New HBO Comedy Veep With Julia Louis-Dreyfus Has British Roots

Comedy fans from both sides of the Atlantic are excited for HBO’s new comedy series Veep starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the Vice President of the United States. The cast also includes Tony Hale of Arrested Development. But it’s the show’s British creator Armando Iannucci (and team) who has a proven track record of making politics funny.

Veep debuts on April 22, and the first episode will be available free on iTunes and HBO.com the next day.

Iannucci became known for writing and directing television series that themselves satirized TV news and TV talk shows: The Day Today with Chris Morris and I’m Alan Partridge with Steve Coogan, respectively. In 2004 he turned his attention to the corridors of British political power with The Thick of It a dry, documentary style sit-com set in the UK Parliament.

Iannucci first took on US politics in the 2009 film In the Loop which featured many actors from The Thick of It playing similar characters. The film features a diplomatic tour-de-farce between British and American officials in the lead up to a conflict that seems very similar to the Iraq war. Here’s Iannucci talking about In the Loop, which opened 3 years ago this week, with clips from the film including James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) as a US General:

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is best known for her role as Elaine on Seinfeld. Not everyone is aware that she was a cast member on Saturday Night Live in the early 1980s. Now you are one of the lucky ones. Here’s Julia in an MTV News sketch impersonating original “VJ” Nina Blackwood on a 1984 SNL episode:

Veep follows a bit of a trend of comedies with one foot each in England and America, including the David Cross show The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret on IFC and “Episodes” which stars Matt LeBlanc from Friends and Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan from British comedies Green Wing and Black Books (which is another favorite of mine).

Here’s a great behind-the-scenes feature on the making of the series that includes interviews with the cast and with veteran political writer Frank Rich who is an Executive Producer on Veep.

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