Tuesday, 22 January 2008

More BBC Threesome

Some more details on the BBC3 Revamp we mentioned earlier. Chortle have done some more digging on the Comedy content.

Other comedy tidbits to look out for include Trexx and Flipside, a "multi-channel sitcom" about Hip Hop. Although what will be "Multi Channel" has not been revealed. Another, Coming Of Age, has been written by 19 year old First Year student Tim Dawson, although early reports have cast it as a proto-Two Pints, which frankly we probably don't need. There's also another sketchshow called Scallywagga.

Feel it closing in, feeling it closing in

The unrelenting and unavoidable move to crush analogue in all its forms (It's called the 'Digital Switchover') continues apace, with leading high street electronics now only stocking televisions with built in Digital TV. It's apparently called future proofing, and combined with the death of the video recorder and the cassette tape, is just another line drawn under the appealing hiss of the analogue age.

There are those still keeping the home fires burning bright and resisting the digital revolution though: Some people still need a Black and White TV Licence.

Unfortunately once Analogue telly is switched off their bill goes up over 300% as a set-top box will automatically count as colour TV. Which seems a bit hard, as people who only have a black and white telly are probably the ones who can least afford their bills to triple.

BBC Threesome

BBC 3, the channel that bought you Can Fat Teens Hunt, are aiming to revolutionise the concept of Television as we know it, or at least that’s what they’d have us believe by the tone of controller Danny Cohen over at Media Guardian.

Apparently the channel will ‘Simulcast’ (a point right there for anyone playing Bullshit Bingo: The Media Edition) all of its programming on ‘Multiple Platforms’. Which actually means “it’ll be on the internet at the same time it’s on the telly”.

Give them their dues, this genuinely is an innovation in British TV. No Channel outside of rolling news has dared to broadcast directly on the web, although it does feel a little like the Beeb are Guinea-pigging the concept with the channel they risk least with.

Cohen’s breathless excitement is evident:

"At BBC3 we should be known for pioneering risk, and be obsessed with all things new - new talent, new programmes, and a new relationship between television and the internet.

The thinking behind this rebrand of the channel is that we have, in effect, created a BBC3 world in which our content can move seamlessly between TV, online and mobile.

We have a fantastic lineup of programmes and we are going to make them available wherever young people want them."

Which is all well and good until you look at the new schedule, which despite a fancy new logo (we’ll miss those little blob things) doesn’t feel all that new and risky to us: docu-soaps on single Mums, teen pregnancy and modelling, make over shows “with a twist”, returning American imports like Heroes, a refresh of the old-as-the-hills comedy variety show with The Wall, and a new series of Gavin and Stacey, which admittedly did deserve a second go as it’s quite fine. All of which could probably be pretty decent in their own place, but are hardly unfamiliar BBC3 ground.

There a few genuine innovations. Lily Allen And Friends could actually be quite good…Lily herself is an engaging enough personality, although they’ve been cagey about the format so we’ll hold off until we’ve seen it. The Wrong Door is being described as a “sketch show with CGI”, but quite what that means is anyone’s guess. It won’t be as good as Modern Toss, that’s for sure. Then there’s this

“New entertainment format Upstaged will be a mixture of talent show, stamina and social networking, which Cohen has described as "risky".”

Which sounds horrible.

Best of all is the drama:

Six drama pilots will include Phoo Action, written by Tank Girl creator Jamie Hewlett; thriller The Things I Haven't Told You; Being Human, a tale of a vampire, ghost and werewolf who share a house; and Mrs In-Betweeny, created by Shameless writer Paul Abbott and Caleb Ranson.

The proposition of a drama by the man that draws Gorillaz definitely spikes our interest and the Vampire thing could well be good.

BBC3 then. There’s more to it than crap docusoaps, Two Pints... and Doctor Who Confidential, and if you’re too lazy to leave the computer and go to the Telly you don’t have to. It’s the future.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Falling in love with Falling Off The Lavender Bridge

All hail the first great album of 2008: Lightspeed Champion’s Falling Off The Lavender Bridge. It’s out today, it’s far better than it has any right to be. Buy it, enjoy it, and then go and buy anything you can find by Emmy the Great, as her backing vocals here are half the charm.

This time next week Rodders, we may not be millionaires but we will own series One & Two of Only Fools... providing we buy the Sun

The Sun starts giving away the first two series of Only Fools And Horses today (Monday 21st

January). They’re free, but there is a moral cost: buying the Sun.

It does give John Sullivan the chance to explain the post millennial Christmas specials:

“A lot of people ripped into them. But what they didn’t understand was that it wasn’t meant to be the actual show. We weren’t being very serious.”

Are we really supposed to believe that Sullivan wrote those shows meaning them to sub-standard? Or do you think he might, just might, be trying to cover the fact that despite the efforts of those involved they simply weren’t as good.

Still, as has we have pointed out before, Del Boy falling through the bar is the ultimate pinnacle of comedic achievement according to most of the British public, and who are we to argue with them?

Friday, 18 January 2008

Lies, lies, Damned Lies

More lies and moral filth coming out of the BBC as television continues to be to modern media what the Ottoman Empire was to 19th Century Europe. But this time, we don’t know who is to blame.

Following Blue Petergate, Blue Petergate II, Comic Reliefgate, 6Musicgate and more, it turns out there is still deception bubbling under over at Broadcasting house. Of course the BBC are trying their best to stamp it all out and make sure we find out from them, rather than from some irritating Tab. Next week we’ll find out where the blame lies. What could it be? Was the recent Two Pints live episode really entirely CGI? Is Radio 5 Live actually being broadcast out of Bombay using talented and under paid Indian impressionists? Did John Simm not get transported back to the 70’s to fight crime after all? Is it true that Dot Cotton is really a do-gooding Babyshambles Fan called June? Where will it all end?

Secretly most people will probably agree with Russell T Davies in discussion with Mark Lawson earlier this week (available on the iPlayer until Wednesday, heartily recomended) when he described himself as being actually quite impressed with the resourcefulness of overworked studio telly-peeps making snap decisions on live TV. And if Russell says so, it must be true. He is the last honest man in showbiz.

Let’s face it, the BBC’s earnest attempts to cut out the noddys, apologise to the Queen and restore some of that seeped faith are all very arguable, but most reasonable people were probably happier when the wool was pulled over their eyes. And besides, the problems over at ITV (X-Factor Gate, GMTVgate, late night phone in Quiz-O-Gate, Ant and Dec o’gate) are far far worse.

The end is nigh, we’re all doomed.

Newton Fuckerner

In a year that was characterised by missing blonde children, the unavoidable slide towards world religous war and general unpleasantness Newton Faulkner is still the worst thing about 2007.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Brit Pop Now Again

It's not often we get to name check Damon Albarns seminal 1995 showcase twice in the same week as a headline, but it just fits so well.

Anyway, the latest in a never ending use of the headline "Oasis Vs Blur- The Rematch" (will it ever end?) has popped up in todays Daily Star. Apparently The Weakest Link are keen to do a Britpop reunion with the stars of the 90's indie scene. A supposed BBC "inside source" has said.

"If we can pull this off it would be unbelievable. It’s been over a decade since this lot have even been in the same room as each other. To see them lined up next to one another with Queen of Mean Anne Robinson giving them stick would be amazing. It’s sure to ignite old rivalries, which would be TV gold. Noel admits he’s a Weakest Link fan."

Let's face it. It's never going to happen. According to The Star, the Weakest Link are after:

Rick Witter (Shed Seven)
Justine Frischman (Elastica)
Jarvis Cocker (Pulp)
Damon Albarn (Blur)
Alex James (Blur)
Noel Gallagher (Oasis)
Liam Gallagher (Oasis)
Gaz Coombes (Supergrass)
James Dean Bradfield (Manic Street Preachers).

Can anyone realistically see this happening? Nevermind the Gallaghers- Damon, Justine and Brett in the same room? How is that ever going to be likely. Damon is hardly game for a laugh and hardly needs the appearance fee. The Gallagher Brothers won't go near it. Alex might do it for a lark, but it would depend on his mood. JDB would hopefully have more integrity.

It's not going to replace Neighbours very well, now, is it?

For what it's worth, Thatjoke is predicting that a Britpop Weakest Link special will happen, however the line up will be closer to this:

Rick Witter
Gaz Coombes
One of Tony McCarrol/Guigsy/Bonehead/Andy White
Alex James
Louise Wener
Nicky Wire (he won't be able to resist)
Sonia From Echobelly
John Power

For what it's worth, we think The Wire would hammer it.

Fossilised mobile content at The Gym

In a surprisingly savvy move (has Michael Grade actually started expanding his imagination past the ad breaks?) ITV have announced a new multi-platform comedy series, The Gym, to start this Monday.

With the frankly unfathomable mind of Boosh compatriot Rich Fulcher at the controls there’s definite potential for this to be special. According to Media Guardian, the show is set in a Gym and will feature such Fulcherish inventions as Eduardo The Warrior Cleaner and a buff personal trainer called…Gee. Also on board is Watson & Oliver/Plus One’s Ingrid Oliver.

The show will be downloadable on mobiles, with an online version available a week after. Whether it’ll get a proper telly showing is unclear, but we all know TV is a dead medium (regardless of what the BBC say) so it doesn’t matter really. (UPDATE According to BBCi it will indeed be on TV, dead medium or not) It’s a bold move by the channel, whose comedy output tends to be a bit piss poor and everyman (although we have great hopes for ITV2’s Laura, Ben and Him), and whose grasp of next generation Webbyness has not really stretched past scamming school girls out of SMS cash, oh and Hot Desk. Frankly it’s hard to trust a channel whose media player doesn’t work on Macs, in a time when the BBC iPlayer is kicking ass so much.

It’s also worth mentioning that mobile led video content has never really taken off, although that might be because it’s often not very good, as the Red Dwarf ‘Mobisodes’ (The Gym is apparently a ‘Mobicon’) have shown. Still, Rich Fulcher’s anarcho-silliness is a good indication that something special might, just might, happen here.

Of course baring in mind Fulcher’s occasional tendancy to misfire and the fact that, well, this is ITV after all, it might not be all that.

It’s an interesting move though.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

All Telly needs is Love, Money and more John Simm

Interesting and enlightening view from inside the BBC courtesy of Director General Mark Thompson, over on Guardian Unlimited, although it really only makes two points. Number one is

“We’re not liars honest, TV is still great, we make great TV, telly is the best, Telly is King, long live Telly, stop complaining, we’re clearly ace, we love Telly and so do you so stop moaning. Watch telly, because telly is brilliant. You should trust the Telly. Telly telly telly telly.”

Well that’s what we got from it anyway. Point number two:

“Give us more money. MORE MONEY! We need money. There’s not enough money. Stop complaining and give us money. I want to rub my naked BBC telly-flavoured body in the publics greasy cash. We need more money, give us money now. Telly is great, telly telly telly”

Okay, his actually words were

"There' s no point crying crocodile tears about less public service broadcasting," he said. "What quantity of public service broadcasting do you want and how is it to be paid for?"

But we think our version gets the point across better.

Tied into both of these points seems to be a sincere attempt to change the way Aunty Beeb deals with politics, giving it a more even handed and positive slant and do for Politics what Doctor Who and Life On Mars have done for drama. Which, if extended logically, means involving John Simm as much as possible. Also worth noting that Doctor Who has killed off the Prime Minister and over-turned the Government in all three of it’s post-comeback seasons.

Make of that what you will.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Brit Pop Now: Everything is Average Now Days

Please note Thatjoke have read no other Blogs on this subject to avoid contamination. It's all out own work. Many thanks.

Well it's back patting time again :the Brit Award nominations have been announced, and if nothing else they prove what a weak year it has been for music in general and british music in particular. In the words of Bart Simpson... "Let's start at the top and take it away..."

British Male Solo Artist
Jamie T
Mark Ronson
Newton Faulkner
Richard Hawley

Do you see what we mean? What is there to inspire here? Newton fucking Faulkner? Good God, do we really need a British Jack Johnson? Jamie T is a worthy mention but smacks of tokenism. Hawley is obviously wonderful, but doesn't stand a chance. Ronson will probably take it, but he doesn't deserve too: no-one that talented, well connected, wealthy, successful and good looking deserves more prize.

Will Win:
Mark Ronson
Should Win: Hawley
Awol: McCartney's album and output this year have been good enough to earn him a place with the real nominations.

British Female Solo Artist
Bat For Lashes
Kate Nash
KT Tunstall
Leona Lewis
PJ Harvey

Slightly better fare here. Poor Natasha BFL doesn't stand a chance, but her album easily outsrips any here. PJ and KT are making the numbers up, it's between Leona and Kate, and will depend on whether the panel fancy going popularist or not. Leona probably deserves it though.

Will Win: Leona Lewis
Should Win: Bat For Lashes

British Group
Arctic Monkeys
Girls Aloud
Kaiser Chiefs
Take That

Again it's hardly earth shaking news is it? Arctic Monkeys probably won't get it, they're way to 2006, Editors don't deserve it really. They're not good enough. Girls Aloud, obviously, rock. Kaiser Chiefs are nowhere in the same league. Take That should walk with it. Their comeback has been one of the best thought through operations in recent years and the waves of genuine pubic affection shuld keep them afloat. Damn it, they deserve it.

Will Win: Take That
Should Win: Take That
Awol: Aside from the hundreds of smaller acts deserving of a mention it's a surprise to not see Muse here. This is the year they headlined Wembley after all. Also of ne is the lack of Bloc Party.

British Album
Arctic Monkeys - 'Favourite Worst Nightmare'
Leona Lewis - 'Spirit'
Mark Ronson - 'Version'
Mika - 'Life In Cartoon Motion'
Take That - 'Beautiful World'

Has it really been this weak? Arctic Monkeys don't deserve it. Their record was too willfully awkward (as are they come to think of it), Leona's wasn't strong enough all the way through, Mika's was just irritating with the exception of maybe 'Billy Brown'. Which means it's between Ronson and Take That. Take That's album was a decent all-rounder, and it's a fair bet they'll take it. For sheer freshness though it should go to Ronson. Actually didn't that Take That album come out in 2006?

Will Win: Take That
Should Win: Mark Ronson
Awol: GoodBooks released the best indie-pop album of the year, Bloc Party also had a good chip at it.

British Breakthrough Act
Bat For Lashes
Kate Nash
Leona Lewis

Actually the toughest of this years to judge. Which is why Radio 1 listeners are doing it for them. Leona's been the more successful, obviously, but Kate Nash has more pluck. Klaxons have the best album of the lot, but Bat For Lashes is a trendier name to drop. Its tight.

Will Win: Kate Nash
Should Win: Klaxons
Awol: GoodBooks again!

British Live Act
Arctic Monkeys
Kaiser Chiefs
Take That

So unsure are the judges on this one, it's been handed over to Radio 2 to deal with. Or maybe it's because no-one really cares about it. Hey who. Despite Klaxons ability to rip any venue a new electro arse-hole, and Take That's big-production-well-loved-cuddlyness this one has to be a shoe in for Muse.

Will Win: Muse
Should Win: Muse

British Single
The Hoosiers - 'Worried About Ray'
James Blunt - '1973'
Kaiser Chiefs - 'Ruby'
Kate Nash - 'Foundations'
Leona Lewis - 'Bleeding Love'
Mark Ronson - 'Valerie' featuring Amy Whinehouse'
Mika - 'Grace Kelly'
Mutya Buena - 'Real Girl'
Sugababes - 'About You Now'
Take That - 'Shine'

Actually, re-assesing the list slightly 7 of them are actually quite a decent jobs. It should go to Nash, 'Foundations' is as brittle and brilliant and bittersweet as you'll find anywhere. Probably go to Leona though...this is a public vote, and she's good at them.

Will Win: Leona Lewis- 'Bleeding Love'
Should Win: 'Foundations'
Manic Street Preachers- 'Your Love Alone Is Not Enough'

International Male Solo Artist
Bruce Springsteen
Kanye West
Rufus Wainwright
Can anyone bring themselves to care?

Will Win: Kanye
Should Win: Rufus! Rufus! Rufus!

International Female Solo Artist
Alicia Keys
Kylie Minogue
See above.

Will Win:
Should Win: Bjork

International Group
Arcade Fire
Foo Fighters
Kings Of Leon
The White Stripes

Predictable the best bunch of the crop, although who thought putting Eagles here was going to work? Dad's everywhere will approve, perhaps that's the point. They have tickets at the O2 to sell after all.

Will Win: Foo Fighters
Should Win: Arcade Fire
Dresdon Dolls

International Album
Arcade Fire - 'Neon Bible'
Eagles - 'Long Road Out Of Eden'
Foo Fighters - 'Echoes Silence Patience'
Kings Of Leon 'Because Of The Times'
Kylie Minogue - 'X'

See above franly. Foo's album was surely too weak to see them through this though? Especially against KoL/Arcade Fire?

Will Win: Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Should Win: Arcade Fire
White Stripes- Icky Thump.

Outstanding Contribution Award
Paul McCartney

Poor thumbs-aloft, eh? He could have won this any year since they started it, and when do they give it to him? In the year he actually sells enough records and does enough to warrant both a best album and a best male nomination. Instead they give him "irrelevant as a recording artists but used to great" award (appropriately given to Oasis last year). It's hard to think of anyone more worthy of an outstanding commitment to music award, but it still feels a little late coming. One of the proper awards would have een a much more fitting tribute. Still, may as well get it over with while he's still with us.

WIll anyone actually bother to watch this year?

Jim Davidson is offensive. ITV are not.

Cockish alcaholic and homophobe Jim Davidson may have said some offensive things on Hell's Kitchen, but OFCOM have ruled that ITV was allowed to show them, say Media Guardian. And quite right too. The more people who get to see what an utter utter tit the man is the better.

Brian Dowling is a hero for being the first ever openly Gay Kids TV presenter in Britain. He's also had a bad time lately, with the Golden Globes being cancelled and all.

Where as Jim Davidson is a shitbag who gives Star Trek fans a bad name.

And isn't funny. Ever. And you laugh at his jokes, that means you must hate Gays too. Or clearly insane, like Teresa Young.

He's not the messiah etc etc

Joining the Amanda Palmer and Flight of the Conchords albums in a list of “things we’re really looking forward to in 2008” is Chris Morris’ directorial debut. According to the Sunday Times, the film is about the innate ridiculousness of terrorism, and according to us in likelihood will bulldoze through a wall of dearly held taboos, inflame the Daily Mail (again), and of course be very very funny.

According to slick-haired one behind BrassEye, The Day Today and Nathan Barley:

“There is this Dad’s Army side of terrorism and that’s what this film is exploring…This film will hopefully get over that terrorists do what we all do, they discuss the mundane, and plan things that sometimes then go wrong. People, that is viewers, are longing to laugh at terrorism.” (Sunday Times)

He’s probably right as well. It worked pretty well in Team America: World Police. Morris will apparently direct, but not star in the film. And with the closest thing British comedy has to a living genius behind the wheel, this could very well be our generations Life Of Brian.

Friday Night TV Review

Long gone are the days of Friday being the flagship comedy night for all television everywhere. BBC2 have abandoned their comedy output all together. Only Channel 4 still take the once hallowed evening seriously, and even they no longer have the sheen that used to scream EVENT! when Spaced, Father Ted and new episodes of Friends would debut. In fact with the lack of focus, we spent the evening flicking between BBC1 and ITV1, a fact the 16 yr old me would have been agog at.

Still, what’s becoming a continual delight is Jennifer Saunders’ Jam and Jerusalem, currently keeping what will always be thought of as the “Fools and Horses” slot warm until the Beeb shits out another series of My Family. It’s witty, it’s warming, Sue Johnston is wonderful, Jennifer herself keeps mostly out of site but when she surfaces it’s to be waspish and brilliant, Dawn French clearly has a ball every time, and the more Mrs Doyle on telly the better.

ITV are wading in too, with the second episode of Moving Wallpaper, which will go down in history as a great-idea-done-badly or a fundamentally flawed attempt at originality. Either way there’s something to applaud in the attempt if not the execution. Avalon TV came back all guns blazing with Al Murray’s Happy Hour. Talking properly about this will mean a quick slip into the first person, so apologies for that in advance. I never used to like Al Murray much, I thought he was lowest-common-demonolater pap with no real jokes. I kind of beer-swilling Bobby Ball. Then I started working for Avalon (I don’t any more. Don’t hold it against me.) and went to see him do a warm up gig for 50 people in a tiny theatre. Virtually the whole thing was off the cuff, it was brilliantly witty, the man clearly has one of the fastest working minds in the business. I was genuinely impressed. When sticking to the material it all feels a little old, but when he lets fly, when that brain is allowed to work at full tilt, sieved through a character it knows back to front, Al Murray can really justify his popularity. His chat show is alas a little too much prep and not enough fly to really work well, and post-Parky if ITV are looking for a new flagship chat-king they need to look harder. But he does the job.

Of course it doesn’t really matter…as devoted as Murray’s fan base is (and trust me it’s both massive and a bit obsessed. I’ve seen the fan mail.) it was never going to contend with Wossy, whose BBC1 show overlaps for half an hour with the’ Guvnors. No doubt it will please many at the BBC to stick one to Avalon, particularly in the realm of chat shows. But when you get down to it there are few that can compare to Jonathon Ross anyway. In 2008 it’s the perfect chat format, and regardless of guests it’s always funny. That the guests themselves were all A-Grade or achingly hip (Tom Hank, Chris Rock, Hannah from Primeval, Reverend and The Makers) while Murray’s were all chat-show faithfuls of yesteryear (Barbara Windsor), irritatingly bland (James Blunt) or annoying tab-trash Reality TV nonsense (Cerys, Marc Bannerman) probably didn’t hurt either.

I miss proper Friday night comedy.

Friday, 11 January 2008

"Oi! Dave – Eton Lads’ is 300 miles"

And just when you've been depressed by the British public, they cheer you up again.

David Cameron has been sent packing from Salford Lad's Club. Not that the local Torys seemed to notice.

That Joke Definately Isn't Funny Anymore.

Good God! If anything can put a dampener on the Conchord-infused bubble of love surrounding us today it’s further evidence of the Great British Publics piss-poor taste in just about everything.

The BBC website is reporting that a poll conducted by onepoll has put Only Fools And Horses as the show the public most want to bring back, further proving my belief that Del Boy Falling Through The Bar is the zenith of comedic achievment in most peoples eyes. The full results are below.

1) Only Fools and Horses
2) Friends
3) Fawlty Towers
4) Brookside
5) Sex and the City
6) Buffy the Vampire Slayer
7) Monty Python
8) The Krypton Factor
9) Big Breakfast
10) Absolutely Fabulous

Honestly, when will people learn? Lets put aside the sacred cows in the top 3 for now and deal with the lower regions of the list.

Absolutely Fabulous
Really? Did anyone who voted in this actually see the revived version of Ab-Fab a few years back? It had lost all of its bite and its silliness felt over done rather than glorious. Besides which Jennifer Saunders is currently working on infinitely more interesting fare in the under-rated Life And Times of Vivian Vyle, and especially in the current series of Jam and Jereuselam, which has quietly become –thanks in no small part to Sue Johnson and David Mitchell- one of the best bittersweet comedies on TV.
Chance of a come back: probably for a special here and there.
Deserves a come back: Nope.

Big Breakfast.
An interesting one this. Breakfast telly is awful just now and Channel 4 have given up all together. In its day the BB was one of the best things on all week, especially in the Evans/Roslin and Vaughn/Van Outen hey days. The replacement show, Ri:se was dreadful from the outset, and the brave revamp proved the train had long since sailed. Saying that, what’s on instead? GM:TV has its steady Mumsy viewership, but its yucky. BBC1 do a visual version of the Today Programme that isn’t as good, and C4 themselves just show Friends.
Chance of a come back: Unlikely
Deserves a comeback: If it’s done right it could work.

The Krypton Factor
Let’s not dwell on this, as it’s not comedy. However it would make certain older sketches funny again.
Chance of a comeback: Fair actually.
Deserves a comeback: Why not?

Monty Python
I refer you to 1999’s Python Night.
Chance of a comeback: Unlikely. Plus TJ says it can’t be done.
Deserves a comeback: Something’s should just be left alone. Maybe a live show would be fun though.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Would probably work fine. Joss Whedon’s “Season 8” comic books certainly seemed popular.
Chance of a comeback: Maybe.
Deserves a comeback: Spose.

Sex And The City
Surely disqualified as there’s a film in production?

I know, lets bring it back, right. Only, instead of just the show, they can do an E4 sister show where a fictionalised version of Phil Redmond –played by, oh I don’t know, Harry Enfield- can talk about the production. It’s genius, genius I tell ya.
Chance of a comeback: Nah.
Deserves a comeback: Nah

Okay, now we get to the meat of it…

Fawlty Towers
Again, somethings should just be left be. It was pretty much perfect, another series can only be a bad thing. The show was recently bought back as a corporate video. Oddly it’s not made its way into the public sphere.
Chance of a comeback: Well there’s a Divorce to pay for, and the BBC would pay for through the nose, so…maybe.
Deserves a comeback: Only on one condition. The only way it would work is if ITV re-do the Audience With Alf Garnet format from a few years back. An Audience With Basil Fawlty? That would be ace.

Friends, the perennially likeable collusus of modern comedy is probably the most influential TV show on the speech, habits and attitudes of young people ever. Maybe something so powerful shouldn’t be allowed back. Besides, it was all wrapped up quite well wasn’t it?
Chance of a comeback: Well, the cast are hardly doing well in films are they?
Deserves a comeback: Probably not.

Only Fools And Horses.
And you have to just release a weary sigh. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with Fools and Horses. Genuinely it was a funny show. But how many times can you reanimate it? Since going out of regular production in 1990 each progressive reanimation has been further proof of the law of diminishing returns. They managed to squeeze out one iconic moment in the Batman and Robin sketch, and making them rich was a nice way of closing it up, but it hasn’t had the magic, especially since Buster Merryfield died.
Chance of a comeback: Inevitably.
Deserves a comeback: Not on your life.

Still, just to show that not every format has been done and dusted here’s the That Joke Isn’t Funny Top Ten of shows that could and should be brought back:

1) Brass Eye
2) Shooting Stars
3) Big Train
4) Futurama (okay, it sort of is)
5) Alan Partridge
6) The Good Life
7) Red Dwarf
8) Fist Of Fun
9) The League Of Gentleman
10) My Hero. Only joking.

Note I didn’t mention Spaced. Some things are sacred.

Conchord Flies Again

Occasionally a piece of news comes along that makes your soul glow, and you spend the rest of the day floating along in a bubble of simpering happiness, chirruping occasionally in a bemused and delighted expression of child-like joy.

Flight of the Conchords are making an album.

Okay, you might argue that given the success of their HBO series an album was unavoidable. After all they released one in 2002 already. Not to mention their Radio 2 series, which is well worth tracking down. Then there was the EP they released in August on Sub Pop, that’s been nominated for a Grammy. In fact if they hadn’t done an album is would probably be more newsworthy than the inevitable one that’s actually being produced. But still, let’s not ruin it. The fact that the label that released the first Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana material are releasing a record from the best comedy-music project anywhere in the world is exciting enough.

Hopefully the album will be new material, as much like the position the Boosh were in before they started on their second series, most of the songs from season one have been knocking around in one form or another for years, good as they are. A reasonable guess would be the songs from the album will form the basis of those is Season 2, which begins filming later this year.

It’s actually harder to think of an album due out this year that we’ll be looking forward to more.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Lager and Live please Bar Steward

Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps is a show it’s pretty hard to love, but for all its faults it gets a far harder time than it deserves at the hands of pundits and snobby comedy fans alike. It’s really not all that bad, and there’s generally a handful of genuine laughs in every episode.

That said, I’m not sure how wise bringing it back is, even with the added gimmick of that American TV-staple the live show.

Granted this could actually be a lot of fun, it’s almost certainly going to be the best episode of the new series and it does actually achieve the impossible: It makes 2 Pints… event television for the first time ever. There’s not many as can claim they saw that one coming. When Will and Grace attempted the Live show it was a hoot, which isn’t an adjective I use widely. I'm not 100% it's even an adjective,

It’s certainly hard to think if another current British Sitcom that could make use of the live format. Possibly The IT Crowd could pull it off. For it’s faults 2 Pints does have a sense of barely held together anarchy.

That said it’s hard to see how it deserves yet another series, Live or not. Despite the likeable cast and aforementioned couple of strong laughs per episode, 2 Pints is patchy as hell. Half the things attempted don’t work, and every conceivable format twist has been thrown at it already. What’s more the stuff brought in to make it more interesting has all been nicked from other sitcoms. There’s been a musical episode (Scrubs), they killed the entire cast in the last episode (The Young Ones), now the live episode (Will and Grace). There’s nothing left to try. They can’t take these characters anywhere else, something that someone has clearly acknowledged: Ralf Little (whose sensibly jumped ship)’s character Johny has been written out by going on a ‘Shark Jumping Holiday’. That’s probably the best gag of the series right there.

Still. That cast is very likeable, even if you can’t ever remember that they’re characters aren’t called Jambo, Carol and Are’Antnee. At least it keeps Susan Nickson from writing another series of Grownups, which was shudderingly bad. Personally I won’t be happy till Sheridan Smith is put in Doctor Who properly though, and this just takes up her time until that day.

The first episode of the new 2POLAAPOC (as it shall now be called) is on this Sunday (Jan 14th)at 9.00p.

Here’s the trailer.

Ring Leader of the Tory Mentors

Dough faced Tory Godhead David 'call me Dave' Cameron is messing with the minds of decent people everywhere by talking about The Smiths again.

You may remember a few years back he appeared on Desert Island Discs where he revealed that, quite annoyingly, he had a reasonable taste in the presentable side of vaguely alternative left-leading indie. We’re not talking anything earth shaking here, but when you find out a Conservative MP likes The Smiths and Radiohead it still jolts something quite fundamental inside you. It’s like finding out your Mum listens to Cannibal Corpse. It doesn’t fit with the way you see the world and how music relates to it. It’s a snobby view, but it’s human nature. Music snobbery is, after all, one of God’s greatest gifts.

Just to hammer the point home, having already proved his Radiohead credentials by persuading Thom and Jonny to play Fake Plastic Tree’s especially for him, he’s making the obligatory Smiths Fan pilgrimage to Salford Lads Club, where no doubt, like thousands before him, he’ll pose on the steps with a hearing aid and some gladioli.

The endearingly spiky Salford MP Hazel Blears is having none of it.

“People in Salford remember when the Tories were in power... I'm surprised he wants to visit a shrine so reminiscent of the 1980s - the dog days of Thatcherism” (BBC)

It’s true. It’s astonishing Cameron hasn’t thought of it. I know tact isn’t the Tory’s biggest priority these days (why else would they keep letting Boris Johnson out into the world?), but does he really think the people of Salford, of all places, will be pleased to see him? Let’s face it, the Manchester area has never been what you’d call Conservative heartland, and as Blears pointed out the bite of Thatcher was felt harder there than most places. People don’t forget that in a hurry. Cameron can hardly be unaware of his parties immediate legacy from their last run at the top. As new Lid Dem chief Nick Clegg says in today’s G2, Cameron was

“a foot-soldier for Thatcher.”

I wonder what Nick Clegg listens to?...Oh.

Should we so surprised at Cameron’s allegiance to the other other Fab Four? Baring in mind Morrissey’s recently published views on immigration –which despite a lot of protest and clucking about being misrepresented by the NME, he never actually took back.

Are the leader of the Conservative Party and the indie elder-statesman gradually becoming the same person? It makes one shudder. As I live and breath, sir, you have killed me.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Madeline: The Movie

The Madeline McCann film is a subject I can’t leave alone. Let’s ignore the fact the story was dismissed as untrue today (or at the very least the moral outrage caused someone to see sense) because it spoils things too much, and let’s ignore the murky morals of the McCann case, frankly it’s another blog all together which other writers have covered with more eloquence than I can currently be bothered to conjure this morning. The idea of Maddy: The Movie (as the tabs inevitably put it) is too irresistible a concept to not take further.

So, Thatjokeisntfunny productions proudly present the motion picture event of the decade. You’ll cry, you’ll quake with fear, you’ll shudder in disgust at the reactions of your own nation and it’s media. It’s a gripping tale of vengeance and plotting, with a spiral of twists each deepening the mystery. The best thing is, we don’t even know how it’ll end yet.

Ladies and gentleman we present: MADELINE!

Oh…hang on…

Better rethink that.

Ladies and gentleman we present: Pretty and Missing: the McCann Story.

From blockbusting Director Michael Bay


Robert Linsey………………………..Gerry McCann
Jill Dando………………………..Kate McCann
Sean McCann as himself
Amelie McCann as herself
Wendy Richard………………………..Jennifer Murat
Al Murray………………………..Robert Murat
Sean Hughes………………………..Dr Russell O’Brian
Gillian Taylforth………………………..Jane Taner
Matthew Kelly………………………..Dr Matthew Oldfield
Kaye Adams………………………..Rachel Oldfield
Nicolas Lindhusrt………………………..David Payne
Letitia Dean………………………..Dr Fiona Payne
Pauline Quirk………………………..Diane Webster
Antonia Banderas………………………..Lieutenant Colonel Costa Cabral
Ian McShane………………………..Chief Inspector Olegário de Sousa
Benicio De Toro………………………..Miguel Matias
Cheech Marin………………………..Sergey Malinka
Dany Trejo………………………..Carlos Pinto de Abreu
Anna Friel………………………..Justine McGuinness
Paul Whitehouse………………………..Pinto de Abreu
Julia Sawala………………………..Jacqui Smith
Dexter Fletcher………………………..Gordon Brown
Patrick Kielty as himself

Alan Dale………………………..Rupert Murdoch
Martin Brunt as himself
David Tennant………………………..Alípio Ribeiro
Mark Berry………………………..José Cunha de Magalhães e Meneses
Dave Longley………………………..Luis Bilro Verão
Richard Fleeshman………………………..Anjos Frias
Nigel Planer………………………..Clarence Mitchell

And introducing Madeline McCann as herself.

*please note Thatjokeisn’tfunnyanymore hopes for the safe return of Madeline McCann to her family. We don’t want to get into the shit over this. Unless they did it of course, in which case she's probably better off without them.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Young Voters take heed

Vomit inducing right-wing wank merchant Richard Littlejohn has described PM Gordan Brown as having a "Kiddiefiddler grin". This is possibly the only sensible thing the smug shitbag has said in his entire career to date, if somewhat hipocritical.

Still...it's really just stating the obvious.

The Old Curiosity shop

Last night saw the recording of the first episode proper of The Museum Of Curiosity at the Pleasance Islington. I went along with fellow Comedybox troopers Bob and Ben, not actually knowing much of what to expect. The show's being co-produced by Dan Schreiber, whose also my immediate boss at Comedybox.

It's a great conceit for a show actually, being a spin-off of sorts for QI, whose producer John Lloyd is chairing here. Not your classic radio panel game, The Museum works as a kind of Room 101 in reverse, for heavy weight intellectuals. John chairs the whole thing with Klingon musical genius and comic leviathon Bill Bailey as co-presenter and comic foil. The panel's made up of three brainy-types who each suggest an item (real, conceptual or non-existant) of curious and interesting value to be placed into the 'Museum'. The panelists wax lyrical on their various disciplines, and John tries to keep the whole thing on topic, and Bill tries to keep it funny.

It's a brave idea actually. This isn't a straight comedy show, although it was in places very funny. No was it a debate show, a science forum and a lecture, though occasionally felt like all three. Much like Badiels Heresy, it's a show that could go in any direction. I'll be very interested to see what comes out of the edit, and where the emphasis will be placed.

Afterwards Bob and I chatted briefly with guest Dr Jonathon Miller, a man of such mind-blasting knowledge that any and all people in the immediate area imediantly feel childish and thick. I certainly did. He gives the impression of tolerating you, not in an impolite way, just with the air that he probably would have better things to think about, but right now he'll alot part of his huge brain to pay attention to you. Of course I wanted to talk about Peter Cook, Beyond The Fringe and the Secret Policemans Ball, but kept pretty schtum as he was happier to talk about biology and how Autism has become a trendy subject. I felt I could bring something to this, but held back as I had the impression everything I could possibly mention will already have been pulled apart in that old mans brain. Someone I felt glad to have met, even if I couldn't get over the fact he looks a bit like Anton Egon in Ratatouille.

Equally I was glad to finally meet John Lloyd, who is essential to the Comedybox project, but whom I haven't met. When talking to someone like John it's difficult to switch your brain from all the things you immediatly associate with them. The fact that I have been able to quote huge parts of Black Adder Goes Forth since I was about 10 and played George in a school assembly version of the final episode when I was 14. The fact that I know Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy inside out. But you don't mention these things, you concentrate instead on the conversation in hand, you try to sound like you know what you're doing, and you try desperatly to not drink too much.

A curious night.

I believe the first episode of The Museum of Curiosity comes to Radio 4 in Febuary. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Tate Modern

A belated Happy New Year to Conservative MP for Mid Beds Nadine Dorries, who took exception to Catherine Tate's Christmas Day sketch extravaganzer.

If I'm honest I'd have taken exception to it too, but that's because I don't really like The Catherine Tate Show (although her acting chops are to be admired when she's doing it for real), as it is I didn't watch it. Frankly there was something better on. However Nadine's problem came not so much from the medium, but the message itself. Catherine Tate swears too much.

She's not the only one complained either. OFCOM was apparently inundated with people taking exception to foul mouthed 'Nan's branding Cathy Burke a "fucking bastard".

Let's gloss over the fact tha Tate's special was shown well past the Watershed at 10.30pm, (by which time any self respecting child has long passed out in a storm of weeping, or else shot their eye out and been taken to casualty) and take this a point at a time, because it really really deserves the detail.

"Having watched endless episodes of The Vicar of Dibley, Father Ted, Blackadder, and Red Dwarf; timed my pud to coincide with the Christmas special of To the Manor Born; and been subjected to endless episodes of the forever perpetually screened teenage favourite Friends, I have reached a conclusion - that the funniest comedy is entirely void of bad language and overt sexual innuendo."

Just take that last sentance and role it around your mind. You'll enjoy the experience, I promise. I'm going to repeat it again for you now, it's just as good the second time around.

"the funniest comedy is entirely void of bad language and overt sexual

Well is it? Can we really accept that Del Boy falling through the bar is the absoloute zenith of human comic achivement? Are we going to discount everything from Mrs Slocombes Pussy to Samantha sitting on Humphrey Littletons right hand on I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue?

For a start I'm not quite sure what Nadine's getting at here. Is Friends part of the problem, or an example of all that is pure and true in comedy? Is she claiming that Blackadder, The Vicar Of Dibley, Father Ted and Red Dwarf are free of smut? Because...well...they're not, are they. Not even a little bit.

Apparently great comedy has to be

"obviously written by people with great intellect, who know how to knit the laughs through a script for maximum well-timed impact".

The best example of this, according to Nadine, is Will and Grace. Will and Grace? Now I like Will and Grace, it's consistently funny it is indeed very well written with those compulsory well timed jokes mentioned above. But it's hardly smut free is it? Really? Infact, if you look through the pantheon of great American trad-sit coms: Roseanne, Cheers, Friends, Seinfeld, The Cosby Show, Fresh Prince, The Simpsons, Frasier, I Love Lucy,The Golden Girls, Taxis, Third Rock From The Sun (okay I'll stop there) Will and flippin Grace is the smuttiest of the bunch. It's a show that's built on filth from beginning to end. Has she actually listened to Jack talk? Good lord.

So why am I taking such an issue with this? I have to admit a certain amount of prejudice against anythign Tory MP's say as standard (and I suppose you can hardly expect decent arts critique from the Conservative Party, can you?). I don't even like Catherine Tate that much. But I feel duty bound to defend a comics right to utter expletives on Christmas day. It taps into a much much bigger issue going on right now. As comedy writing gets closer to the edge, pushes boundaries further and continues to reinvent itself, the backlash is getting stronger. And so sensitive is the current political climate, people are paying more attention to the complaints. They're being upheld. Look at the outgrage caused by Johnathon Ross at the TV awards.

On 9th of January this year MP's will debate an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill, the best possible result is a substantial slackening of the UK's laws on blasphemy. Comedy has never been so high on the political agenda. I think what worries me most is that some of these MP's don't really seem to understand what comedy actually is.

Was Catherine being offensive? Make your own mind up...

Not that bad is it? Actually it's not that bad in quite a few senses...it's one of Tate's better efforts, and it's always nice to see Ms Burke. But the quality control issues aside, who is Nadine, or indeed any of the complainees to deny us swearing on Christmas day. In my house the swearing was uncontrollable on Christmas day! No-one was sober enough by that time of night to control it!.

Don't complain about it, revel in it. Swearing is funny, late night TV shows aren't for Children at any time of the year, parents should no what to expect from Catherine Tate of all people, and Conservative MP's are almost always, always wrong.