Posts Tagged ‘Comedy’

Quite Like: The Inbetweeners

April 21, 2009

The Inbetweeners E4

Nick T recommended this little gem – hidden away in E4’s dark and sweaty corner – and was largely ignored. But yesterday, lagging behind the times like the blinkered and dismissive old sod I am, I found the first series on Catch Up and tore through the first two back-to-back. And he’s right. Each episode of The Inbetweeners is a brief sojourn in bad taste with the odd moment of expertly-judged excess.

I think the reason it gets away with the relentless boner, wank, tit, shagging and shitting jokes is that it’s set in a school six-form where the predominant source of humour tend to be the sights, sounds and smells of bodily functions. What the writers get just right is the repetition inherent in the average 16 year old’s speech patterns. Especially the way one teenager will go beyond the realms of logic and through the wall of inanity and out the other side in their pursuit of comfirming their quarry is a bummer. Or a ‘bum-der’, which I learnt yesterday is a mixture of a ‘bummer’ and a ‘bender’.

At thirty years old I find The Inbetweeners funny, so logic dictates that the twelve year old me would most likely worship it, catching every episode on VHS for posterity, maybe even editing out the ad breaks to make the viewing process flow.

But 12 year olds don’t do those things these days. They probably sideload epishots onto their e-Phones and share them with friends in their emmy-sens messengers services, before going out and filming themselves happy-slapping emo-goths. The ‘orrible little shits.

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The Friday Question: Never Ever?

April 3, 2009

There’s a new show over on BBC4, along the lines of Room 101, wherein celebrities admit to never having partaken of four or five cultural experiences.

I’ve never seen any of the Godfather trilogy, read a Dan Brown novel or listened to the music of The Grateful Dead. The idea is – were I one of those famous celebs – that they would invite me on and I would try these things out – then rate them out of ten.

Much laughter would ring through the studio as I expressed my bafflement at the popularity of my experiences or raved about my newfound discovery.

We haven’t got the time or patience to have you try out the things you’ve never done, and we certainly can’t hang about whilst you bang on about whether you enjoyed yourself or not.

Probably best then just to own up to some popular pastime or entertainment you’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying so that we can all point and laugh at you – or tell you not to bother trying it, whatever it is.

So – what cultural phenomenon have you never, ever experienced?

Celebrity Juice

March 31, 2009

celebrity juice keith lemon fearne cotton holly willoughby ITV2

ITV’s not exactly ruled the panel show show format over the years and the odds are they’re not about to start with ITV2’s Celebrity Juice, hosted by Keith Lemon.

Keith Lemon is, of course, the man who used to don a neck-brace and play the giddy goat on the disconcertingly popular Bo Selecta, with its cavalcade of non-impersonations and irritating catchphrases. Since being dropped by Channel 4,  Leigh Francis (for it is he) has taken on the persona of Keith – a ginger moustache, casual dress and bleached hair combining with a pronounced Yorkshire accent to manifest this new character. And it’s a character based on nought.

It’s not a hilarious stereotype, it’s not a grotesque amplification of a known type and it’s not something so new and surreal that it makes you question the very fabric of comedy – it’s simply a man from Leeds, in a costume, dicking about. If some people find that funny, then good luck to them, but after five minutes of Celebrity Juice surely the joke wears thin even for those defective enough to have found it funny in the first place?

He says things like ‘bang tidy’ and makes jokes about tits and arses and cocks, but the only people laughing at the right points are the panel. The studio audience simply applaud for the full 25 minutes. Their applause doesn’t let up at any point throughout the show. Occasionally it may be overshadowed by ominous whooping at an ear-splitting volume, out of whack with the speech onstage, but the applause just goes on and on and pitilessly on so that your mind’s not allowed to rest. It’s a barrage of cretinous hand-clapping that upsets, unsettles and unnerves, and it lasts right up until the bitter end.

The regular team leaders are Holly Willoughby and Fearne Cotton. Holly and Fearne, the unthinking man’s crumpet. Holly & Fearne, pedestrian totty for the asinine bumbrains of this great nation. Holly and Fearne, corroding your eyeballs as they laugh at Keith Lemon’s jokes, playing along with his gags because they’ve been misinformed by their terrible agents that it might boost their profile – making it seem that they can laugh at themselves. They think they’re playing Ulrika to Lemon’s Vic Reeves – but haven’t registered that the chemistry is non-existent and that none of the players have any of the wit, likeability or humour of any of the Shooting Stars crew.

Speaking of Shooting Stars, Celebrity Juice is, at the core of it, a blatant attempt to thieve that format and hot-foot it over the channel-divide. But everything’s wrong. Where Shooting Stars would have, say, a musician, a page 3 girl, a 70s celebrity and a Radio 1 DJ, Celebrity Juice puts Rufus Hound on one team and Dick ‘n’ Dom on the other. And one of the Loose Women. Thomas Turgoose was also there in the episode I watched, but he’s exempt from criticism because he’s only nine years old.

With Fearne and Holly to head up the ranks, neither of whom have ever been paid for being funny, where the hell is the good stuff meant to come from? Shooting Stars had charismatic Ulrika, comedian Vegas, comedian Lamarr and intellectual Self to throw around the banter with the likes of John Peel and Jarvis Cocker, but this kind of talent is completely absent from Juice – Shooting Star’s runty, limping sibling.

Where are the bon mots? Wither the witticisms? When am I supposed to laugh?

The jokes aren’t erupting out of Hound’s mouth. Dick ‘n’ Dom look lost. The Loose Woman just shrieks and poor old Turgoose looks like he’s walked into the wrong studio. As a whole, the thing’s a gag-free stream of shouting, split-second clips and badly conceptualised stunts.

At the end, as a way of signing off, the losing team gets ‘gunged’ by the winning team, in a worrying flashback to the grim old days of Noel’s House Party. And when I got to that point, I have to admit I stifled a laugh at something onscreen.

A small, sinister snicker creeped out of the side of my gob and lingered as I rewound to watch the moment again and again. Lurching forward, Lemon slipped on some slime and fell on his arse, all the way over his tit. But it wasn’t the slapstick of the moment or the intentioned comedy of a clown that had me ho-ho-ho-ing. I was chuckling under my breath at the fact that his coxix-jarring somersault actually looked really, really fucking painful. Just desserts for the agonising infliction that wasted the preceding twenty-five minutes I’d say.

NewGush: Mitchell’s Corporate Moan

March 20, 2009

Click here.

A quite amusing video of David Mitchell slagging off Dragons’ Den, The Weakest Link and Come Dine With Me with aplomb.

I wonder how much he’s getting paid for these ‘Soap Box’ clips? Perhaps he could reserve his next rant for comedians who waste material on promoting cleaning products?

I suppose we’ve all got to make our dollar somehow.

NewsGush: Forlorn Horne Angry at Media Scorn

March 16, 2009

Afternoon!

Matthew Horne appeared on both BBC Breakfast and ITV’s This Morning today to talk about the sketch show he made with the other one. He was relaxed by the time he hit the kitchen in This Morning, possibly after a good fluffing from @Schofe, but on Breakfast he was a ball of fury, hitting out at his critics in the media.

His main concern was that the viewing figures were high, he said. Him and that other one (the big lad) made the show ‘for people and not for the media’. He said that the ‘backlash’ is not a concern and that people weren’t able to grasp the idea that these sketch ideas will develop over time.

I must have missed the frontlash.

Anyhow – I for one will be tuning in tonight to see how the Spiderman/Superman sketch develops. Will we see the bigger lad’s winky tonight, as well as his big arse? Will they make even more jokes about how the bigger one is not as thin as the thin one? And will we see the big one’s arse again?

One avenue I’d like them to explore is a gag about the weight of the bigger one – and perhaps have him falling over again, while grabbing his big belly and wobbling it about. Christ knows we haven’t seen anywhere near enough of that on our screens.

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.

One Minute Review: Horne & Corden

March 11, 2009

For those of you who didn’t catch it, a quick round up of all the gags featured in last night’s opening episode of Horne & Corden’s new sketch show. All thirteen jokes are present, including the successful one.

Joke 1
Introduction, with the actually quite amusing sight of a fat man being overexcited. Ruined by a damp punchline squib.

Joke 2
A fat man suddenly notices he is fat and throws away his burger.

Joke 3
A camp news reporter in Iraq, ripped directly from Steve Coogan’s portrayal of Pauline Calf.

Joke 4
A vaguely accurate David Brent impersonation.

Joke 5
Teachers show a class how to draw cocks. Potentially a good gag, ruined by the fact that no cock I ever saw on any exercise book looked like that, because they looked like this.

Joke 6
The perfume ad you’ve already seen that features a naked fat man.

Joke 7
A relay race in which a fat man can be seen trying to compete.

Joke 8
A man pushes another man over on his arse in a supermarket.

Joke 9
Superman chats to Spiderman. Spiderman is fat and we see his big, fat bottom.

Joke 10
A fat man is having sex and can’t finish up.

Joke 11
Whilst discussing strategy, an army officer asks if anyone has a Nokia charger. Eerily reminiscent of a Fast Show classic.

Joke 12
An alcoholic fat man humiliates his ex-schoolmate in front of his family.

Joke 13
Westcountry magicians do a dance routine, in the hope that it will be made funny by the fact that one of them is fat.

End Credits

It’s good to see BBC3 continuing with its schedule of rushed-out, underwritten and flimsy sketch shows. It’s looking like Horne & Corden is a worthy addition to that tradition. Roll on next week.

NewsGush: Let’s Dance for Comic Relief!

February 17, 2009

steve jones comic relief lets dance

Because Fame Academy is rubbish and Strictly Come Dancing is for old people, Comic Relief have invented a new format for 2009’s reality-performance strand. And this is it. It’s basically loads of famous but not that famous people dancing  to old songs from films. Acting the giddy goat for coin, essentially. ‘So open your purse’, they’ll say, ‘and spray us with sterling’.

And look who’s hosting! It’s only E102-charged, fringed twig Winkleman – daughter of the violently disagreeable Eve Pollard.

And who’s that beside her?

It’s that big lunk, Steve Jones. Steven ‘Berluddy’ Jones – the half bred offspring of a tree and a bull with damaged sperms. A lump of bum-muscle. An oafish, grinning tit, with his skinny tie and three-steps-behind-indie stylings. And YES. I would say that to his face. Before running away and jumping down a hole.

I can’t fucking wait!

So, who’s dancing? You asking?

I’ll tell you. The list is as follows, lovingly cut and pasted from this here press release:

Jo Brand, Robert Webb, Dick & Dom, Keith Lemon & Paddy McGuinness; Peter Jones, Duncan Bannatyne, Deborah Meaden from Dragons’ Den and Blue Peter presenters Tim Vincent, Anthea Turner, Mark Curry, Diana Louise Jordan, Peter Duncan, Janet Ellis and Helen Skelton. Also, the cast of Hollyoaks (names to be confirmed), chefs (Paul Rankin, Sophie Grigson, John Burton Race, Nancy Lam, Kevin Woodford, Sophie Michel, Tony Tobin, Reza Mohammad and Silvana Rowe), Les Dennis, Neil Fox, Angela Rippon and Nancy Sorrell

So, that’s seven ex-Blue Peters, three Dragons (where the hell is Caan? Lumbago got the better of him?), Jo Brand, Robert Webb, that bouncer off Phoenix Nights, those two morons off Saturday morning TV and the Bo Selecta man.

We’ve also got some Hollyoaks kids I won’t recognise, some chefs I might recognise, but only just, Neil ‘Foxy Doctor’ Fox, Vic Reeves’s missus, Les Den and Angela the Rippon.

It’s win win. The charity gets a boost, the celebs get fantastic PR and we, the lucky audience, get some quality entertainment packed with laughs, proficient presentation and funky moves.

Actually… now I think about it, is that technically a three way win? Can’t help but feel someone’s got the bum end of the deal…

Are you excited?