Seven comedy sketches about PR to keep you laughing in lockdown

“If you can’t laugh about your job, you must be a hostage negotiator, or very dull at dinner parties.”

Don't be that person who can't laugh at their job, writes Sam Burne James
Don't be that person who can't laugh at their job, writes Sam Burne James

That quote isn’t from a famous person, it’s something I’ve just made up because I couldn’t think of a good way to start this article.

I’m a comedy geek, and I enjoy the fact that PR and communications provides a rich seam of inspiration for comedians, from Ab Fab to Siobhan Sharp and Malcolm Tucker.

Here, inspired by Dominic Cummings’ recent Herculean efforts at ‘explaining’ his Durham excursion, are a few of my favourites.

I could say that the aim is to make readers reflect on the nature of our role and provide professional food for thought – but the reality is I just hope they make you chuckle.

For the benefit of those whose home office is doubling as homeschool, a couple of these are NSFW (not safe for work).

1) 'The BBC are having a bit of a think...'

In this sketch, Alexander Armstrong, Ben Miller and Jessica Ransom give some heartfelt but scarcely believable apologies from the presenters of a Blue Peter-esque children’s TV show.

2) ‘But I'm not sorry and I don't want to change’

Another take on celebrity apologies here. Dolly Adesina (played by Lolly Adefope, who also wrote this 13-minute caper) faces being cancelled.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p07gy8jy/comedy-shorts-sorry

3) ‘I had suspected that the Carphone Warehouse was in fact a front for a white supremacist organisation’

Yes, number three on this list and I’m already cheating by using a piece of stand-up rather than a sketch. Stewart Lee neatly skewers mealy-mouthed corporate speak.

4) ‘It will take quite a long time’

Ever put someone up for interview before realising you’re not quite sure they’ll actually be able to get their key messages across? Oh, just me. Awkward. Here’s Armstrong and Miller again…

5) ‘My meeting... it was with Lion bars’

You’ve probably noticed a dearth of female talent in this list so far. I hold my hand up to what is a fair point, and an indictment of the comedy industry. Eddie Monsoon will be turning in her grave (assuming her fictional liver has packed in by now).

I had wanted to include ‘The Lane’ from Anna & Katy, highlighting some clumsy product placement from a soap opera’s sponsor. Sadly, very little of that excellent 2013 sketch show by Anna Crilly and Katy Wix is available online, so this from Mitchell and Webb does a rather similar job…

6) 'On camera, you guys seem really happy together’

I’m spoiling you now – this isn’t just a sketch, but 12 episodes of a quarter of an hour each, in which Liam Williams and Emma Sidi send up the world of vloggers. The cast is a who’s who of rising British comedy talent.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06l2nvb

7) 'Writing what people are doing on the thing that they're doing it in, beside or with'

I know I’ve already done Mitchell and Webb, but in fairness that slot should have been Anna & Katy’s. This sketch is actually set in a branding-cum-PR agency, so I couldn’t leave it out.

Sam Burne James is a former PRWeek news editor and an associate at Carta Communications


PRWeek UK is committed to having a more diverse selection of commentators in our articles, and is compiling a list of BME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) PR professionals who are willing to be quoted. To be added to the list, please email john.harrington@haymarket.com and include your specialist areas of expertise, and/or preferred subjects for commentary. 

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