes may come across this way, given her death and the fact that so many were made only a matter of days after she died. They're in poor taste, but arguably funnier because of that.
    • At one point, Alexander Armstrong discusses a party he ended up at where people such as Tony Blair were present, which caues Ian to snark "well, that cleaned it up". He follows this up asking whether certain people such as Harold Shipman (a real life Deadly Doctor and Serial Killer) or Jimmy Saville (now a known paedophile) livened it up with entertainment such as karaoke.
    • A few of the "jokes" made about Max Clifford in Series 47, if you find that stuff funny.
  • Dude, Not Funny!:
    • One episode featured an Odd One Out round in which Mother Theresa was surrounded by various dictators. Angus Deayton mockingly referred to Mother Theresa as winner of "the all-Calcutta shrivelled-walnut-lookalike competition". Ian Hislop called him out on this.
    Ian: Obviously the best target. Milton Friedman, Saddam Hussein... yeah, let's get Mother Theresa! Shrivelled old walnut — what's she ever done?
    • A series 40 episode had the panel (led by Jimmy Carr) decline to do a round called "Spot the Chinaman."
    • Paul has a minor Running Gag of calling the audience out whenever they react to a Black Comedy joke by starting out with a Dude, Not Funny! groan but then it turns into laughter and applause.
    • As a rule, the commentary for the first DVD shows Ian and Paul both reacting in disgust to a child being hit in the face by an acrobat's kick (which was accidental).
    • A Cornish MP objected to a joke made by Andy Hamilton ("Why was there confusion in Truro?" "Isn't there always, they're Cornish") in the William Shatner-hosted episode.
    • The first episode of Series 44 had an entire round about Jimmy Savile (which centred on the sex assault charges) and very few jokes were made, due to the general awkwardness of the situation. The next round was about Abu Hazsa, a preacher of fundamentalism and terrorism, when Graham Linehan said he didn't really enjoy making jokes about the man due to who he is, Ian Hislop said that compared to the last round he was comedy gold.
    • A minor one that's nowhere near the Savile levels, but still pretty bad. Janet Street-Porter chose to out some unfortunate sod who had a "mushroom in his pants". Of all the things to talk about, it just comes across as immature, something that nobody really wanted to know and above all petty, not to mention the unfortunate sod cannot defend himself.
    • A few people may not find the Series 47 "jokes" about Max Clifford funny, given how he's been revealed as a rapist. Granted, they weren't really treated as jokes by anyone in the studio, including the panel.
      Jack Dee: (in response to Bridget Christie saying she didn't know any jokes that were suitable) That's rapists for you.
  • Fan Nickname: Episode six of series twenty-three is known as, by everybody, the "Angus Deayton Scandal Episode". Episode two of series twenty-four is known as, by a lot of the core fandom, "Angus' goodbye", or some variation.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • In S11E02, the panel cracked jokes about Princess Di observing a heart operation:
    Ian: It's a bit ghoulish, isn't it? You wonder what Diana's going to do next. Road accidents? "Let me through, I'm the Princess of Wales!"
    • Made even worse by the fact that Dermot Morgan, who died of a heart attack, was on Ian's team that week.
    • Also in S10E01, Ian mocks Paula Yates for complaining about the media while courting it:
    Ian: It's terrible, bloody media intrusion. Look the camera's here, Paula! (Points at the camera)
    • This clip from S32E04, in which Ross Noble jokes about Jimmy Savile chasing terrified athletes, while demanding "a bit of hows-your-father" (sex). Pretty funny at the time, but after September 2012 when revelations of Savile's Sex abuse of underage girls became public, this turned very, very dark.... yet still pretty funny.
    • An earlier and less amusing example came in 1999 when Savile himself appeared on the show and made an offhand joke about being "Feared in every girls school in the country" in reference to his failure as a wrestler. Given many of the sex abuse accusations stemmed from his visits to girls schools, this becomes far, far more sinister.
      • This was only compounded by him joking about doing "anyone he could get his hands on" while living in his caravan, when this was exactly what he has been accused of doing to underaged schoolgirls.
      • Another disturbing and meta example was a hoax transcript made in 1999 brought up in the same episode purporting to be the record of some unsettlingly angry outtakes where Paul Merton furiously accuses Savile of paedophillia, raping children in his caravan, and intimidating them to stay quiet. At the time it was pretty much nothing but a distasteful joke, but now each one of these charges has been pretty much confirmed it has become far more disturbing.
    • Not in the same league as the above examples, but every time Paul needles Angus, it's quite clear in hindsight that he wasn't kidding, even though the audience laughs when he does it.
    • Some of the older jokes about Max Clifford are less funny to some, since Clifford was convicted of paedophilia in 2014.
    • Also in 2014, Rolf Harris was convicted of paedophilia, making his appearance considerably less funny.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The Norwegian adaptation of this this show, titled Nytt P Nytt has consistently been Norways's most popular TV show for several years.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The joke about Iain and Duncan Smith being identical twins running a political party got even more amusing when that actually happened in Poland — they became President and Prime Minister. (And now a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment now that one of those twins was the highest-profile casualty of the 2010 Polish plane crash).
    • The running gag about Angus shagging Merton's wife Caroline after Angus was reported to have paid a Caroline Martin (Paul's real last name) for sex.
    • A lot of jokes about sex/drugs made to or by Deayton while he was host take on a different tenor watching them now.
    • Countless jokes over the years about the Lib Dems never being able to get into power, when they finally managed it in 2010 (as part of a coalition government).
    • Inversion (but not really Harsher in Hindsight) — in one episode Deayton criticised the BBC leadership, then added "and tune in next week to see this programme on its new home at 4 AM on BBC3". Quite funny now, but much funnier back then as there was no BBC3.
    • Hardly hilarious, but as she was an old woman... during the 2008 U.S. presidential race, Frank Skinner speculated about what would happen if Barack Obama's grandmother died the day before the election.
    • In the second ever episode (broadcast in 1990), the What Happened Next round has footage of Joe Biden, and Deayton points out that "of course, what happened next for him was that his career came to nothing, nobody voted for him and he never achieved high office".
    • In Series 16 episode 3, after Angus has read out a "fascinating fact" about Sean Connery that was found uninteresting, Paul remarks, "I don't know where we'd be without you, Angus. BBC1, perhaps?" Angus lasted less than 2 years on the show once it moved to BBC One.
    • The show reporting that a disgruntled DLA employee had doctored Tony Blair's driving licence, changing his name to "Saddam Hussein AKA Twatface". This coming years before Blair led the war that resulted in Hussein's execution.
    • When Ian was having yet another pop at Mandelson and Alastair Campbell, Paul immediately said they were next week's hosts. Campbell did indeed play guest host... in June 2012.
  • Ho Yay: Played once for laughs, between Ian and Paul:
    Ian: I'm glad you didn't shave, Paul.
    Paul: Why?
    Ian: (laughs)
    Paul: Do you like me like this?
    Paul: (pulls down collar of shirt, reveals shoulder) Fancy a bit?
    • And Paul, on seeing a picture of Ian:
    Paul: I'd be happy to be kissed by him. I think he's gorgeous. ...Who is it?
    • Then, of course, there was the episode in which they planned their civil partnership...
    • In S43E08, Ross Noble gleefully suggested arch enemies Ian and Alastair Campbell have this, after they had spend the first ten minutes of the episode snarling at each other:
    Ross: I get the feeling that, at any moment, you two are going to kiss.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Angus very briefly became this when Christine Hamilton brought up his controversial private life.
  • Never Live It Down: If you're a guest that has done something wrong, such as "accidentally" announcing a General Election early, or claiming quite a bit on expenses, then Ian will call you out on it. No exceptions.
    • If you're the host, everyone will take the piss to varying degrees.
    • Angus and his scandal - this was the reason he had to be let go. After his scandal it became near impossible for him to skewer the guests or people in the news as anybody who felt defensive would say that he wasn't one to talk, given what he had done. There are a number of examples of this in the episodes after the scandal and before his departure.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • Alastair Campbell's appearance on this show (where he was one of the few political contestants to stand up to Ian's mocking, and played the bagpipes) is widely regarded as one of the best guests ever, and endeared him to a lot of people who otherwise despised him.
    • Sadiq Khan MP is an odd example. His appearance on the show was generally regarded as subpar (and not in a So Bad, It's Horrible way, just simply boring). However, he did gain some lost approval back by donating his programme fee to charity.
  • The Scrappy: Many, owing to the long history of the show. While unfunny guests are high in number, also owing to the long run of the show, some really take the cake. Most of the following examples are guests who are simply too eager to laugh at themselves or don't understand they're on a comedy and not a serious political programmes.
    • Piers Morgan is not popular for his appearance in Season 11, Episode 6. In it, he admitted to sending photographers round to the houses of people he disliked and then demanding his privacy. Stealing jokes from previous guests did him no favours, either. The segment, in spite of this, is considered one of the funniest owing to the verbal smackdown he got from other guests.
    • Louise Mensch, ne Bagshawe, did not prove popular during her two appearances. In the former she simply isn't funny. In her second appearance, she rants against the Occupy movement as being largely comprised of hypocrites owing to Insane Troll Logic note . This made her the topic of an epic rant, mostly from Paul and Danny Baker.
    • David Shayler, especially as far as Paul Merton is concerned, who felt that his appearance via a satellite feed didn't work as it made it difficult to maintain 'comic timing'.
    • The public did not react well to Rachel Johnson, as she basically tried plugging her book throughout the entire show (for the record, Roger Moore did this twice as part of the scripted joke and it went down well), didn't get the joke several times, made several Incredibly Lame Puns and defended the Daily Mail. Paul and Marcus Brigstocke didn't have time for her, and even Roger Moore seemed rather pissed off on several occasions. Then there was her getting at Ian for being a member of the Church of England and seeming to think that it meant that he was wrong on everything that related to the story on women bishops in the Church of England. The subject might have been controversial, but by the time she brought up Ian being a Anglican for the third time it started to look like a bigoted attack on Ian's beliefs.
    • Robert Kilroy-Silk. The reason he'd been in the news alone (writing an article entitled "We Owe Arabs Nothing"- which got him fired from the paper he was on) had put a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths, but then he started interrupting a lot of people and being generally rude to the panel, including Paul who was on his team. This caused Paul to lose his cool and somehow combine Precision F-Strike and Cluster F-Bomb at him while telling him to shut up (in the unedited version at least, in the censored versions he just shouted at him), then called him out on his hypocritical policies. They did relent just a little when he mentioned he'd campaigned to remove war widows pension from income tax, but then immediately resumed with the bashing.
    • In terms of guest host scrappies, Liza Tarbuck was deemed to be such a poor guest host that she was the only one to be left out of a Best of the Guest Hosts compilation entirely. Her appearances as a guest aren't so bad, but her hosting...
    • To quite a few people, Godfrey Bloom, although see Base Breaker.
  • So Bad, It's Good:
    • Bad guests usually fall into this, as the other panel will mock them. For instance, David Shayler, Swampy, Robert Kilroy-Silk, and Piers Morgan are some of the most hated guests ever, but their appearances are still entertaining because of the other panellists' reactions to them. Utterly dreadful guests are few and far between, and only the apocalyptically bad are capable of muzzling the comic potential of the other pannelists. Examples of such awfulness are Lisa Tarbuck and Neil Kinnock.
    • Some of the guest hosts are this, especially Boris Johnson and Brian Blessed. Easily flustered and/or unable to read the scripted material from the autocue convincingly, and yet never anything less than hugely entertaining to watch.
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • When Chris Addison derided Julia Hartley-Brewer for criticising Gordon Brown's reluctance to leave Number 10, after having derided her profession - professional journalism - throughout the entire show, Ian came to her defence:
    Ian: Threatening to leave your party in six months time and saying "I will sort out the deal" is not constitutional, that is an attempt to cling onto power, that is Mr. Barnacle doing what he does. It's no good saying "I happen to hate journalists because they're critical of this particular thing, that's just cobblers...
    Chris: (finally getting a word in) I hate journalists, full stop!
    Julia: He was very nice to me in dressing room...
    • A double example of Strawman Has a Point in the above, in fact, as most constitutional specialists consider Brown to have acted with the utmost constitutional propriety in the aftermath of the 2010 general election.
    • Then there was this highly insightful take on the Occupy London movement.
  • Unacceptable Targets:
    • Discussed on the show a few times when a Ridiculously Cute Critter is shown and cause the audience to go "aww". Ian immediately calls the audience out on one occasion, for laughing when a human being dies horribly but for defending the animals.
    • Someone who is horribly disabled or has had serious misfortune is likely to be one of the few humans to not be made fun of on the show.
    • One of the few cases where you can't make a joke about a group is in the case of paeodophilia victims, as Jimmy Saville and Max Clifford have proved. Time will tell if this extends to Rolf Harris as well.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: Inverted with Swampy—when the viewers voted for their least favourite guests on The Official Pirate Video, Ian and Paul seemed surprised and upset he was on the list.
  • Vindicated by History: While the guest host format has held up well, Angus' scandal doesn't seem so bad now, and some people online do say that when the show eventually ends, Angus should be the one to host the final episode.

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