Saturday, 26 November 2011

Private Eye: The First 50 Years review

Where: Victoria & Albert Museum, South Kensington
Verdict: Go see it

What is it? The British satirical magazine has been going strong for 50 years now, so we have an exhibition to mark the highlights to date.

Verdict: Private Eye has the ability to make you laugh with some of their surreal humour that is reminiscent of the 'Far Side' comic strip. For example, the penguin and a woman sitting at a breakfast table with their child flying around the room – with the penguin saying 'well, he doesn't get it from my side of the family'. Or a man coming out of a 'we print anything on a t-shirt' shop with a t-shirt with the word 'anything' on it.

It also enjoys making fun of politics and the British way of life. Such as a man looking at an MC Escher styled house and remarking that it will need disabled access. Another speciality is in making fun of political figures, such as Mugabe, below.

However it really comes into its own when taking on the controversial subjects that the rest of the media daren't take on. The priest seeing a group of choirboys and remarking that 'it's like everyone I've ever slept with is here' and the Muslim cleric handing a grenade to a young boy and saying 'I'd love to join you in heaven but I'm needed down here on earth'. The publication has a history of accruing lawsuits and this exhibit highlights how they love to stoke the fires until they've taken it one step too far – sometimes it's what we're all thinking but wouldn't say in public. 50 years of doing this and they've outlasted all their comparators like Spitting Image and even Eminem – same social commentary, if a different medium and a chasm of difference in the subtlety of delivery.

This exhibit is guaranteed to make you laugh and well worth a visit.

Dates: 18 October 2011 – 8 January 2012.

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