Private Eye

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Video Transcript

 

Ken Pyne:

 

You can pay three hundred pounds to find out how long you are going to live, which is ridiculous.  How can you meet your death that’s funny?  Well, what is there? Somebody being murdered perhaps?  Well, a man murdering his wife isn’t funny, but a woman murdering her boring husband is.

 

I would have started in the mid-Seventies, when Richard England was editor. I didn’t get that many in until Iain took over, and then when Iain took over I Had a regular thinga bout the BBC which ran from about 1985 until a year ago.  So I was in it virtually every issue.

 

So I sent it through to Tony Rushton and wait to see if they like it.  I used to draw cartoons all throuhg school.  I managed to sell to magazines and then getting the odd joke in the newspapers when I was around nineteen.  I say it is like an extension of childhood; it’s like being a footballer with lots of less money.  And that’s it!  I fax it through and then I wait to hear!  Isn’t it interesting!  (laughs)

 

You get an awful lot of editors now who don’t have a sense of humour.  They were surgically removed.  That is one of the things that is great about working for Private Eye: It is genuinely funny.  And that is unusual, editors are frightened of humour.  They are just frightened of upsetting anybody, which fortunately Private Eye have never suffered from.

 

 

Tony Rushton:

 

This is Mrs Thatchers toilet roll.  There she is.

 

 

Ian Hislop:

 

That’s a bad taste Glastonbury, Death with a pair of boots on, wandering about. 

 

 

Nick Newman:

 

Oh, very good.

 

 

Ian Hislop:

 

I quite like that ­­– someone had to bring their son to the protest because the school is closed.  A teacher bringing his own...that’s funny.

 

 

Nick Newman:

 

One of the problems is that a lot of cartoonists all thinking about the same issues and the same areas so you inevitably come up wit the same sort of jokes.

 

Ian Hislop:

 

Not a lot of people are going to be coming up with that one. The pope sitting in jail saying ‘everyone’s innocent in here, pal!’

 

 

Nick Newman:

 

This is a very famous early Eye cartoon.  That’s MacMillan in the Christine Keeler pose.

 

 

Ken Pyne:

 

A published cartoon is a good cartoon.  That’s what you are aiming for.  It’s very difficult when you think up jokes because you have to take into consideration the magazine, the editors sense of humour - because the editor is the magazine.  Most of the time your favourite joke is never taken.  The one you think ‘that’s a great joke’ they never take.

 

 

Tony Rushton (on phone to Ken):

 

“good morning, good morning...’

 

 

Ken Pyne:

 

Oh good, OK, what size?

 

 

Tony Rushton:

 

Thank you very much, talk to you soon bye.

 

 

Ken Pyne:

 

Just a simple outline and now we fill it in. Very low tech. I’ve never found a better way because you can use some pens like these sort of Rotring pens which are very good but it makes you draw too quickly and it doesn’t look so good.  It’s nice to use these nice old mapping pens.

 

 

Nick Newman:

 

The process is exactly the same as it has been since 1961. You have strips of copy, which you cut and stick down in some sort of shape in the magazine.  I think somewhere here we’ve got - here’s a page from I would guess the early sixties and it’s pretty much the same except, I mean these are Rushton cartoons which are falling to pieces.  But it’s typed out, stuck on the page, and printed out, then stuck on the page.  So we’ve come a long long way in fifty years.

 

 

Ian Hislop:

 

These cartoons are fantastically popular, people love them. I think most publications miss a trick. There are two sorts of jokes, there’s the non-topical joke, which is just about anything: dinosaurs, desert islands, lemmings; that timeless cartoonist world.  Then there are the topical jokes, which come off the week.

 

 

Nick Newman:

 

In a shameless effort to put on readers, put Kate Middleton on the cover.

 

 

Ian Hislop:

 

No let’s put Pippa on! We’d put her on the back cover, probably.

 

 

Nick Newman:

 

That’s a good one

 

 

Ian Hislop:

 

That’s nice - that’s him (William) literally turning into his dad there. Dad says ‘stop hogging the limelight’.

 

He’s saying ‘stop hogging the limelight’, she’s saying ‘stop meddling!’

 

 

Ken Pyne:

 

Now I just take the pencil marks off because when you scan it in the pencil marks come up.

 

Now that’s that, then I scan it in, there it is. Now I send it to Bridget at Private Eye.

 

On press day you send it in the morning, and you could wait until about half past four, and then you find out you’ve got until five o’clock to do it. You’ve got to draw them very, very quickly.

 

If you’re doing topical jokes the more pressure you are under I find the more fun it is.  You might get angry if anyone rings you up but it’s stimulating to get something done when the odds are against you. It’s a bit like a drug.

 

 

Ian Hislop:

 

That’s a classic Ken Pyne unhappy scene.

 

 

Nick Newman:

 

Sour…bitter.

 

Ian Hislop:

 

Sour…bitter. It’s a timeless joke of unhappiness, that’s what we are about - bringing a little bit of shade into people’s lives.

 

Ken: (makes a face) ‘no you’re not drawing me!’ (laugh)

 

 

 

 

 

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What is it like to be a fly on the wall of the Private Eye office, observing the laughter, chaos and frenzy that surrounds the production of an issue? Guided by cartoonist Ken Pyne, we spent some time with Ian Hislop’s band of merry men, and discovered that serious skill and nerve, as well a sharp wit, are required in order to work for the Eye.

Skill, nerve and humour are required in order to be a Private Eye cartoonist...