Short reviews of comedy old and new, and other bits of info which don’t fit anywhere else on the site, updated weekly.
Outmatched Season 1 Episode 1
Some sitcoms seem to be made for very cynical reasons, to cash in on the success of another major hit, and I can’t help but feel that Outmatched is one of those. It’s essentially The Big Bang Babies albeit with geniuses who are (mostly) in their teenage years, while their parents (Jason Biggs and Maggie Lawson) are the Penny’s of the show, at least if Penny was a really annoying character rather than a likeable one. That applies to most of the kids too as the set up sees the parents struggle with their genius offspring who may be smart but boy are they irritating, apart from the youngest who’s fucking stupid but also kind of adorable in her idiocy. It’s received quite poor reviews in the US and viewing figures are weak too, but oddly I quite like it, though for all the wrong reasons, for this is a sitcom which seems enormously misjudged, where the parents come across as cruel and mean. The best/worst example of this is one scene Biggs chastises the children, saying “For as smart as you guys are, you’re just a bunch of dummies” which in context is pretty harsh given how one of them is only ten years old, and the two teens are socially awkward and lacking in life experience. Many of the jokes about how stupid the parents are come across as harsh too, with Biggs stoned for most of the pilot in a way that you wonder if social services should be called in, and both often seem quite terrified of their children. That aspect especially amused, even though the tone of such gags seems a bit off, and that also applies with the parents desperate attempts to outsmart their kids each week, rather than just talking to them like adults. Don’t get me wrong, this is a bad, bad sitcom, and one I expect to be a one season wonder, but if you’re fond of strangely misguided comedy then the odd episode might appeal.
The Secret Diaries Of Alan Bennett
A new podcast from comedian Paul Litchfield, this gives us five short excerpts from Alan Bennett’s diaries over a period of over sixty years, all of which are gloriously funny. It’s not only a great vocal impersonation of Bennett but Litchfield captures his tone and way with words in a very funny way while transplanting them in to pretty unusual scenarios, so for instance in 1983 he’s discussing tie in toys for the James Bond film Octopussy and comments “I was one Steven Berkoff from having the full set”, while he has a beautiful way with withering put downs too, casually mentioning at one point how someone had “Taken the concept of a lazy eye and extended it to the rest of his face”. It’s hilariously absurd at times – with the line about how Timmy Mallet was involved in Watercolour Challenge and “Presented the experts with three very detailed pictures of a cat’s anus” making me laugh hard, while sometimes the entries are short but perfectly succinct, like 1981’s “Spent nine hours trapped inside a vending machine at Euston Station – Just don’t ask”. At only eight and a half minutes it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome, and I can’t wait to see where it goes next as this is a podcast which I fell for quickly, and which made me laugh an impressive amount. https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-secret-diaries-of-alan-bennett/id1498939380?fbclid=IwAR125Dz_FbNWAqi4pN8SvZnDJO8HCXpjipAitQ_QwrjTjktZHWaZyoMofMc
Avenue 5 Season 1 Episode 5
I quite enjoyed the first episode of Avenue 5 though it seemed not many others did, with it receiving many a harsh review. Having checked it turns out there’s a good reason for this however, as they’d seen the first half of the season whereas I was only reviewing the first episode, and unfortunately they were right to be so negative as it’s all been downhill since then, filled with lots of bland arguing and bickering as the passengers have expressed how upset they are with the fact that they’re going to be stuck on the ship for three years while those in command have failed to soothe their concerns over and over again. Every time it looks like things are set to improve something goes wrong on the ship, everything becomes shouty again and the dialogue has lacked the charm, or the viciousness, that Iannucci is normally best known for. It’s got to the point where I was considering stopping watching it unless it improved, and I’m still close to doing so, though at least the fifth episode was slightly better. Which could be because it was written by Peter Baynham (though these things tend to be the product of a writer’s room like most US sitcoms, admittedly) but at least the first third was pretty entertaining, mostly as it revolved around the one great thing about the series – Hugh Laurie’s captain – who following on from last week’s cliffhanger has to try and save the day by stopping shit spurting out of the spaceship. It allowed for lots of self-deprecation and moments of genuine fear from Laurie, and some fun physical comedy as he proved that spacewalks aren’t the easiest thing in the world, and then with the assistance of Lenora Crichlow’s Billie McEvoya they saved the day much to the joy of the passengers and crew. Unfortunately once that plotline was done with the show revolved around a dull plot about the ship’s stand up comedian and a party which is supposed to celebrate their being halfway home, despite technically only currently being 1/46th of the way back. It didn’t take long before everything spiralled out of control, with the stand up dying painfully as none of his jokes got a laugh, and events almost took a “Lord of the Flies”-esque turn, but very little of it was that funny to watch. As a big sci-fi fan I truly want to like this but it’s something of a struggle, and though it’s been given a second season I can’t help but feel that they’re going to have kill off a good number of the really irritating cast members at the end of the first year if it’s going to be worth watching.
Hot to Trot
Yes, this is another recommendation of a piece of comedy that involves talking animals, and yes, I am oddly obsessed by such things and so my judgement probably can’t be trusted, but I still claim that is pretty good, at least if you’ve a soft spot for such daft stupidity. Apparently Elliot Gould was the voice of the leading equine character originally but it tested so badly that they rewrote the script and got John Candy in, only for him to improvise most of the time (and boy can you tell this) but it works as Candy is on top form whilst Bobcat Goldthwaite’s clearly enjoying himself too, plus the villains of the piece are gloriously dumb. There are downsides, it’s surprisingly badly edited in places and the audio dubbing is a tad shocking on occasion, but most of the time it’s a fairly silly and enjoyable movie.
Video(s) Of The Week
Joe Pera Talks With You star and writer Jo Firestone is also a stand up comedian, and turned up on Jimmy Kimmel this week with a great set which they’ve kindly put online so you don’t have to sit through the rest of the chat show. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyeBllihcWg while you can catch an older set from 2019 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWEGNIhv5lk
Link Of The Week
The Story Of Everest is one of the funniest sketches from David Cross and Bob Odenkirk’s Mr Show, and here in this great Vulture article the main players involved in it discuss how it came about in an article that’s both amusing and fascinating. https://www.vulture.com/2016/01/jokes-story-of-everest-mr-show.html
Previous Comedy Snippets:
16/02/2020 – Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Indebted, Sex Education, Turn Me On, Dammit!
09/02/2020 – Joe Pera Talks With You, Miracle Workers: Dark Ages, Bless The Harts, A Boy And His Dog
02/02/2020 – Sex Education, Avenue 5, Digger, Premature
26/01/2020 – Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Goes Wrong Show, Mum, Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!
19/01/2020 – You’re The Worst, The Skewer, Kongen Befaler, Sisters
12/01/2020 – John Mulaney And The Sack Lunch Bunch, Sex Education, Derry Girls, Frozen II
05/01/2020 – Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes, How To Produce Comedy Bronze by Jon Plowman, The Rocky Horror Picture Show Comic, The Rutles – All You Need Is Cash
29/12/2019 – Mrs Fletcher, Harley Quinn, What A Fucking Year On Tv With Mel B and Mel B, Cafe Society
22/12/2019 – Content, Ladhood, Silicon Valley Ten Years Later The Extended Documentary, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
15/12/2019 – Astronomy Club The Sketch Show, South Park, Joe Pera Talks With You, Lavalantula
08/12/2019 – Mom, Mock The Week, Sunnyside, The Ten
01/12/2019 – Vic and Bob’s Big Night Out, Kongen Befaler (aka Taskmaster Norway), Harry Hill’s Clubnite, Scout’s Guide To The Apocalypse
24/11/2019 – Wellington Paranormal, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Tourist Trap, The Adventures Of Rocky and Bullwinkle
17/11/2019 – 2100: A Space Novelty, Silicon Valley, Zomboat, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever
10/11/2019 – Do You Want To See A Dead Body?, Taskmaster, The Good Place, A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
03/11/2019 – Bojack Horseman, Comedians Giving Lectures, Living With Yourself, A Town Called Panic
27/10/2019 – Joe Pera Talks With You, Would I Lie To You?, The Band Wagon, Tucker and Dale Vs Evil
20/10/2019 – Star Trek Discovery Short Treks, Zomboat, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, High Society
13/10/2019 – Perfect Harmony, Family Guy, Afternoon Delight, The Death Of Dick Long
06/10/2019 – Bless The Harts, South Park, Stath Lets Flats, She’s Out Of My League
29/09/2019 – Danny’s House, Hot Date, Idiotsitter, Crimewave
22/09/2019 – Alternatino with Arturo Castro, The Good Place The Selection, American Dad, American Reunion
15/09/2019 – Off The Air, Taskmaster, Elvira Mistress Of The Dark Issues 1 – 3, Smiley Face
08/09/2019 – Amusical, The Mind Of Herbert Clunkerdunk, Fleabag, Digby The Biggest Dog In The World
01/09/2019 – Final Space. On Becoming A God In Central Florida, In Fabric, Archie’s Final Project
25/08/2019 – A Black Lady Sketch Show, Bajillion Dollar Properties, The Righteous Gemstones, A Good Old Fashioned Orgy
18/08/2019 – Sherman’s Showcase, Succession, Hesher, God Bless America
11/08/2019 – The Day Shall Come, Preacher, Archie Vs Predator II, Juan Of The Dead
04/08/2019 – Mike Tyson Mysteries, The Boys, Los Espookys, Hamlet 2
28/07/2019 – Lodge 49, Fortysomething, Mutafukaz, Brazil
21/07/2019 – Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, Neighbors From Hell, Live At The BBC – Desiree Burch, Robot and Frank
14/07/2019 – Another Period, Suzi Ruffell – Dance Like Everyone’s Watching, The Mark Thomas Comedy Product, Observe And Report
07/07/2019 – Bridget and Eamon, Action Team, Everything Sucks, Sisters.
30/06/2019 – Taskmaster, Year Of The Rabbit, Santa Versus Dracula, Poultrygeist – Night of the Chicken Dead
23/06/2019 – The Unauthorised Bash Brothers Experience, Trigger Warning With Killer Mike, Taskmaster Sweden, City Lights
16/06/2019 – Rick and Morty Issue 50, Spiderman / Deadpool Issue 50, Lobo Goes To Hollywood, Superhero Movie
08/06/2019 – Archer, The Jellies, Mom, Bye Bye Birdie.
01/06/2019 – Rostered On, Historical Roasts, American Dad, The Phantom Of The Paradise
23/05/2019 – Barry, Urban Myths, Goatface, Shazam!
18/05/2019 – Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Taskmaster, Documentary Now, The History Of Future Folk
10/05/2019 – Dead Pixels, Santa Clarita Diet, Scot Squad, Lemon
03/05/2019 – What We Do In The Shadows, Lazor Wulf, Al Murray’s Great British Pub Quiz, Brigsby Bear
26/04/2019 – Barry, Bonding, Special, Repo The Genetic Opera
19/04/2019 – Hot Streets, Lazor Wulf, Tacoma FD, The Tick, Safety Last
12/04/2019 – The Unexplainers, The Tick, The Funny Women Awards 2019, Popstars Never Stop Popping
04/04/2019 – Santa Clarita Diet, Abby’s, This Time With Alan Partridge, Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein
28/03/2019 – Wayne, Blockbusters, Bill And Ted Face The Music, Hoodwinked
21/03/2019 – Shrill, A.P. Bio, One Red Nose Day And A Wedding, PK
14/03/2019 – Corporate, The Harry Hill Movie, CJ7, The Day Will Come
07/03/2019 – This Time With Alan Partridge, Frank Skinner On Demand, Girlfriend’s Day, Comic Relief
28/02/2019 – Hot Streets, Warren, Mom, Stage Fright
21/02/2019 – Jon Glaser Loves Gear, Corporate, Doom Patrol, Nudist Colony Of The Dead
14/02/2019 – American Dad, Pen15, Afterlife, The Return Of Captain Invincible
07/02/2019 – The Other Two, Hannah Gadsby’s Douglas, Roast Battle, Guys And Dolls
31/01/2019 – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Tigtone, Angie Tribeca, Middle School: The Worst Years Of My Life, Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Podcast
24/01/2019 – Oh Lucy!, Blark And Son, Angie Tribeca
17/01/2019 – The Day Shall Come, Family Guy, Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Podcast, Jon Glaser Loves Gear
10/01/2018- Best Week Ever With Paul F. Tompkins, Vice, Catastrophe, Angie Tribeca