Humble cartoonist holds secret to happiness

Life in brief: Each day Matt draws six different cartoon ideas, but just one gets published.

Do we take life too seriously? For decades Matt Pritchett has turned hard-hitting news into funny cartoons. He says humour can be found (almost) anywhere because “nothing matters very much.”

It all started by mistake. Thirty years ago The Daily Telegraph released an edition with the wrong date on its front page (it said it was Thursday 25th February a day early). The editor was forced to issue a front page apology the next day. But he needed something else — something to take the sting out of a mounting PR disaster.

A young cartoonist known as Matt came to the rescue. Beneath the apology he drew a cartoon of two people with the caption: “I hope I have a better Thursday than I did yesterday.” It went down a storm, becoming the first of over 8,000 cartoons he has created for the paper.

When asked about the key to his success, Matt himself offered this thought: “Nothing matters very much and hardly anything matters at all.” Therefore, humour can be found in almost any situation.

Yet outside the comfortable world inhabited by British politicians and journalists, some cartoonists must think twice before adopting such a light-hearted approach.

This was brutally demonstrated in the 2015 attacks on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Terrorists linked to al-Qaeda killed a dozen staff after the paper printed satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

So should we all look on the bright side more often?

No Matt-er

These simple cartoons have a deep philosophy, some say. We may think our actions or grand issues of State are important, but they are not. Allowing ourselves to find humour in “serious” issues lightens our days, and connects us with the profound insignificance of our lot.

Nonsense, others respond. Claiming that “nothing matters very much” is scant solace for those who, in the 21st century, still live in poverty. And historic advances in civil rights or gender equality would never have happened if everyone subscribed to such complacency.

You Decide

  1. Is there anything we should not make jokes about?

Activities

  1. It is your turn to draw your very own pocket cartoon! First you will need to think of a news story for inspiration (try browsing The Day for inspiration). Once you have your source, draw a simple cartoon about that story along with a fun caption. Share with your class if you like.

Some People Say...

“The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”

David Ogilvy

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Every living former prime minster of Great Britain has praised Matt on his 30th birthday at The Telegraph. For example, David Cameron says he keeps one of Matt’s cartoons framed on his wall.
What do we not know?
We do not know if everyone agrees with them however. For example, Jeremy Corbyn was asked to offer some words of congratulation, however his team allegedly refused.

Word Watch

The Daily Telegraph
The British daily newspaper founded in 1855.
Matt
Matt Prichett has been the cartoonist at The Daily Telegraph since 1988. He was awarded an MBE in 2002, and in 2003 was named as one of the UK’s 50 funniest people.
At all
This phrase is originally ascribed to Arthur Balfour who was prime minister of Great Britain from 1902 to 1905.
Almost
In an interview with Andrew Marr, Matt said that he tries to avoid drawing cartoons about stories which contain death. He also commented that he says to himself “then you do think, 'let's calm down, there must be a funny side to this'."