Too broad? Too unlikely? Iannucci has found the truth to be no less unlikely, and almost immune to parody. Having filmed a sequence about a secret senate committee that everyone wants to join after its existence is leaked to the press, he discovered that such an incident had actually taken place.
“We make things up and put them in the program,” he explains. “Then politicians come up afterward and say, ‘How did you find that out? We thought we’d kept it quiet.’”
The terror of exposure that fuels day-to-day politics in Iannucci’s work is only becoming more pervasive. “You just have to turn over, and somebody’s blogging about it,” he says. “And what’s said on the blog, even though it’s only read by a hundred people, becomes massively important. It gives politicians even more outlets to be paranoid about. Seeing something written down somehow lends it an air of authority.”
On the other hand, blog posts appear downright epic next to the tsunami of one-liners that is Twitter, the most naturally comedic medium to come down the pike to date. When Tucker punches the adviser in The Thick of It, a civilian leaks word of the fight via Twitter. And Iannucci later used the same medium to thank appreciative fans of the episode.
No surprise, then, that social media will dominate at least two of Iannucci’s upcoming projects. These include an HBO script set in the world of Internet startup companies and a second film.
“I’m really keen to do a slapstick visual physical comedy,” he says. “Something very mundane happens in someone’s glass office, but it’s spotted by someone outside and turns into a whole embarrassing situation that gets out of control. You can’t do anything now without somebody catching it on their phone and putting it on YouTube or whatever. There’s a lot of comic potential there for terrible things to happen to people.”