sat 24/02/2024

Jane Bussmann: Bono and Geldof Are C*nts | reviews, news & interviews

Jane Bussmann: Bono and Geldof Are C*nts

Jane Bussmann: Bono and Geldof Are C*nts

Impassioned parody lecture about the poverty industry makes you laugh and think

Writer and journalist Jane Bussmann takes no prisoners

Jane Bussmann may not be an immediately familiar name to some, but you will know her work. The writer, who was once a celebrity journalist, has been part of the writing teams for South Park, Smack the Pony and Brass Eye, among other quality television comedies, and wrote a hilarious memoir, The Worst Date Ever, about how a reckless whim took her to war-torn Uganda, where she helped unveil the appalling crimes of rebel leader Joseph Kony.

She has maintained close links with many she met on her travels and now lives much of the time in Kenya, from where she is well placed to cast a cynical eye over the relationship between the UK and Africa, and her show, Bono and Geldof Are C*nts, is a scathing parody lecture about what she describes as "the poverty industry".

She tells us that much of our charity donations doesn’t go to the needy

Nobody - not famous rock stars, Western governments, NGOs, charities or well-meaning liberals - is safe in her impassioned but often hilarious onslaught, which she illustrates with slides and videos. The titular twosome come in for a particular kicking – the c-word is used liberally to describe them and what Bussmann believes is their entirely wrong-headed assessment of Africa’s situation – but so do various United Nations organisations. She tells us that much of our charity donations and tax-funded overseas aid doesn’t go to the needy, rather: “Those having three-hour lunches on money donated to feed the hungry – not the peckish.”

She may not be a natural performer, but Bussmann, along with co-writer Naisola Grimwood, an African film-maker, has a deliciously sharp tongue and a convincing argument about a negative (essentially racist or patronising) Western view of Africa, where the poverty industry needs war, civil strife, dictatorships and local corruption to keep their programmes going and, by extension, their well-paid careers. After all, if honest, efficient governments create civil order and booming economies then endemic hunger would surely disappear – but what would become of the all but permanent infrastructure staffed by Westerners, often on very high salaries?

You may not entirely agree with Bussmann’s conclusions – and I found some of her material in need of more context or greater explanation – but this is a show that will make you think while you’re laughing. And political humour is so rare these days that she gets my vote just for doing it.

As well as the Bono/Geldof show, Bussmann is developing Distinguished Ladies, a TV sitcom based on The Worst Date Ever, a read-through of which she is doing later this month. Well worth catching.

  • Bono and Geldof Are C*nts at Soho Theatre until 23 November
  • Distinguished Ladies read-through is at Soho Theatre on 24 November
She may not be a natural performer, but Bussmann has a deliciously sharp tongue


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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