Mocking the Mockers

Channel 4's 10 o'Clock Live often raises important questions while deftly bridging the gap between comedy and politics.

Last night, however, the team were predictably as obsessed with pasties as everyone else in the country seems to be. And that made for interesting viewing, in the context of knowing your subject matter.

Aside from the relatively reasonable debate over whether or not pasties should be taxed in the same way that other hot foods are, there was an entire segment basically devoted to mocking Ed Balls, Rachel Reeves, and that one I can't bring myself to name, for buying some sausage rolls at Greggs.

(NB Sausage rolls are not pasties, but that's a finer point that nobody seems to have picked up on. Either that or it's just irrelevant...)

And this is where it got a bit painful. Following hot on the heels of a worthwhile discussion about pasties, high-fat diets and the class divide, the roundtable segment involving the presenters themselves instead focused on the fact that the Labour trio bought eight sausage rolls.

Consider this exchange between David Mitchell, Jimmy Carr, Lauren Laverne and Charlie Brooker:

DM: "Why did they get eight? There were three of them. They should surely be getting three, possibly six or, if they're going mental, nine."
CB: "[something unintelligible] ...go for the meal deal. He didn't go for the meal deal!"
LL: "Exactly!"
JC: "And he's the shadow chancellor! He should have got a bag of crisps and a drink and a sausage roll. Come on, it's a bargain!"

Well first of all, here's why. The meal deal is £2.99 and includes a sandwich, crisps and a drink. Not hot sandwiches, and not sausage rolls. So, presuming they were there to make a political point in light of all the 'pasty tax' hoohah, the meal deal was never gonna serve their needs.

Secondly, at £2.99, the meal deal would have totalled £5.97 for the three of them. Sausage rolls, as people who shop at Greggs know, are cheaper in multiples of four - from £2.35, but prices may vary nationwide. That's £4.70 for eight sausage rolls - a quantity of food that's verging on "going mental", according to David Mitchell.

You can find both of those deals on the Greggs 'Tempting Deals' page - you don't even need to go in-store to be aware of them.

The real problem isn't that the 10 o'Clock Live team didn't know about the four-for-£2.35 deal, so much as the fact that they demonstrated that lack of awareness in the middle of a piece mocking Labour for not knowing about Greggs' deals.

Don't Be An Idiot

The reason why I'm bothering to mention this is simply because it's a useful lesson in how not to be an idiot.

As a freelance writer, I often have to research a subject quickly in order to write about it - so I know the value that comes from putting that effort in and not missing the obvious.

Likewise, it's important to work with the facts. Don't go mentioning hot sausage rolls if the deal only includes cold sandwiches.

Finally, know your audience - if you're trying to align yourself with the pasty-going public, and specifically against non-pasty-eaters, don't highlight the fact that you've never heard of one of Greggs' best and most long-term multibuy deals.

Those are fairly specific lessons, but apply them equally to anything else you do - such as promoting a particular special offer on your eCommerce site, or publishing a politically charged comment piece - and you can make sure you're not left with egg on your face, whether it's hot or cold.


This is my blog, and I occasionally post opinion pieces (including this one) based on my interpretation of the facts. I may have missed something, so feel free to abuse me in the comments below if I have!