Gigglebox Weekly #8
This week Ian Wolf tackles some stand-up and something sinister.
Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle
This week saw the return of Stewart Lee’s less-than-conventional stand-up show on BBC Two.
If you want to know how unconventional it is, let me put it this way – the show was meant to be about charity, but instead it consisted of Lee talking about crisps (he repeated the word “crisps” over 100 times during the show), and the programme had only four jokes which Lee deliberately deconstructed, giving advanced warning of when they were due to appear and explaining the jokes in detail.
This show is therefore not going to please everybody. Having said that I fail to understand why the BBC decided to broadcast the show at 23.20, where it would fail to get a larger audience. At least there is the iPlayer.
There were some changes to the format. Most of the sketches had gone. There was only one sketch at the end of the episode featuring Scottish comedian Arnold Brown. However, the original red button feature of the programme, in which Lee was “interviewed” by Armando Iannucci, now appears in the main show, breaking up the stand-up routines.
I am not sure whether this new format works. Maybe it is best to let it settle down for a little while, but I quite liked the original sketches, primarily because they featured comedians not usually seen on TV such as Simon Munnery and at one point Jerry Sadowitz as Jimmy Savile.
It is however a funny, interesting and above-all clever show. Lee makes you laugh and also think about the way comedy is presented. Just a shame it is on so late.
The award winning comedy thriller by Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton has finally returned with a full series, following on from its debut in 2009 and the Halloween special last year.
The second series carries on from where the last left off, which ended with a bomb blowing up in an abandoned hospital and the search for a missing locket. I shall not reveal all the details of the bombing for those who have yet to watch it, but out of all the people in the room where the bomb was at the time, two were killed, one had a broken arm, one ended up with perforated eardrums making them slightly deaf, one was so traumatised they cannot speak or move, one is now wearing a neck brace, one was unharmed and the other is currently unknown about.
We also meet up with some new characters, including a librarian who is horrified that a book may be returned late and who is haunted by the sight of a terrifying silent singer that only he can see; and a make-up artist marrying a gay Iranian man to help him stay in the country.
This series is brilliant, with all its cunning twists and turns, but also with its devilish humour. For example, one of the characters talks about a “yawning donkey”, describing it as a euphemism similar to “wizard’s sleeve”.
I think the best way to understand the series is simply watch it. There is no way a reviewer would be able to talk about it too much without giving the plot away – which is somewhat annoying for me, I can tell you.