Ian Wolf

Gigglebox Weekly #52 – BBC Three’s Online Pilots

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Gigglebox Weekly With Ian Wolf

This week BBC Three launched seven new comedy pilots online. So, I’ve decided to go through all seven of these new shows to see if any off them have got the potential to make a full series.

Prank show Impractical Jokers, of course, has already been picked up for a full series and was, for me, the biggest surprise of the lot. I wasn’t expecting much from it all, but I have to say I thought it was great. The sheer cringing scale of the humour just kept on snowballing, and it was a really fun show.

I was a bit annoyed, however, that the pilot was actually divided into two almost identical halves (even the “improvised” final forfeits at the end were the same); but on the plus side it did allow them to use a larger number of performers (eight in all) so you can see how it can work depending on who’s participating. They just need to come up with more ideas for tasks and situations.

There was even more cringeworthy humour from spoof news show Celebrity Bitchslap News. This show uncovers “footage” of celebrities, all played by rather convincing look-alikes, doing things they’d rather we didn’t know about. I was laughing and wincing at the same time with this one, especially at the disturbing “bromance” footage of Simon Cowell and David Walliams having a bath together. I wouldn’t mind seeing this getting picked up.

There were two stand-up pilots amongst the bunch: The Imran Yusuf Show and The Tape Face Tapes, starring The Boy with Tape on His Face. Both had their moments, utilising their skills as stand-ups: The Boy’s audience interaction and Yusuf’s routines about his skinniness and Konkani Muslims.

However, the problem these sorts of shows are that they keep interrupting them with sketches. I don’t want sketches from stand-ups. I want stand-up from stand-ups. Some sketches do work, obviously, but when one doesn’t it just drags the show down. I’d like to see these two pilots commissioned, but keep the format simple. Stand-up is all that you need.

There was also two sketch shows. Out of these really caught my eye: For The Win, a surreal sketch show featuring amongst others Rich Fulcher. Not only was this the better of the two sketch shows, but I thought that it was the best of all the pilots. It was just full of clever ideas that weren’t so off the wall that they ended up going over your head; from singing “pythons”, to a fanny pack craze, to Embarrassing Bodies on Ice, the laughs just kept on coming.

The other sketch pilot, Dawson Bros. Funtime, was a sketch show themed around technology and the internet. It’s already attracted some interest with their opening item, a song about stalking someone on Facebook, picking up several thousand hits on YouTube. And while the technology theme’s somewhat limiting, I can see it attracting enough BBC Three fans to get a series.

The one pilot that I can’t see making an impact, though, is People Just Do Nothing, a mockumentary about a team running a pirate radio station in West London. It was too much documentary and not enough mockumentary for my liking. I can see it trying to build up a storyline in the hope it’ll be picked up, but sadly the laughs just weren’t there. Not for me.

So overall, I’m happy that Impractical Jokers got picked up, For the Win should definitely get a series, Celebrity Bitchslap News could do well, most of the other shows have potential (with a few minor tweaks) and People Just Do Nothing is an idea best forgotten about.

As we’re away reviewing Latitude Festival next weekend, we’ve given Ian a week off from his TV series, Gigglebox Weekly. However he’s just started a new column called “Comedy, the Anime Way”, exploring comedy and humour from Japanese animation and comics. The first edition will be on Sunday 15th July, so think of it as next week’s substitute…