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New satirical launch The Poke aims to challenge Private Eye and Viz

LONDON - A satirical magazine called The Poke is being launched next month at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in an attempt to inject some life back into the UK comedy scene.

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The Poke, which is being written by the same team behind cult style magazine Limb by Limb, aims to bridge the gap in the market between the boardroom humour of Private Eye and Viz's student comic style.

Editor Jasper Gibson, the former editor of Limb by Limb, said: "We're for people who enjoy 'The Office' and 'The League of Gentlemen' who have nowhere to go at the moment."

"Companies targeting ABC1 consumers spent £190m last year advertising around programming that reaches this audience. This is how we know there's a demand for a publication such as The Poke," he said.

Gibson hopes The Poke will help re-ignite the UK's talent for comedy writing, which he feels has been overtaken by the US.

He said: "The British invented comedy. Once it was 'Monty Python', 'Blackadder' and 'Ab Fab'. Now it's 'South Park', 'Friends' and 'Frasier'.

"British TV executives would rather get four weak panel shows out of their budgets than aspire to creating the next 'Simpsons'.

"They spend millions on buying in American sitcoms and wonder why they have to repeat 'Dad's Army' and 'Are You Being Served?'"

The first issue will include contributors who have written for popular UK shows such as 'Spitting Image', 'Have I Got News for You', 'Dead Ringers' and 'The 11 O'Clock Show'.

Poke will be launched at the Edinburgh Festival with the first issue handed out around the festival with a print run of 50,000. It's September issue is being included in fresher packs at universities and will have a print run of 250,000.

The magazine will initially be distributed free at comedy clubs and bars and it will also be available online at thepoke.co.uk.

Gibson added that he is already in talks with a number of publishers about a distribution deal that could eventually see the magazine gain a cover price as it hits newsstands.

The project is being backed by a number of media companies including Channel 4, International Artists and Paramount. They are providing a lot of the advertising for the first issue as part of their agreements with The Poke.

A message on the Limb By Limb site reads: "We at Limb By Limb have realised that lifestyle magazines are shit, especially our one, so, with new business partners, we are launching a very different title at the Edinburgh Festival. It is called The Poke. It is funny."

A Poke radio show and spoof text message news service will be launched in the autumn.

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