lods of emone – Will Edic

While I must confess my lack of familiarity with British television, and especially with alt comedy, one of the few examples I am familiar with is Harry Enfield’s Loadsamoney. First appearing on Friday Night Live in 1988, Enfield’s character quickly gained a life of his own with his derisive attitude, neon jacket, and braggart personality, becoming one of Enfield’s most widely-known characters.

The 1988 music video Loadsamoney (Doin’ Up the House)[1] is undoubtedly Loadsamoney’s best-known legacy, having  peaked to near the top of the charts in the UK and endured into the information era as an internet meme. In order to accomplish its intended message, the video itself it is comically overblown; the music is repetitive, record scratches come out of nowhere, side gags self-ridicule the video’s premise, and nearly every single lyric concerns eponymous “loads of money” with no other apparent meaning except for itself.

Though I personally find it funny, as a character Loadsamoney was ultimately ineffective as political satire, having been embraced in enough of a positive light to warrant being killed off by its creator. This failure seems to be indicative of a broader trend in British alt-comedy as discussed by Gavin Schaffer in Fighting Thatcher with Comedy, wherein:

“[…] it seems arguable that alternative comedy did not so much as make an anti-Thatcherite challenge as reflect the broader failure of the left in this period to do so- a reality that becomes clearer amid an exploration of the social elitism of alternative comedy.” – Gavin Schaffer[2]

Despite the irony of its brief commercial success, Loadsamoney accomplishes very little from a political standpoint. It’s satire isn’t always clear, its character is open to interpretations that countermand its intended parody, and like much alt-comedy of the time, it offers no alternatives to the institutions it alleges to oppose. While Loadsamoney may succeed in eliciting laughs, especially in the context-less arcade of internet humor, it ultimately falls short in successfully resisting the political climate of its time.

[1] Harry Enfield, Loadsamoney (Doin’ Up The House), performed by Harry Enfield (1988; London; Mercury Records), music video.

[2] Gavin Schaffer (2016), ‘Fighting Thatcher with comedy: What to do when there is no alternative’, Journal of British Studies, 55(2), 374-397

One comment

  1. Your account raises an interesting and relevant question: how explicitly should comedy address contemporary social and political issues? A level of ambiguity seems to risk the text being taken without its context or interpreted against its intended reading; on the other hand, more explicit ridicule threatens to alienate audiences with problematic beliefs the comedy wants to address in the first place. I wonder if there are examples where the two are not mutually exclusive.

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