Red Nose Day

Nick Offerman with red nose

John Wall writes with the suggestion of new concept for this blog: the cultural Not One-Off Britishism. The import he has in mind is Red Nose Day, which I just learned was started in the U.K. in 1988 as a way to raise money for charitable causes through comedy performances on TV and, apparently, rampant photos of people wearing red noses, in the manner of clowns.

On May 21, Red Nose Day is coming to the U.S., through a variety of NBC broadcasts and other events.

It seems like a good cause, but with all due respect, the brand needs some work, since (in my humble opinion), there is little that’s unfunnier than a clown.

17 thoughts on “Red Nose Day

  1. Red Nose Day (part of Comic Relief) is a now huge event in the UK which it is obligatory to observe every two years – not a school in the country doesn’t get involved. Even Prime Ministers get roped into sketches (most famously Tony Blair). Thankfully, though, there is never a clown in sight. Unless you count Tony Blair.

  2. “Little unfunnier than a clown.” Loosen up – get a life! It’s all in a good cause and everyone has a bit if fun!

  3. It’s really isn’t about clowns. It’s about ordinary people of all ages wearing red noses and doing silly things for money. It’s rather brilliant. The creepy thing about clowns is the face-paint and the downcast expression and the weird clothes. I usually make cakes with white icing and a half a cherry on top and sell them to chums.

  4. I liked the early days when the biennial red nose steadily escalated to car noses then building noses. I’ve lived in Canada for 14 years now, so fully expect the UK has county-sized noses by now. I believe the Aussies have been doing it a few years now too. Come on Canada… get with the programme…

  5. Red nose day/Comic Relief needs a certain degree of irony. I wonder what USAians will make of it?

  6. I personally am annoyed that in the USA Red Nose Day is coming to us as a corporate promotion — supported by Walgreens, M&Ms, and NBC — not as a broad cultural phenomenon, as apparently it is in the UK.

    1. i had the exact same reaction. ive know about it in the UK but it didnt have this corperate tie in like it got when it got imported here

  7. The whole point of Comic Relief and their Red Nose Day is to be grass-roots and non-corporate – plus of course, in the UK our dominant broadcaster is the non-commercial BBC, which is the main source of publicity for the cause. Thankfully there are no clowns involved (unless you count politicians jumping on the bandwagon) – just the red noses.

  8. Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day depends on sponsors to fund the costs, notably the BBC and the private sector BT (formerly British Telecommunications) which enables donation via telephone to its call centres. Sainsbury’s supermarket chain sells items for the charity and British Airways is also a sponsor. I’ve been on flights where BA has asked passengers for donations. But hey ho! it’s all in a good cause, just like the daft noses.

    1. It’s always had a corporate element to it. They could only sell the first red noses with the agreement of a national chain to sell them! Then clothing stores to sell the t-shirts. This was pre internet for all. These days everyone jumps on it with special ‘red nose’ products. That said, I can’t remember the last time I saw someone who wasn’t on TV wearing a red nose.

      Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to dig out my Cliff Richard and the Young Ones single…

      1. Whilst looking to see if my copy of the first ever comic relief single was worth any money (top tip: use safe search if your keyword are vinyl Cliff Richard living doll) I realised that it was released in 1986. I think 1988 was the 2nd one, when it became a regular thing rather than a one off like Live Aid – which inspired it.

  9. Red Nose Day was also launched nationally in Australia in 1988 as a fundraiser for SIDS and is an annual event mainly selling red noses and holding galas.

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