Posts Tagged ‘Alan Carr’

Just a Thought: Comic Relief

March 16, 2009

In the past it would’ve taken an iron will or three VHS tapes to get through the nearly-annual maelstrom of goodwill they call Comic Relief. Luckily, in times of broadband and fibre-optics we can press the relevant button and watch it all back at our own pace. If you’ve paid your money, you makes your choice – and there’s no shame in avoiding such a long stint on the couch if you’ve already coughed up.

But is donating ample justification for having a pop at the format of a show founded on what is undoubtedly a good cause? Or is it churlish to criticise the production values of a well-intentioned telly marathon?

Well – that depends. It depends on whether or not the stuff they put out in return for your charity is insultingly manipulative and needlessly shallow.

With the best will in the world, and with the complete understanding that telethons are fired by the contribution of funds from the viewer, this year’s Comic Relief was borderline unbearable. Unless my nostalgia blanket has crept up over my eyes, the BBC seem to have reneged on the deal somewhat, and the old structure we’re used to – wall-to-wall comedy interspliced with occasional and thorough information pieces – has been shipped out, wholesale. The appeals are now relentlessly repetitive, too short to leave any lasting understanding and the footage around them leaves a sour taste in the throat as a consequence.

One five minute sequence featuring Catherine Tate squawking, with barely any context, would be quickly followed, clumsily and offensively, by footage of a baby dying and endless requests for dollar from the overpaid likes of Claudia Winkleman and Davina McCall. Neither of whom are comedians. Both of whom are irritating at best, and hideously insincere, attention-grabbing slimers at worst. The sight of them on Comic Relief does Top of The Pops, infiltrating the stage when FloRida attempted to plug his new single (proceeds presumably going to his own coiffers), was breathtaking.

It was impossible to ignore them, in the company of the now beyond-irrelevant French and Saunders, mugging along during the whole of the TOTP sequence as they’d been placed right at the front of the audience. Had they been told to make arseholes of themselves by Production, or had they just grabbed the opportunity to blag screentime off their own backs? Either way, it was teeth-grindingly annoying, and added insult to the injury of the likes of Take That promoting non-charitable singles in the wake of shots of poverty-stricken children breathing their last breaths.

The idea of sending celebrities overseas to film VTs to show us where the money goes – or why it’s required – is essential to Comic Relief. There are some classic examples from the past. But this time round, despite Christine Bleakley’s good efforts on The One Show in the preceding week, the night itself concerned itself with a stream of superficial films which misappropriated extremely upsetting, shock images and all ended with the likes of Davina or Annie (bloody) Lennox weeping – as though that would help us to empathise. As though we were too stupid to empathise without seeing a familiar face, urging us to empathise. And the less said about Fearne Cotton fainting, the better.

I haven’t yet mentioned Simon Cowell. They had an appeal from Mr. Simon ‘Fuck You I’m Rich’ Cowell. Didn’t this idea ring a few alarm bells in pre-production? It’s one thing to have the media megalomaniac Jonathan Ross and his enormous salary presenting a slice of the show, and quite another having a shamelessly greedy arsehole like Cowell asking us – recently redundant, credit-crunch victims – for our cash, whether the appeal is genuine or not.

And speaking of Annie Lennox – it’s nice to see her crawl out and into the limelight following a media silence that seemed to last years. And now she’s back – just in time for Comic Relief and the release of her new album. Nice to see that the two happened to coincide.

Despite these howlers, Comic Relief improved over the course of the evening. James Corden was (I can’t believe I’m typing this) brilliant in his England team pep talk. The Celebrity Apprentice was excellent, with the trio of Dee, Carr and Ratner making it last year’s equal. Graham Norton and Alan Carr’s presentation was far better than the earlier stuff because of their lack of earnestness, their avoidance of faux-sincerity and their awareness of the incongruence between the comedy and the tragedy. To their credit, they got on with the job without crying their eyes out between links, then wiping their eyes for a mum-dance to a new release.

There’s got to be an argument for a more intelligent take on the charity telethon. Audiences’ viewing habits have changed and their knowledge of how editing and scheduling works is more developed than ever before. If the BBC learns that we’re not all reliant on Davina’s moodswings when it comes to making a decision on whether or not we donate, we might end up with a product that makes just as much money for the cause and doesn’t leave us feeling soiled and bemused. Here’s hoping.

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Alan Carr’s Celebrity Ding Dong

February 12, 2008

Alan Carr 

Oh dear. Oh god. Oh holy moly mother of Jesus-titty-fucking-Christ. What is this? What the fuck is this? How did this bile inducing piece of horseflesh ever get splashed across my screen? What sins have I and by extension the rest of the country, committed in a previous life to be offered this sack of shit as Friday night entertainment?

I know what we did. We gave credence to a little thing called the Friday Night Projected. Hosted by two fucktard rejects from comedy, this piss-poor excuse for television somehow became popular and launched its mediocre frontmen to national fame. Justin Lee Collins is bad enough – a Butlins level wookie milking his yokel accent in place of charm – but the true crime that FNP commited was giving us Alan Carr.

Alan Carr. Alan Carr. Just  run that name around in your head for a second and let the syllables trickle over your tongue… Alan Carr, the carry on Columbus of modern comedy, the liberal’s excuse for homophobia, the heir apparent to Joe Pasquale…

You see Alan Carr is gay. GAY. That means he likes kissing men. Which is hilarious. HILARIOUS.  Because he’s gay he’s obsessed with cock , like all gay men are. He’s camp, and effeminate, and high pitched and squealingly consumed by innuendo… just like every other gay man in the world. He’s such a great representative of the homosexual community that he makes the women think he’s sweet and the men think he’s non-threatening… just like all gay men should be. He should work for the United Nations as an ambassador or something, he’d really further the cause.

So, Alan Carr’s Celebrity Ding Dong (ooh, see what they did there? ‘Ding dong’ is euphemism for cock) is about pitting celebrities against civilians, seeing who knows more about the other’s life. Seeing that the private life of every cunt who’s ever been television is forcefed down our throats 24 hours a day, while normal life is often held in disdain by even the lowliest X-Factor loser, it shouldn’t be too hard to guess how it works out…

Alan enters to a standing ovation (yes, a fucking standing ovation!) from the Heat subscribers who make up his audience and positions himself betwixt the huge final letter of Ding and first letter of Dong, making himself the O of self worship. He reads the autocue with the ability of a man who learnt to read yesterday and introduces the bottom scrapings that are his celebrity guests:

  • Kirsty Gallagher, who says not one fucking word all show – no doubt earning her 10 grand payday
  • Les Dennis, squandering his Ricky Gervais given second wind with all the finesse of Cuba Gooding Jr after an Oscar win
  • Konnie Huq, kick starting her unavoidable slide into lad mags pictorials
  • Davina McCall, the cackling high priestess of shit television
  • Alex somebody who might have something to do with music, but I only recognize him from a G2 fashion supplement where he talks about his kooky hat collection.

Hardly human beings, let alone celebrities…

The civilian guests enter and are no doubt picked from a gene pool of competing hilarity… each is a little funny looking,  too short or too tall and uncomfortable in their skin.

They are, are of course, from a notoriously boring town and hold down wildly dull jobs. One of them lives in a council house; Davina finds this hilarious.

And so the games begin; which takes longer to obtain, an African baby or a council house? Which is fatter; Posh’s waist or the bingo wings of a fat girl? Throughout we are treated to ‘comedy skits’, the worst of which features Derek Acorah channeling dead celebrities and giving Alan plenty of chances to say “oooh, I’ve been entered” over and over again.

The script – and it is scripted, thoroughly and entirely – is appalling, the delivery of the ‘improvised’ comedy is stage managed to the nth degree, pointing out how completely untalented anybody on the stage is. I’ve seen Brit awards ceremonies hosted by Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood that are more natural than the lines passing for banter here.

And it keeps coming like this, for 50 fucking minutes! There’s the game where you guess the cooking times of microwave food – but not just any microwave food, no, it’s microwavable faggots and spotted dick. Which is funny because Alan Carr is, like, gay. It’s hilariously clever…! You can just imagine the Hoxton underling who they sent out to buy the props for the show – hawing with laughter in the frozen section of Netto as he foraged for the cheapest, nastiest and most gay-sounding foods he could find.

It finished, somebody won and no doubt the plebs were humiliated for ever thinking they could stand in Davina’s shadow. I don’t know what happened, I couldn’t watch the end. I felt dirty, and stained by seeping homophobia and Alan Carr’s misjudged sense of irony. The whole thing was a barrel of shit, a great big filthy barrel of shit – not fit for consumption by anybody, ever. It wasn’t clever, or multi-layered, or referential, or ironic or any of the usual defenses offered – it was just a bubbling, rotting, spewing barrel of shit.