Comedy Snippets: Starstruck, Rutherford Falls +

comedy snippets 23052021Short reviews of comedy old and new, and other bits of info which don’t fit anywhere else on the site, updated weekly.

Starstruck Series 1 Episode 1
Beginning on New Year’s Eve, Jessie (Rose Matafeo) is not having the best of times as she’s dragged in to a club by her friend Kate (Emma Sidi) and forced to witness a twat flirt with her. But after drunkenly using a men’s toilet and briefly getting annoyed with Tom (Nikesh Patel) for treating himself to a sit down pee, the two are back at his place and one thing leads to another. Throughout this section there’s some very funny moments, including Jessie checksing that Tom definitely wants to be having sex with her while they’re actually having sex, and Matafeo’s drunk acting feels real and believable. The next morning she’s slightly shocked to learn that Tom’s a film star though, and initially decides she doesn’t want to see him again, but after a less than chance meeting it looks like they’re going to get together, only for the relationship to be stopped dead in its tracks when it looks like he’s already got a girlfriend. Both Matafeo and Patel are strong leads with great chemistry, and the show has a great supporting cast as well with Sidi especially on fine form. Matafeo and co-writer Alice Snedden have littered the script with funny offhand lines (with Jessie bragging “I am forever a stain on his sexual history” being the one which made me laugh the most), and it’s quite gentle in a strange way, despite the subject matter. It’s also very funny throughout, the plot is an appealing one, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where it goes next. ★★★★

Rutherford Falls
Sometimes a sitcom character is so awful, so annoying, that it’s hard not to dislike an actor in every subsequent role, as Scrubs’ star Zach Braff and How I Met Your Mother’s Josh Radnor presumably know, and for me Ed Helms can be added to that list due to his performance in The Office. It wasn’t his fault of course, indeed his character Andy Bernard started off well before the writers struggled to know what to do with him and turned him in to a passive aggressive cunt, but it’s meant I’ve struggled with everything he’s done since. He’s finally won me round with Rutherford Falls though, where his lead is a very likeable everyman, all of which makes it even more the shame that it’s only okay, extremely mild fare that made me smile but never anything more than that. This came as a real surprise as one of the co-creators is Michael “The Good Place / Brooklyn Nine-Nine / A sod load of other amazing comedy” Schur, but the other’s behind this are Helms and Sierra Teller Ornelas and so I can only presume they’re to blame for it being so average. The show has an awful lot of world building to do in this opening episode as we’re introduced to Nathan Rutherford (Helms) who runs a museum about the town and is a direct descendent of it’s founder and is a staunch defender of a statue of that man, while Nathan’s best friend Reagan runs a Cultural Centre in a casino and wants to expand it to cover more of the history of indigenous people, plus there’s a whole load of supporting characters and a number of townsfolk, as this owes more than a slight debt to Parks and Recreation when it comes to wacky locals. It’s not that it forgets to include jokes while telling the story either, just that they’re not funny, being mostly predictable affairs that you could see a mile off, which is unusual for Schur’s work. Perhaps it’ll improve over the course of the next few episodes, and at the end there’s a whole load of rushed development to hint at what’s to come, but this is such a bland affair that I’m in no rush to find out. ★★

St Elwick’s Neighbourhood Association Newsletter Podcast Episode 1
Mike Wozniak has just wowed the nation, if not the entire universe, in this latest series of Taskmaster but now it’s no longer on our screens if you’re suffering from withdrawal symptoms in the way that I am this podcast will salve your cravings. A local newsletter in podcast form, as they can no longer afford to print it, it’s a combination of a list of public notices and events which have taken place, including the opening of a new cafe, how someone has lost their phone, and an extension collapsing that killed four rabbits, along with a casual mention that someone has won the Nobel prize. Wozniak has a guest in the form of local resident Jonathan Schweppes (Henry Paker) who keeps on speaking before his segment and their interactions are very funny, and as with Taskmaster it’s Wozniak’s talent for unusual dialogue that makes this such a delight, it might not sound like the stuff of comedy gold but Wozniak elevates the mundane and weaves a number of hilarious moments from it, while Paker is a great foil for him. There’s a total of 23 episodes so far, with future guests including James Acaster and Greg Davies, and I can’t wait to devour them all. ★★★★1/2

Final Cut: Ladies And Gentlemen
Using clips from hundreds of well known movies (and a few that aren’t) Taxidermia director Gyorgy Palfi shapes a narrative where one scene might see Sharon Stone cross her legs in Basic Instinct, but the reaction comes from Anthony Perkins in Psycho, and we get to see a number of famous characters including Charlie Chaplin’s The Tramp dance to Disco Inferno. It’s perhaps a simple tale, where a man meets a woman, they fall in love, an ex turns up but after a fight the couple marry, only to split, him to go off to war and die. And, er, then it reverses back up a bit so that they have a happy ending, but it manages to pull it off with aplomb. It’s a remarkable film, sometimes very funny but sometimes quite powerful, as it takes these scenes out of context and puts them in a new one, I wasn’t convinced it would work when I heard the concept but it impressed me a good deal. ★★★★

Video Of The Week
The final ever “Clueless Gamer” segment aired on Conan this week, as the show is ending next month, and it features J.B. Smoove and Conan playing Bio-mutant, and highlights just why Conan will be so missed when the series ends. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JndG6WAtkx0

Link Of The Week
Both the Joss Whedon cut and the Zack Snyder cut of the Justice League movie came in for criticism, and deservedly too, yet oddly what no one said was that it should have had a sod load of songs about the team. Yet back in the seventies an album was released that was filled with jaunty numbers about the then members, some of who are quite obscure these days, and it’s a very fun if very daft listen. https://wayoutjunk.blogspot.com/2007/01/songs-and-stories-about-justice-league.html?fbclid=IwAR0RHFHaot9sS6FUOZNPgScRZbMUIBbRCfIXG0GcIrqatbTtpGAuQoXNILI

Alex Finch.
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