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December 05, 2023, 05:36:47 AM

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Sorry if this has already been posted but I couldn't see it.

Paul Garner interview from two months ago:

He talks about writing for CM and the airport Tannoy pranks, etc.

(Ginger Beard Mark does a nice interview, actually. He's done other favourites like Stewart Lee, Kunt and the Gang, Paul Putner et al)

I was wondering what were the big comedies in the USA just now and whether any have made it to British TV. In the past the UK has seen a lot of big American shows from the 80s and 90s such as Friends, Cheers, Roseanne, and Frasier. More recently, Big Bang Theory is inescapable on E4 and Modern Family was a hit on Sky and is now on some part of the C4 network. Other shows like The Office, and Everybody Loves Raymond are at least known here, even if they've not had the same Channel 4, 9 pm, Friday Night prominence.

But what are Americans watching now? I found a Variety most-watched broadcast TV comedy list from earlier this year:

1 Young Sheldon (CBS)
2 Ghosts (CBS)
3 The Neighborhood (CBS)
4 Bob Hearts Abishola (CBS)
5 United States of Al (CBS)
6 B Positive (CBS)
7 Young Sheldon - repeats (CBS)
8 The Conners (ABC)
9 Abbott Elementary (ABC)
10 The Neighborhood - repeats (CBS)


I've a soft spot for Young Sheldon which is on E4 in the UK; it's not hilarious but it's well-made, inventive, sometimes touching, sometimes pleasantly off-beat.

You may know Ghosts (the remake) and The Conners (Roseanne Without The Racist). I've never seen The Neighbourhood, a fish-out-of-water sitcom where Max "New Girl" Greenfield and Beth "2 Broke Girls" Behrs move next door to Cedric the Entertainer; it's apparently on E4 too. Bob Hearts Abishola is a Chuck "every comedy you hate" Lorre show about a businessman who falls in love with a Nigerian immigrant nurse. United States of Al is about an Afghan immigrant. B Positive is another Chuck Lorre show and apparently has something to do with a kidney transplant but the Wikipedia synopsis makes no sense.

I notice a lot of these shows are about race, which is interesting. And Chuck Lorre (still only a youthful 70) is still king.

So. What is the current state of American network TV comedy? Are any of these shows worth watching? What do they tell us about America? Is all American comedy fishes-out-of-water? Is Chuck Lorre a misunderstood genius?

I was off last week and had a week on the sofa catching up on films and series' I'd fallen behind on.

Decided to see what was new in UK comedy via iPlayer, All4 etc. And really struggled to find anything to catch my interest.

Last really good series I watched was "Ladhood" on iPlayer. Is there anything else out there I'm missing out on? Just want new stuff as I can't keep doing rewatches of Peep Show, The Thick of It and League of Gentlemen forever!

A few people chatting in the Boosh thread got me thinking about where certain shows or comedy "things" fall in our respective "journeys" (for lack of a less pompous term) to becoming probably-more-than-usual fans of comedy. I'm sure the majority of us ended up here because at some point or other we got really into Chris Morris or Cook/Moore, but I'm curious to see how that happened - especially with the diversity of age groups among us.

I'll start by breaking down what I consider to be my most "formative" comedy things I got into at various ages (being in my 30s now):

Age 7-10: Fawlty Towers, Alan Partridge, Blackadder, Father Ted, South Park, Coffee Friends (aye)
Age 11-14: Ali G, Monty Python, The Office/Extras, Peep Show, Lee Evans
Age 15-17: The Mighty Boosh, Stewart Lee
Age 17-20: Chris Morris, Jerry Sadowitz, George Carlin, Doug Stanhope

Of course I've found plenty of other things since then that I would consider important or formative (I didn't get into The League of Gentlemen until I was in my mid-20s!), but I joined CaB when I was around 19 so I think it's fair to say I was already a bit of an obsessive by then.

Let me see yours, please.


A shtick (Yiddish: שטיק) is a comic theme or gimmick. The word entered the English language from the Yiddish shtik (שטיק), in turn derived from German Stück and Polish sztuka (both ultimately from Proto-Germanic *stukkiją), all meaning "piece", "thing" or "theatre play"; note that "Theaterstück" is the German word for play (theatre) (and is a synonym of "Schauspiel", literally "viewing play" in contrast to the "Singspiel").

There's a bit of chat about 'schtick' in the Stewart Lee Killed On Stage thread with some people saying they love his schtick, others saying he should change his schtick. In my opinion, he has changed his schtick from a static, cool, detached, studenty-type figure with gently surreal routines to this mercurial absurdist who embraces clown play, grotesquery, testing an audience's patience to the utmost limit and performing some of the most extreme outbursts of rage and self-flagellation ever performed on a British comedy stage.

But can a comedian ever truly change their schtick that much, if at all, if that's their general modus operandi? Are there many examples of comics who have done?

I'm not talking about comedians who found their voice after years of trawling the circuit, I mean already established performers. When I saw Eddie Izzard perform in the late eighties, the style was much less showy, meek even, a tubby man in a deliberately crap C&A suit with an unironed shirt hanging out, talking about the different ways to eat a Custard Cream, but by the early nineties, a glammed up Izzard was vamping away, taking complete control of the stage with bigger fish to fry than McVities biscuits. Was this because she became more confident as a performer or just wanted to reinvent the nerdy persona they had as resident stand up at the long gone Raging Bull club in Soho.?

Dave Allen's schtick in the '60s/'70s/'80s was this rueful, groomed Irishman perched on a bar stool, relaxing with a cigarette and glass of ginger ale scotch, but by the early '90s this wild haired man was up on his feet like a Northern club comic with a less intimate style, more exasperated with life and swearing like a trooper. Interesting to note, Mark Thomas was writing for him on those ITV shows.

Actually, Mark Thomas is a good example. When I first saw him perform over thirty years ago, his act was pure filth, no politics at all. He seemed like the least likely comic to become a serious political satirist.

Who else?...

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right okay it's up to me to make this

Laura Kuennsberg, one of the most universally loathed politics broadcasters, has a new flagship Sunday morning politics show. Loathed by the left for her clear bias against anything remotely left of centre, loathed by the centre for not being pro-Remain, loathed by the right simply because she works for the BBC really, but essentially because she's a self-described politics nerd who unquestionably accepts the status quo and her journalism essentially was reporting anonymous statements sent to her whatsapp.

For some reason, on this first show they invited Joe Lycett on. here is him being flippant about his upcoming appearance.
"Really excited to be on this new version of Would I Lie To You"

Then on air he is incredibly sarcastic to Laura about Liz Truss and sends up the whole charade of sensible politics shows.

The media establishment absolutely shit their pants about this.
Most notably Rob Burley, well known for platforming fascists like Le Pen and Farage for supposed balance

And Rachel Wearmouth, that is, the mouth of Keir

The Spectator's Steerpike has a column up within hours complaining

Also the show really does look Chris Morris, with its patronising and silly graphics including giant question marks:

anyway sorry this is a bunch of links to twitter. but I think the internet's PREMIER comedy forum should be talking about this, as arguably Lycett here has shown up our media machine really well with a very simple routine. And it's interesting. Has the jester really shown who plays the tune? Or is this just a load of old twitter shite! let me know in the comments. how do i do a finger pointing down. hang on 👇 ok there we go


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Do you identify with this at all?

And do you think it's part of being a comedy fan? Maybe that makes you more tunes in to certain absurdities, I think.

I spent ages howling at stuff today that I just can't really share with others, because it's so obtuse.

I'm completely fascinated by this bit at the moment and would love to learn more about it. A friend brought it to mind with a gif of this scene from Winnie the Pooh:

It has the same kind of misunderstanding and wordplay, particularly near the end.

So that got me to thinking about Who's on First. This is seemingly the earliest filmed version:

And I really like this later version as it has an audience:

As I say, I'd love to know more about the history of the bit, and also if there are any known antedecents to it, or whether it's just considered a product of music halls and such.

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