Short reviews of comedy old and new, and other bits of info which don’t fit anywhere else on the site, updated weekly.
Man Seeking Woman Season 1 Episode 1
Simon Rich is the man behind Miracle Workers, Man Seeking Woman, two novels and several collections of short stories (plus a surprisingly fantastic episode of The Simpsons from a couple of years ago about parents giving their kids pointless trophies) but up until three weeks ago bar Miracle Workers I wasn’t really aware of his work. I’ve become a little addicted to it since then though, hence this week’s Comedy Snippets being a special Simon Rich themed one, starting with this this sitcom that lasted for three seasons on FX from 2015 to 2017, where Joshua (Jay Baruchel) is fresh out of a relationship with Maggie (Maya Erskine) and struggling with the prospect of returning to dating life. That’s made even more complicated as his friend Mike (Eric Andre) is a sexist piece of shit who tries to help him but often only cares about himself, while his sister means the best for him but then sets him up with a troll from Sweden. That’s not me being outrageously sexist either, it’s a genuine troll of the lives under bridges and grunts and groans but doesn’t actually speak any English variety. For this is a high concept piece from Rich which has a beautifully surreal edge to it, yet it treats its more outlandish elements as if they were completely normal aspects of every day life, and that’s why in the even funnier second half of the episode he discovers that Maggie is now dating a very old and now wheelchair bound Adolf Hitler, who apparently had been hiding out in Argentina for many a decade but is now in America with no one seeming to care as Mike explains “I know he’s got a weird rap and people think he’s sketchy or whatever but in person he’s actually pretty cool”. I’m wary of getting over excited by opening episodes (see way too many reviews linked to below) but this pilot really is bloody great stuff, smart, inventive and with a superb selection of hilarious lines delivered by gifted actors, and I’ve now watched four more episodes of the show and loved those too so for once this won’t be a time I walk back a highly praised review.
Spoiled Brats by Simon Rich
Spoiled Brats is Rich’s 2014 collection of short stories, his fourth at the time, and I now plan to check out everything else he’s written as it’s the kind of book which will not only make you laugh time and again but which is extremely charming and endearing too. It opens with one of the best tales, a nightmarish story from the perspective of a classroom hamster who dreads his interactions with the children of the school, and then continues in a deranged yet still delightful manner with the adventures of a couple who have given birth to something that’s clearly a monster, but rather than letting it run free and be all kinds of disturbing they insist on treating it like a real child. Also within the collection is his novella “Sell Out”, the film of which, American Pickle, is due to hit our screens very soon and sees Rich meet his own Great-Great Grandfather aged only 27, despite the fact that this should of course be impossible, and it’s a great piece containing lots of mockery of not only Rich and his contemporaries but also everyday American life in the past and present. There’s also stories involving a genie with a possible hearing problem, a gorilla who wants more from life than his parents feel is reasonable, and an author who thinks everyone’s out to to get him – and they are – all of which are superb, and this is a selection of stories which I now plan to buy for everyone when it comes to their birthdays as I’m all but certain they’ll love it, and I’m also apparently a lazy present buyer.
The World Of Simon Rich Series 1 Episode 1
This Radio 4 series features a selection of stories and sketches based on the tales from Rich’s various books, and while Rich introduces the stories it has an impressive cast performing them that includes Peter Serafinowicz, Joseph Morpurgo, Tim Key, Cariad Lloyd, Jamie Demetriou and Claire Price. It’s a mostly very strong batch of stories too, one about a Doctor obsessed with April Fool’s Jokes is filled with great lines, as is a strange Alice In Wonderland-esque tale about a young girl who meets a horny goat (beautifully played by Joseph Morpurgo), while Tim Key narrates an occasionally melancholic tale of the life of a condom, and there’s not a bad story in the lot, but some of the shorter ones didn’t quite work so well, at least for me. So though they still made me smile a time travel yarn about killing Adolf Hitler as a child is too briefly told and though the final line’s a killer I still found myself wanting more from it, and a bit with Nostradamus is fine but nothing special. And despite being extremely fond of Rich’s work this isn’t my preferred method of discovering them, some of the stories here are in a truncated form for one thing, hearing the polite laughter from the radio 4 audience occasionally irritated, and it’s clearly a personal choice but I just prefer reading them to listening to them.
With American Pickle not yet released, the only movie Rich has been involved with that he has a credit for on imdb is this Pixar masterpiece where he apparently contributed “Additional Story Material”, so who knows if he’s responsible in any way for it being such an amazing film, but hey, either way if you’ve seen it you’ll know exactly why it’s one of the best animated films yet released. An insightful exploration of childhood and the way our pesky brains might sometimes work, it’s not only sweet, funny and affecting but also extremely thought provoking and intelligent stuff, and an example of Pixar at their very best.
Video Of The Week
Rich hasn’t made any short films or anything like that, the lazy bastard(!), so I struggled a little to find a decent video related to the man, but here’s a five minute interview with him who talks about his debut novel in depth and why it’s worth reading. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osA0nVzk5Rc
Link Of The Week
And ending this week’s Simon Rich themed post is a long, detailed interview in which he mostly talks about the stories found in Spoiled Brats, but even if you haven’t read that it’s still a must read and a great insight in to the man’s mind. https://longreads.com/2014/10/14/interview-simon-rich-on-guilt-humor-writing-and-being-the-worst-person-ever/
Previous Comedy Snippets:
21/06/2020 – A Young Doctor’s Notebook, Crossing Swords, The Insecurities Of Dill, Manborg
14/06/2020 – Upstart Crow, La Princesca de la Woking, Solar Opposites, The Muppet Movie
07/06/2020 – Jeeves And Wooster, JJ Villard’s Fairy Tales, She Loves Me, Where’s Marlowe?
31/05/2020 – It Started As A Joke, Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop, Best Worst Movie, The Aristocrats
24/05/2020 – Solar Opposites, Daniel Kitson – The Interminable Suicide Of Gregory Church, Jimmy O. Yang – Good Deal, How To Marry A Millionaire
17/05/2020 – What We Do In The Shadows, JJ Villard’s Fairy Tales, Down The Line, Bolt
10/05/2020 – The Toxic Avenger The Musical, Kinky Boots, The Simpsons, Wrong
03/05/2020 – Crank Yankers, Code 404, Upload, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
26/04/2020 – Oh Hello On Broadway, Emily Heller – Ice Thickeners, Sam Morril – I Got This, Were The World Mine
19/04/2020 – American Dad, Maeve In America Essays By A Girl From Somewhere Else by Maeve Higgins, Quiz, Simple Men
12/04/2020 – Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Dave, Broke, Bran Nue Dae
05/04/2020 – Super Buddies, Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens, Future Man, The Magicians
29/03/2020 – Kate & Koji, The Unicorn, Miracle Workers: Dark Ages, The Suicide Shop
22/03/2020 – Eugenius The Musical, Cake, Modern Family, Avalanche Sharks
15/03/2020 – It’s Personal With Amy Hoggart, Mike Tyson Mysteries, The Simpsons, The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists
08/03/2020 – The Windsors, Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast, Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, The Big Sick
01/03/2020 – Everything’s Going To Be Okay, High Fidelity, Duncanville, His Girl Friday
23/02/2020 – Outmatched, The Secret Diaries Of Alan Bennett, Avenue 5, Hot To Trot
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