Opinion

If you're worried about money, here's a way to make some

Do you need to generate some income – or know someone who does? The Big Issue can help you, writes editor Paul McNamee

Joe Lycett

There was more anger about Joe Lycett's joke than there was about the poverty that millions are being plunged into Image: BBC

Nearly two years ago Joe Lycett created a piece of art for the Big Issue. Given his then recently discovered facility for portraiture, we asked if he’d scare something up that encapsulated the year just gone. Joe sent us back a portrait of Jeff Bezos. On it were the words ‘2020, Best Year Ever!’. It came at the end of lockdown, a year that Jeff no doubt enjoyed, bulking out his bank account by a few billion.

Joe Lycett's portrait of Jeff Bezos
Joe Lycett’s portrait of Jeff Bezos in 2020

“I get it. It’s been tough for some of you,” wrote Lycett in accompanying text. “You’ve not stopped going on about it. You’ve whined on and on about how awful it’s been. Well, I’m sick of it. Have any of you ungrateful little urchins considered the good things that have happened. Have any of you congratulated old Jeff? Jeff’s had a great one. Cheer up.”

Clearly, we were incandescent. How could this so-called ‘comedian’ show so much dripping sarcasm and disdain for a billionaire who just wanted to make sure people all over the world received things they needed, and sometimes didn’t need, all overpackaged in a brown cardboard box? 

It was shocking, and typical. We binned the piece, cancelled Lycett and made a complaint to the press watchdog and to the comedian’s union insisting they remove ‘comedian’ Lycett’s comedy card. Sadly, he snuck out again recently and hammered incoming PM Liz Truss on a BBC politics programme last week. Incredible. Let’s see if Lycett gets his comedy card back this time so quickly!

For the sake of clarity, I should make clear that I am joking. What I just said is not supposed to be taken literally. In fact, the opposite. Imagine!

The clarity is only coming because some people, let’s call them snowflakes, got very angry about Joe Lycett, one of Britain’s best comedians, and also a proper, change-making consumer rights activist. There were even questions about him in Parliament. The irony is that there was more anger about a comedian being funny than about the policy plan, or lack of it, from the putative PM, who seemed to be operating at some distance from reality. It felt very much like a distraction technique.

It led to calls for fewer comedians, or those with a lighter touch, to be allowed onto political shows. This would be a very bad idea. For one thing, political shows populated only by politicians, especially a number of whom will be in newly senior positions in a new government and so will only trot out prepared lines, will not be very interesting. Secondly, comedians frequently get at truths quicker. It’s what they do; they can be much less varnished and more open. And also, if any government, or any huge organisation, can’t take the stress-test of a few jokes, then they have more serious problems at heart.

As the storm gathers, at the Big Issue we will allow the comedians in. We will continue to entertain and to offer practical advice on the page, and a means of practical help off it. In this edition our vendor Simone Gill details how she worked longer on her pitch to earn extra money for the bills. It is paying off. Simone is using the Big Issue as her anti-poverty buffer against the cost-of-living crisis. That is something to be proud of, for all associated with The Big Issue. And we are here for you, or anybody you know, who could benefit from extra income, like Simone. Selling The Big Issue is a straightforward way of earning extra cash, now when it’s needed more than ever. 

You can contact us by calling 020 7526 3200 (choose option 1) or by emailing vendor.support@bigissue.com and we can help get you started. No joke.

Paul McNamee is editor of the Big IssueRead more of his columns here. Follow him on Twitter

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income.

To support our work buy a copy! If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
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