Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Everybody loves a clown - so why don't you?

I have a problem with comedy. Did you know that? (Do you care?).

I can't really bring myself to watch new comedy shows when they first air as I can't bear the tension of waiting for something to make me laugh and the inevitable disappointment when it doesn't. No amount of personal recommendations will sway me either. But I'll catch something eventually and if it makes me chuckle I might stick with it, otherwise I'm off. I'm currently avoiding Flight Of The Conchords - alarm bells have been ringing since day one.

There are of course many comedies I do like. I didn't used to be like this (What does that say about the state of situation comedy?). As a child I loved Sykes, Some Mothers Do Ave 'Em, Dad's Army, The Good Life, Are You Being Served - comedies that remain as popular today as they've always been. I think I got jaded around the time of Life Without George and anything by Carla Lane. Her unfunny comedies have single-handedly ruined the sitcom - when the BBC realised they could get away with Bread, they realised could get away with any old shit, so it all went downhill from there.

I've had a little faith restored over the years, with things like The Office, Extras (despite not like Ricky Gervais the person) and Lead Balloon. But anything else is a chore, frankly.

Don't even start me on stand-up comedians. That tit Michael McIntyre seems to be the next hope. I met him and I thought he was ghastly. He really bombed out at the BAFTAs too. Not quite the star he thinks he is. I can't stand Michael Caine soundalike Sean Locke either, and I can't think of anything worse than going to a taping of a Radio 2 or Radio panel show in which Lucy Porter and Marcus Brigstocke battle for comedy supremacy. It's painful.

Don't get me wrong. I like a laugh - and obviously I'm absolutely hilarious - and I enjoy a lot of American sitcomes. Perhaps that's where it all went wrong. The US got good at it and we try emulate but can't cut it. I'd pick Seinfeld over My Family anytime. Wouldn't you?


Cocktails said...

I don't get stand-up comedy at all. The idea of paying to see someone stand in front of you and make you laugh is a bit odd.

Maybe I just don't have a sense of humour. I feel like a pariah over at Andrew Collins website because not only do I find Al Murray completely annoying, but the Collings and Herrin podcast spectacularly unentertaining as well.

Give me Seinfeld any day though. Or Arrested Development. Or Bewitched.

Clair said...

McIntyre is on Time Out's cover this week with the headline 'King of Comedy'. I don't think so. I think his rise and rise is due to the fact that he has a very powerful agent, rather than any particular talent. He's okay, but no better than a lot of top-level comics; Hal Cruttenden covers the same waterfront and is better.
I like the same current comedies as you on the telly, but nothing makes me laugh more than I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue on the radio; just a bunch of old duffers making each other laugh.

Peter H said...

McIntyre dies at Baftas with routine cobbling together sitcom titles. Graham Norton responds with "Michael McIntyre, One foot in the grave". Ovation cut from TV broadcast.

Bright Ambassador said...

I saw McIntyre at last year's Edinburgh Festival (somehere I could never imagine you going, ho ho!) he was good, but I doubt there's much more to him. That sort of observational comedy runs dry very quickly, just ask Peter Kay.

I love Peep Show, that never fails to entertain, The Old Guys (by the same writers as Peep Show but about two blokes in their sixties, the premise is still pretty much the same). I also like the new Reggie Perrin, if you don't analyse or compare it too much to the original it's quite good. Good as in it makes you laugh, which is what comedy's about, right?

I also think there's too much stuff transferring from radio to the TV. If I never see Frankie Boyle's fizzogg on telly again it'll be far too soon.

charliemingles said...

couldnt agree more sir. michael mcintyre is an annoying twat and not in the least amusing.

The permanent look on his face of 'I cant believe my fucking luck' sums it up.

and the americans do all comedy far better - from taxi right through to larry sanders and beyond.

that said, Ive recently discovered the inbetweeners which is excellent.

Dr Jane said...

Michael McIntyre is loathed and detested in our house. I've never seen him funny on anything. And he always seems to absolutely die. I look forward to the day he disappears from my TV forever - can't come soon enough!

Dan W said...

I must give Arrested Development the big It Is. Because it really is just about the best comedy ever made. Lots of stand ups are severly overrated though yes.

Planet Mondo said...

There are comics and actors, but not enough comic actors - that's why newer shows rarely work. They're either a vehicle for a comic or actor working with a dreary script and anonymous supporting cast..

All of the older shows you mentioned FC are based on the 'Gang Show' format, with a solid cast of characters (and why The Office and Royal Family work). Also look at the age of the actors in those shows - years of experience. And written to be theatrical, in an intimate way. Almost all of them could be taking place in a theatre

Even ITV managed to work some winners using the Gang Show system Rising Damp,Man About The House

I'd also add - Two Point Four Children - that's when the BBC lost the comedy plot.

Five-Centres said...

I did try with Arrested Development, but I can't get on with it at all. I only watched one ep, mind, so perhaps I should give it another go.

Yes, ITV did some cracking sitcoms, but that all went tits up with Duty Free and the like. And dont's ay Never The Twain is a classic because it really isn't.

You can't beat a bit of George and Mildred or On The Buses, and even Mind Your Language is amusing if you look at it in context. It used to get shown in Bahrain, where my parents lived in the 80s, and it was a huge hit.

Planet Mondo said...

Have you checked the dubbed-in-Spanish version of G & M it's atreat, and worth waiting for the last syllable in the trailer...

here you go..

Ishouldbeworking said...

I have NEVER heard of Michael MacIntyre. This sort of thing always happens to me. It's not even deliberate.

I used to love live comedy and went to hundreds of gigs many years ago, but the burgeoning cynicism of the business gradually made it a less and less appealing night out, and now I hardly ever go. I can still be cheered up for days by an evening with my 'Bottom' DVDs though. It's an antidote to my work.

Good Dog said...

Michael MacIntyre... what a smug twat! Whenever he has appeared on one the BBC's comedy panel shows it always looks like the other comedians can't stand him or the horribly casually racist jokes that he finds terribly, terribly funny.

Carla Lane should be sat in a room and shown episodes of Seinfeld while one person shouts, "This is what constitutes a funny sitcom!" as another repeatedly punches her in the face.