Skip to content

An Interview with Tony Hendra (Part Three)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2016/12/15


An interview with Tony Hendra. He discusses: the political stances of the comedy world; Donald Wildman and ministerial values as Right values; and restrictions on free speech from the Left.

Keywords: Actor, Satirist, Tony Hendra, Writer.

An Interview with Tony Hendra: Actor, Satirist, and Writer (Part Three)[1],[2]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, &bibliography & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been mildly edited for clarity and readability.*

9. One thing, in general, is the political Left, or left in political stance or persuasion, in the comedy world. Things like anarchism. Things that tend to ‘care more about people’ in George Carlin’s words. 


There are considerations about ‘people over property’ (Carlin). There are considerations about power and power relations, and ways to take down power. So if anything is, or claims to be, a source of power, then ask it for justification. If it cannot justify itself, then dismantle it. One methodology, mentioned before, is making fun of it, or comedy. I noticed in the examples discussed before: Lenny Bruce. Or Leonard Bruce since I never met him.


George Carlin (as well as Richard Pryor, for some), it depends on the individual who is more prominent for them. It does seem to be one thing that is more prominent. Does that seem to reflect longer term experience and larger knowledge base than me with respect to the comedy world and its political stances?

I mean, let me speak on behalf of my group and history, at the Lampoon, we were just as satirical about the Left and the movement, and associated phenomena like rock music and drug use and all kinds of stuff – just as rough on that as we were on Nixon and the political structure. In that sense, we were observing a kind of fairness doctrine.

But then, I suppose one of the reasons a lot of satire comes from the Left is simply because of that perceived split between a concern for people versus a concern for private property. The concern for private property almost essentially demands that you wield power to protect it.

So, I think that’s probably why you end up with those in power being in the crosshairs of satirists. But that said, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the satirist himself or herself is necessarily one way or the other. I mean, I like to say that I don’t believe in organized religion and I don’t believe in organized politics. I think George would have probably said the same thing if he would have thought of it.

It is just the way things are, but Evelyn Waugh was a very Right-wing person and a great admirer of the aristocracy and the aristocratic past of England, which he wanted to enjoy – even as it was slipping through his finger by the moment. Voltaire was certainly very hard on the Jesuits and other powerful entities, but he himself was not necessarily interested in the lower classes and the whole idea of revolution.

It is not necessarily true to say we are lefties rather than righties, but I do think the tendency, as I say, is that people versus power is probably just as good a way to define the Left versus the Right. It is natural that those who align themselves on the Right who tend to be religious, militaristic, and oppressive, and so forth – and fond of wielding power to control society and to protect property – are more often its targets than not. Wouldn’t you say?

10. Yea, it doesn’t seem to me an accident that Donald Wildman called into the radio station based on the small sketch by Carlin, the Seven Dirty Words. Carlin, then, followed this with a routine about knobs and being a minister.



Ministerial, pastoral, Christian values tend to lean Right. That reaction doesn’t seem a surprise to me. 

That’s what strange about the current restriction on free speech. If you probably took a quick survey, at least on most of the campuses where most of these movements have trigger warnings, safe spaces, and against microaggressions – and that’s one ‘wonderful’ thing: microaggressions; if you surveyed a handful of the kids that basically agreed with that approach, you would find they would describe themselves as Left-wing. They would’ve voted for Bernie if they could’ve.

That is distressing. That it is coming from that side. It is not that the Left does not have a tradition of restricting free speech, but it is depressing, not just distressing.

11. Those perspectives are matched by the professor and instructors. There was a study done with some big names such as Jonathan Haidt, who has done research into the moral values of the major political positions in the United States, Democrat and Republican.

In that research or analysis of political views in universities, those that leaned Left more than Right in the instructors on campus. That would be professors or a non-research based university (so just instructors). It was about a dozen, or a dozen and half, to one with Left political leaning to Right political leaning. There is something going on there. Something we haven’t discussed. Why is it coming bottom-up – cohort-wise?

Let me say, it is one of the things I find odd about it too. It is something in the album we’re trying to do it without saying it. If you are worried about having trigger warnings in articles, you should really be worried about the 300 million real triggers out in the country, and the itchy fingers that are longing to use them.

The microaggressions that people are worried about hardly match the macroaggressions we see in places like New York, which are obviously taking place on a regular basis for whatever reason. It scares the living shit out of me.

I don’t know why it doesn’t scare the shit out of these kids worried about trigger warnings, at least more than they are. That might be the trigger to explain what is going on here. I don’t think what is going on here is political correctness as much as sexual correctness and social correctness, or if you want to push the point solipsistic correctness. A lot of what is going on here is an actual evasion of the reality of these issues. That could be a simple fear, but I don’t think it is.

I hate to sound like an old fart here. I am certainly old, but I am not a fart.


It does seem to have a great deal to do with all of these young people having grown up with the internet at their disposal. The internet, increasingly, is – it seems to me – turning us into a solipsistic race. You are able edit your own life and your own information. Your own pleasures and your own threats to whatever degree you want. So if you don’t want to hear about real aggressions, you don’t have to. Or if you don’t want to read articles with alarming or distressing ideas, you don’t have to.

That would seem to be at least a major factor as to why this is happening now and why this has not happened in this way before.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Actor, Satirist, and Writer

[2] St. Albans School; Cambridge University.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: