The Secret Policeman's Ball 2012
Like its predecessors in 2006 and 2008, the show title was a conscious reprise of the title of the 1979 Amnesty benefit show, The Secret Policeman's Ball, that heralded the organization's breakthrough in public awareness and fund-raising. To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Amnesty International, the show took place in the United States for the first time on March 4, 2012 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, instead of its usual location in London.
Content of the show
To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Amnesty International, the show took place in the United States for the first time on March 4, 2012 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City and was produced by James Serafinowicz. The show featured a mix of prominent comedians from both Britain and the United States. After a taped introduction by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the live comedy lineup included Jon Stewart, Russell Brand, Eddie Izzard, Reggie Watts, Ben Stiller, Peter Serafinowicz, Fred Armisen, Kristen Wiig, Seth Meyers, Jason Sudeikis (in addition to Bobby Moynihan, Jay Pharaoh, and Taran Killam from Saturday Night Live), Rachel Dratch, Catherine Tate, David Cross & Bob Odenkirk, Hannibal Buress, Sarah Silverman, Paul Rudd, Matt Berry, John Oliver, Rashida Jones, Chris O'Dowd, David Walliams, Jimmy Carr, Noel Fielding, Micky Flanagan, Jack Whitehall, Tim Roth, Bill Hader (as Julian Assange), Rex Lee (as Kim Jong-Un), and a cameo appearance by Richard Branson.
Liam Neeson also introduced a set from formerly imprisoned Burmese comedian and political activist Zarganar. In between the comedic performances, the music lineup consisted of Mumford & Sons, Reggie Watts with Peter Serafinowicz, and a concluding set by Coldplay. Additionally, Beavis and Butt-head appeared in an animated sequence and former Monty Python members Michael Palin, Eric Idle, and Terry Jones appeared in pre-recorded video segments explaining comedically why they were not there. At several moments in the show, Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets commented on the event and spoke to the performers from one of the balconies. Aziz Ansari, The Antics (U.S.), Maya Rudolph and Stephen Colbert were rumored to appear but ultimately did not. The event was streamed live on Epix. Peter Serafinowicz provided the voice of the announcer.
It was later shown on Channel 4 in the UK on 9 March 2012, with extra behind the scenes interviews with some of the performers. The show was presented by Jimmy Carr, providing voice-overs, as well as recorded links out of ads by various comedians.
- "Secret Policeman's Ball gets American debut". Daily Telegraph. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2012.
- "Secret Policeman's Ball crosses Atlantic". BBC News. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2012.
- "British and American comics swap partners at Amnesty benefit Secret Policeman’s Ball". Washington Post. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2012.