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Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Reviews: miscellaneous comedy stylings

You wouldn't think it would happen, least of all to me, but I may have finally hit my tolerance point for talking about myself. I know, I know! I thought my love for myself would last forever; I was wrong. Maybe it's time to start reviewing things in more earnest. If that's the direction I go in, I really hope you like British comedy. Really like it. Like it as much as I do. Which is a lot. To the extent that the actual quality of the programme is all but irrelevant.

I've been watching a lot of Mongrels lately ('a lot' here meaning 8 episodes, as that is in fact all there has been). It's like a slightly more charming, class-conscious version of South Park, with equal parts puppets and Mighty Boosh thrown in for good measure.

I recommend it if you like comedy that pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable without actually tearing the boundaries down. You see, while it's perfectly happy to address paedophilia, cross-species love, date rape etc. (often through song), you won't come away from watching it with your life changed (other than there being half an hour less of it before your inevitable death).

If, however, you fancy yourself as a member of the intelligentsia (as of course I do; I'm an English and Creative Writing student, superiority comes with the territory), you could do a lot worse than to check out That Mitchell and Webb Look.

It's a sketch show, so of course it's character driven, but rather than create charicatured monstrosities that make you want to scratch "Little Britain sucks" on your own eyeball just so that you remember to never, EVER watch it again, TMAWL reminds me with every sketch of myself. Me trying to fit in at parties. Me getting irate at the grammar failings of others. Me cowering underground after a non-specific Event destroys civilisation as we know it (with the apparent exception of game-shows). Even the beautifully simple "Get Me Hennimore!" sketches play on my assumed nostalgia for classic sitcoms like Dad's Army, and Are You Being Served.

I also watched some of the Armstrong and Miller show, but I'm annoyed with them because of their Enlightenment sketches, so I won't talk about them tonight.

Don't worry, I'm sure we'll be back on me soon (rejoice, peasants!); but in the meantime let me know if there's something you'd like me to review. Even if it's something you just can't be bothered to watch yourself, but feel like you should. By all means outsource that unpleasant duty to me, because I have nothing but time these days and I need to keep myself busy. Otherwise I start thinking about the Event.

Talk to you soon, and stay indoors,

PS If you do set me homework, I might not do it. Things might come up. I might get interesting again. Barring that, though, go nuts.

PPS Do not go nuts. Recommend me things to watch, by all means, but please remain as sane as you can.


  1. Booo! I cannot watch the clip of TMAWL because of US/UK internet segregation. Each region still sends the other to the back of the bus? Why can't we all just get along?

    The Mongrels bit was funny, though. The music felt like a mix between Kylie Minogue and Lady Gaga. Are there silly dog puns in that show? Was that, perhaps, Collie Minogue?

    I know many old British shows like Are You Being Served, Vicar of Dibley, Father Ted, Waiting for God, Fawlty Towers, AbFab, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, and of course... Red Dwarf. Mostly because our Public Broadcasting System considers it educational to show anything at all that was created in the UK.

    Sadly, though, I am years behind what's current comedy in the UK, save that I know a new series of Red Dwarf is coming. Thus, I look forward to being educated on the subject!

  2. I don't think I've ever even heard of Waiting for God! Do you prefer the surreal stuff or the socially awkward stuff? I guess I'm asking, would you go for Monty Python or the Office? Because Mitchell and Webb have done a lot of both, and I'd like to know whether to direct you toward Peep Show or not.

    Fry and Laurie holds up so, so well. I think it's like Morecambe and Wise in that it'll stay fresh for decades. Good taste, that man.

  3. You've never heard of Waiting For God? Pfft.

    Mongrels has been excellent, and I even tolerated the Family Guy cutaways. Nelson is an excellent character, and it's a very well disguised social mores sitcom. Very traditional stuff, in a good way.

    Some other things you may like (but probably won't, so don't buy them on DVD or anything) - If You See God Tell Him and Ever Decreasing Circles.

    I had a bit of a Fry & Laurie week over on my blog ( )last week, with some clips other may not have seen.

  4. Simon! Yes, I did see the clips you shared, fantastic as always. Tell me, is there anything new you think I ought to check out? I'm quite enjoying this now!

  5. Last week, I commented (on Twitter) that a cow-orker didn't know the Dead Parrot Sketch, and that it ought to be part of the National Curriculum. I just wondered what comedy moments do you think should be included in such a syllabus?

    Obviously some Python. (Dead Parrot Sketch, Lumberjack song, Most of Holy Grail) But also some Hitch-Hikers-Guide.
    But which of classics really make the cut, and which contemporary ones are so quotable that we should all know them?

  6. Ooh, good questions H! Ok here are 3 classic bits I think everybody should know:

    - Don't tell him, Pike!
    - Concentrate, Dougal: These are small, those are far away.
    - Just stick your underpants on your head, two pencils up your nose, and say 'wibble.'

    And here are 3 newer bits I wish everybody knew:
    - You will NOT use the word party as a verb in my shop!
    - Hans, are we the baddies?
    - Genetically, paedophiles have more genes in common with crabs than they do with you and me.

  7. Ha! your blogs continue to make my eyes happy.

    I LOVE Mongrels.
    Such an improvement on the usual painfully wooden set up - pun - set up - pun - yawn - die routine of 95% of British comedy.

    There've been a few good ones lately, though; Inbetweeners and IT Crowd and of course Peep Show have been excellent. It's a good sign, I think apart from a few hidden gems and The Office, British comedy's been appalling for years, since the days of those classics you guys listed. (used to love Waiting For God)

    Be warned about that new Red Dwarf. It's awful!
    Series 3-6 FTW!

    I kept meaning to watch TMAWL, but missing it. Some of what I did catch I wasn't that fussed on, but the Sir Digby Chicken Caesar sketches are amazing!

    Oh, and if you ever, ever feel the need to rant about how terrible Little Britain is, please know that I will always be there for you!

    Talking of comic 'genius' that makes me want to stove my own face in, I'm loving the Catherine Tate-dissing going on in Mongrels!
    And that Paul Ross agreed to mock himself in it :-D
    I think Carly's my favourite character in that - I'm sure everyone knows someone like her... well, only not a pigeon.

  8. :-O


  9. Hi, just stumbled across your blog and, while this is obviously several months after you posted this, I had to see if you liked a coupled of things...
    Are you a fan of Stewart Lee at all?
    If so, or even if not, its definitely worth checking out some of his and Richard Herring's TV shows from the mid/late 90's (Fist of Fun and This Morning with Richard not Judy)
    Recently the HBO sitcom Eastbound and Down is pretty good in a weird and inappropriate way.
    Also what has really annoyed you in TV comedy recently? I'm going to suggest two BBC crimes; Horne & Cordon getting a sketch show; and Coming of age, which has been given another BBC3 series. If an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters could write the complete works of Shakespeare in a finite amount of time they should be able to knock out Coming of Age in about 7 1/2 minutes.


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