I suppose that’s how you do irreverence in America, through animation. It’s on Family Guy and South Park and all of which are, to a British audience, pretty outrageous in terms of what they can get away with saying. I can’t imagine human beings would be allowed to say any of those things.

‘Moon-faced midget’ Hislop says Americans don’t understand irreverence. (Toby Madden)

Our libel laws are a bit more relaxed than yours. [Hislop is known as “the most-sued man in British legal history.”]

But I remember the Michael Jackson/Blanket episode [South Park’s “The Jeffersons”]. I can’t imagine, you know, had you had humans doing that instead of, it would’ve been allowed to go out.

Any American journalists/comedians/satirical anything you admire?

I remember reading Spy when it came out and thinking that was very exciting.

I think Spy was the closest thing we’ve had to Private Eye.

Yeah, when Graydon [Carter and Kurt Anderson] launched that, it all seemed very funny and sharp and rude and all those things. So I don’t know whether there’s an appetite for it. I mean, the only thing that comes over here in any consistent way is people saying Jon Stewart’s brilliant. And that’s taken as standard. It’s like people saying “The West Wing’s brilliant, it’s the best political program that’s ever been made.” And I’m just thinking, this is a liberal fantasy about what a president might be like. I prefer my politics ruder. The British wouldn’t make West Wing. That’s not how we think politics works. We genuinely don’t buy into that. So I think it’s partly expectation.

Are Americans just too polite? Or maybe we just pretend to be too polite?

Maybe you’re polite; maybe you’re just nicer. It’s perfectly possible! You’re certainly much more positive; you’re prepared to see more good.

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Sara Morrison is a former assistant editor at CJR. Follow her on Twitter @saramorrison.