Yep, check that face out. Doesn’t it make your fists clench and your eyes feel slightly itchy? Meet Bruce Dessau, king of the Non-story and current comedy Critic-in-chief for the Evening Standard. He’s also worked for the Times and the Guardian (who persuaded him to pose for a less smackworthy banner-pic) and written a series of uninspired-looking comedy biographies.
Bruce is the master of writing lots while saying little; his blogs at the Standard’s website are lessons in stating the bleeding obvious at pointless length. Currently we’re reading his stuff whenever we want to feel annoyed that someone is being paid substantially more than us for such relentless space-wasting.
Full Blog: Funny Ha-Ha or Funny Boohoo?
What Bruce actually means: “a new BBC4 drama series thinks all comedians are depressed mentalists, but these comics wot-I’ve-met prove otherwise”. Or to be even more succinct: “Are comedians depressed mentalists? Not all of them but some are”.
We say: Surely the BBC4 series isn’t making a sweeping generalisation, but making special cases out of these key examples (Frankie Howard, Tony Hancock, Hughie Green, the cast of Steptoe –surprisingly not Spike Milligan too) and talking about the relationship between knowledge of human understanding and self-awareness? It’s not about comedians being naturally morose, but about morose people who happen to also be comedians and thus make for a richer and more interesting drama.
But that’s a little too dark and complicated an idea and doesn’t give Bruce the chance to do some thinly veiled name dropping and make blindingly obvious points.
Full Blog: Two's Company
What Bruce actually means: “some people who work together also work separately, and double acts usually break up eventually”
What we say: Well done Brucie! Hold the front page and get the South Bank Show on the line…there’s a big scoop in this one.
Full Blog: iPlayer Changed My Life
What Bruce actually means: “isn’t the BBC iPlayer a brilliant idea, it’s changed everything over night and now I don’t need a video”
What we say: Jesus H Corbett Desso, we’re not sure what pulse your fingers on exactly, but it clearly died years ago. Leaving aside the fact the iPlayer launched about 3 months ago, it was hardly that big a revolution even then. Unofficially VOD has been around for years. Within hours of it going out, every episode of –say- That Mitchell and Webb Look, was available to download on torrents the world over and stream all over the place, and that’s been the case for at least 5 years. We’ll admit Veoh, Youtube and Daily Motion aren’t as crisp and efficient as the iPlayer itself, and were certainly a long way from official (Illegal downloading is wrong kids, and it funds terrorism, peadophilia and mass genocide.) It was difficult to get hold of, say, the One Show or an episode of Doctors, but the real Watercooler TV moments you’re talking about? They’ve been easy to get for donkeys yonks. We like the iPlayer as much as the next media-savvy web snob, but life changing? Welcome to the internet BD.
We could go on all day.
Oh go on, one more.
What Bruce actually means: “Doctor who likes employing comedians, and I don’t know why”
What we say: You could also say "Why is Doctor Who obsessed with Luvvie middle aged thesps (Dereck Jacobi, Simon Callow, Penelope Wilton)", or "why is Doctor Who obsessed with pretty, young actresses (Billie Piper, Freema Agyeman, Carey Mulligan, Eve Myles)". They're just people who can bring different aspects to a performance. Jessica Hynes played it completely straight, Mark Gatiss is a brilliant writer for whom Doctor Who is a dream come true, Steve Pemperton excels at grotesques. These people were brought in because they’re specific abilities related well to specific roles.
Okay, Peter Kay was just trading on a famous name and the juries out on Catherine Tate –although she was an actress before her sketch show took off, and a pretty good one at that, but it hardly proves the show is “obsessed”
We’re aware this all may seem rather petty. It’s just…if you’re going to pay a journalist to write meaningless space fillers that say nothing of any importance, we’ll do it for you at half the price.