The Political Cartoon Gallery scares me. Open for about a year now on Store Street, I am not quite sure how it stays open. Nevertheless if you ever want to be reminded that political cartoons aren’t funny, this is the place for you. It does seem a bit niche and overblown to prove this however.

At the moment there is an exhibition of Churchill dominating the room. Cartoon’s of Churchill do clearly illustrate the problem of political cartooning marvelously. Political cartoons have two premises:
a) caricature of famous people is funny
b) illustrating a poor joke on a news item makes it funny
Somewhere along the line a) and b) morphed into one another, thus we get the Cheshire Cat Blair, the Dunce Bush. And Churchill, well he was a fat pompous fellow who shouted lots. There is a sharp contrast between the war years caricatures (generally lovable, even when stamping on Hitler’s face!) and those surrounding it. The Tory papers made a big deal of the country rejecting him in 1945 (stabbing in the back metaphors) but as time goes on the cartoons illustrate his mistakes as those of an inveterate boozer. War year cartoons have him dressed up as John Bull.

None of them are funny, and few of them add to an understanding of the news item or the nation. Rather it illustrates the key thing about cheap humour, a rushed joke is rarely a good one.