British politics is already too silly for satire – Armando Iannucci

By Francesca Gosling

Director and satirist Armando Iannucci has branded the political climate in Britain as already “too silly” to parody.

Best known for his hit comedy show The Thick Of It and White House-based US counterpart Veep, he is also the creator behind upcoming movie The Death Of Stalin, delving into Russian history.

He said developments since he began filming – including the election of Donald Trump as US president and Theresa May’s instalment as Prime Minister – have reached their own comedic level.

Jason Isaacs, Armando Iannucci, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Palin, Paul Whitehouse and David Schneider attending the UK premiere of The Death Of Stalin (Ian West/PA)

Asked about potential plans for a fresh UK-based series during his film’s premiere in London on Tuesday, he told the Press Association: “Jeremy Corbyn versus Theresa May already has its own internal comedy that it’s playing out. I will leave that for others to sort out.”

Alluding to an awkward speech recently given by May that was marred by a persistent cough and rogue letters falling off the backdrop, he continued: “If I did something in The Thick Of It where the letters fall off behind the Prime Minister, I would cut that as being too silly. I would have thought, that’s not believable.”

He began filming the movie, based on a graphic novel of the same name, last summer, months before reports emerged about Trump’s relationship with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The film, starring the likes of Jason Isaacs, Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor, Michael Palin, Andrea Riseborough and Paul Whitehouse, opens with the messy scene of Joseph Stalin’s death and tells a darkly comic tale of the events that unfolded in the lead-up to his funeral.

Iannucci said: “I was looking at the idea of maybe doing something about a fictional dictator… but then the producers who own the rights to the novel sent it to me and I instantly thought, absolutely, this is the story.

“Why invent a story when it’s all there, it happened.

“At the time I was thinking, let’s show this so we can think that this must never happen again. But we shot it last summer before the whole Putin-Trump thing, and now it’s more a case of, “oh god, please don’t let it happen again”.

“Stalin is a sensitive subject in Russia. He is popular with some and still regarded as awful by others. I’m sure people will have something to say about it and that’s fine… I am genuinely interested to see what the response is in Russia.”

Iannucci also took a moment to pay tribute to lead Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who recently shared the news of her breast cancer diagnosis.

Iannucci, 53, said: “I know everyone is hopeful, but you just have to get through the course of treatment and keep fingers crossed.

“Julia is a trooper, and if anyone is going to have the energy and the spirit to take on something like that, that would be her.”

The Death Of Stalin opens in UK cinemas on Friday.

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