Tag Archives: comedy

Where laughter goes to die

Withnail and I: bloody wonderful film. It ends with a quote I’ve had on my mind lately:

“I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the Earth, seems to me a sterile promontory.”

Someone told me that’s actually a line from a little-known Shakespeare play but I’d rather hear it from a pissed-up Richard E Grant than some bellend in tights.

It’s been on my mind because I have, of late, lost all my mirth. More clearly, I’ve lost the ability to laugh. And boy, do I love a laugh.

Continue reading Where laughter goes to die

Pass the kittens

I want Donald Trump to be president. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

After a brief spell of impotent fury, I decided to laugh at Britain when it re-elected Cameron and his collection of wide-foreheaded aristocrats last year. You witless dunces decided you want more of all the shit you were moaning about for the preceding five years, because the alternative was a bloke who looked a bit weird. You brought it on yourselves, and the parlous state of the nation you’re left with electrifies the part of my brain that recognises that disabled people are the scourge of our times, and must be taxed until their breathing apparatus whistles like a kettle.

This is the area of my subconscious, entirely beyond my control, that wants the world to suffer. It has no tolerance or compassion for anyone or anything. It gets goosebumps at the thought of kittens in sacks near bodies of water. It revels in disharmony and laughs at misfortune, it’s horrible and hungry for misery, and by gum is the world giving it some tasty treats to snack on right now.

Continue reading Pass the kittens

Ah, Sassenachs!

My name is Michael Grundy. I wish I didn’t need to share that, but it’s important that it is made clear to everyone before they read the following story. And by ‘story’, I mean the incredible, yet wholly real, absolute clusterfuck of events that it has been my fate to endure.

I spent three or so days around New Year in Scotland, which was a pleasant enough experience even when the wind, rain, and pervading atmosphere of impending doom are factored in. I passed the early evening of New Year’s Eve at an enjoyable dinner party in Edinburgh with a few old university friends, along with some unfamiliar faces. I only mention the fact that it was particularly enjoyable as I’m somewhat prone to bouts of nausea at the dinner table, especially when not already acquainted with my fellow guests. I will typically go silent, begin to sweat uncontrollably and find my stomach twisting itself into reef knots as I struggle to eat, regardless of how hungry I might have been before. I should really, I suppose, see someone about this.

On this occasion, however, there was a rich and convivial atmosphere that allowed for a greater degree of relaxation than is usual on my part in such a situation. We were all resigned to the fact that we were to spend the rest of the evening together, ringing in another fucking year where nothing of note would actually happen and, on that basis, we might as well tuck in, drink up, and enjoy ourselves. All of us are going to die (according to statistics, those living on this northern side of the border considerably earlier), so why not make merry, grab a Buckfast and run the risk of waking up next to an acne-ridden trout of a woman from Musselburgh the next morning?

After dinner, it was agreed that for midnight we would head over to the house party of a friend who had purposefully not been invited to dine with us. This person, hereafter known as Dougal, was, and to the best of my knowledge still is, Scottish. Dougal as a Scotsman falls into a very distinct category: that of what my grandfather would have termed the ‘skiting Scot’. Wherever one travels, whether it is Berlin, Bangkok, Minsk or Mumbai, as an English speaker, especially an English English-speaker, one is bound sooner or later to run into this sort; the kind of Scotsman (and frequently Scotswoman) whose sole purpose in life is to bore others to death with tales of Scotland’s greatness.

I have no doubt it is a magnificent and scenic country, which has given birth to some of history’s finest thinkers, artists and writers. But those of Dougal’s nature wish to berate others ceaselessly with the fact that the television, telephone and teleprinter are all entirely Scottish inventions. Not only does Dougal incessantly bother others with the stories of Bannockburn and the Highland Clearances (affecting, of course, a deep resentment of his southern neighbours), he considers himself a great comedian and practical joker. The joke he was to play on me, while from any rational-minded and level-headed point of view would generate nothing but disdain and annoyance, Dougal undoubtedly considered among his best.

After negotiating our way through the cobbled streets, a struggle compounded by the fact that we were now all of us decidedly half-cut, we made it to Dougal’s flat in the genteel Marchmont district. He was waiting to greet us, a cheery grin pasted across his mottled Celtic countenance, dressed in a smoking jacket and, of course, aggressively kilted.

‘Ah, Sassenachs! Come on in, y’English bastards!’

Dougal’s hospitality knew no bounds, and he merrily introduced us around. Already in attendance were his teenage cousins from Dumfries, a rather moody bunch who had segregated themselves off from the main party, blocking the way to the bathroom. The majority of guests, however, were the host’s high school chums from North Berwick, a charming seaside town frequented by the young Robert Louis Stevenson during his school holidays, and nowadays widely renowned for its golf courses and teenage pregnancy.

Midnight came and went, according to the usual sequence of events: a brief period of euphoria found itself replaced by a feeling of worthlessness and self-loathing as the night became just like any other. It was around one o’clock that I decided the room had swelled to such a degree that it was time to remove my jumper. As I placed it safely on the bed of an unoccupied room, I could not have guessed at what an egregious error this would prove to be; an error that Dougal was to capitalise on.

By 5 a.m. the party was over. Dougal’s cousins had disappeared, the floor was thick with the sleeping bodies of revellers and a thick miasma of stale alcohol had insinuated itself into every possible corner of the place. It was time to leave. As I tottered towards the front door along the carpet that was now indistinguishable from a gravel path, I couldn’t help but get the feeling I was forgetting something. Not to worry, I thought as I hiccoughed my way out. I’m sure it’s nothing.

A week later, I had safely returned to my leafy suburban idyll of London’s zone 6, and received one of those wonderful red cards the postman leaves when he decides, on whatever arseholish whim, not to deliver your mail. On top of the card was the name ‘Schmichael Schmundy’. It had to be Dougal. While I appreciated the gesture, as I had by now realised I’d left my jumper at his place, that base level of humour could only have been him.

To this day, I have still not retrieved my jumper. While perhaps there is a little laziness at play on my part, it is overwhelmingly due to the incompetence and absolute scumbaggery of the post office. Who is called Schmichael Schmundy? You would think that the man behind the counter could have employed a little common sense when he saw that my address was the same as Mr Schmundy’s.

But he has always refused to hand the parcel over. ‘I have to protect the public’, he said. From who? Schmichael Schmundy? That devilish bounder? Dashing around town seducing wealthy dowagers and recklessly affixing his name to other people’s mail so that they too can experience this minor inconvenience on a Saturday morning? Fuck the post office. And fuck Dougal.

The trials and tribulations of Mr Khan

Opinions are like arseholes: it’s best to keep yours to yourself and they only get worse with age.

People are well entitled to have opinions on whatever they like, though as previously explained if you disagree with me on music you are simply wrong. This I have most recently pointed out to my grandfather, who it transpires erroneously believes he has built up the right to enjoy the saxophone over the course of his 88 years on Earth. He is mistaken.

One thing that will divide opinion more than virtually anything else is comedy. Few actions available to us, at least ones that won’t get us arrested or exiled, are as enjoyable as laughter. Laughter’s so brilliant we can take pleasure from watching other people doing it, or even just hearing it – sometimes even canned laughter on TV. Which brings me to Citizen Khan.

What in the name of all that’s fucking holy were the BBC thinking when they commissioned this atrocity? For anyone who hasn’t bled from the eyeballs watching a trailer featuring a parodic Asian family gurning about tragically, Citizen Khan, and this is from Wikipedia, “follows the trials and tribulations of Mr Khan, a loud-mouthed, patriarchal, self-appointed community leader, and his long suffering wife and daughters”. Furthermore, “In Series One, Kris Marshall starred as Dave, the manager of Mr Khan’s local mosque”. Dave. Remarkable.

I tend to trust the BBC in most matters, despite how often they invite Melanie Phillips onto Question Time. They produce some fine programmes, including comedy – I will happily rank The Thick of It, Red Dwarf, Blackadder and Yes, Minister among the finest shows ever made, and it’ll surprise nobody to know I bloody love One Foot in the Grave. Two recent efforts, Uncle and The Detectorists, were unexpected treats.

Occasionally the BBC screw up and we could each list a barrel load of shite TV they’ve produced, including many sitcoms. Many terrible shows only last one series and the Beeb can be forgiven for taking a punt on things that don’t work out, but you saw those two words up there didn’t you? That’s right: ‘Series One’.

There’s been more than one series of Citizen Khan. In fact if you head over to the iPlayer now you’ll be able to catch up on episodes from Series Three.

Who the hell finds this debacle funny? The dimwittedness of TV viewers knows no bounds when it comes to things like Big Brother, and the singing and dancing spectaculars they mindlessly goggle at of a Saturday night, but a purported comedy about an Asian family that makes Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em look like, well, Citizen Kane? Is this really happening?

And evidently I’ve misunderstood what racism’s about if this doesn’t fall into that category. Do I have to start calling my mum a nigger now? Please don’t make me.

OK, everyone finds different things funny, I get that. The universal hilarity of watching people fall over and/or hurt themselves aside, the fact that everyone has their own sense of humour is what makes comedy so special. For some reason this is best summed up by Irish sitcoms – Father Ted, one of the Republic’s finest exports, makes me laugh until milk comes out of my nose. Moone Boy was a surprisingly entertaining, cheeky-but-inoffensive watch. And then there’s something called The Walshes, which made me very angry the other night, a falsely stereotypical batch of Irish ‘idiots’ japing their way through uproarious misunderstandings for thirty graceless minutes.

And I’ll be the first to admit some things are not intended for me. Though the movies are superb I never really got my head around Monty Python’s TV series, and much as I loved Spike Milligan it was more for his writing than for The Goon Show. Surreality is not to my taste, and though I can see why people might enjoy Flight of the Conchords, it’s not for me. That said, anyone involved in The Mighty Boosh should be branded with ‘I’M SORRY’ on their foreheads.

Obviously not everyone finds what I find funny in any way amusing. My favourite programme of all time, I’m not ashamed to admit, is Minder. I tell people that often, usually as they back away slowly with their palms facing me, eyes darting left to right. I can’t explain what exactly it is about Arthur Daley that makes me believe he’s the finest comedy creation of all time. People think I’m obsessed with Dennis Waterman because I also love the original Sweeney and I have a New Tricks habit I can’t seem to shake, but it’s Arthur, it’s always Arthur.

But surely we can agree that programmes like Citizen Khan must be stopped. There are plenty of gormless sitcoms for the idiots to enjoy – see Not Going Out, Benidorm if that’s still going, and presumably Michael argh-please-God-no-more McIntyre will have a sitcom of his own before long. That Outnumbered programme, that’ll work if you really need ‘family’ comedy. And if sitcoms are just too white for you, for Christ’s sake pick up a box set of Desmond’s, because that was bloody superb without needing to patronise either non-whites or liberals needing a show to demonstrate how right-on they were.

I stared open-mouthed at 12 minutes of the first episode of Citizen Khan, and tried hard to scrub it from my memory. I completely missed the second series and assumed there hadn’t been one. That it’s made it to a third is as unknowable to me as Mark Lawrenson’s continued presence on football coverage or how Terry Wogan disguises his syrup so well.

I’m loathe to bring the licence fee into it but part of my annual BBC tax is going on this foul endeavour. I hope the BBC’s security is up to scratch in their lovely new building in Marylebone because the moment they announce Series Four, thoughts will turn to shotguns and dynamite and taking as many of them with me as I can.

Black, or white, or brown

It’s time to talk about the color of our skin. More specifically, who even cares about the color of our skin?

Here in the United States, you are black, or white, or brown, before you’re American. We don’t have a single, unified people. We aren’t all American. You are African-American, Mexican-American, Asian-American, and Hispanic-American. Never just American. Your skin color, your origin, supersedes your status as an American in the United States.

So to answer my own question, Americans care about the color of skin. And that’s bullshit.

See, it’s these trivial labels that exacerbate the racism that Americans love to vehemently deny. It has infected the culture of the United States. Everything from films and television to literature has constant racial undertones and reminders that your race is constantly affecting your life. And comedy is no exception.

America is chock full of funny assholes, and thankfully comedy itself is blind to your race – it just wants you to joke about the things that make you cry. But of course color is never far away. You can talk about all your misfortune, you can talk about your problems, but if you’re black or Hispanic, your jokes are sadly rarely going to be about anything but your race.

And then there’s Vine. Vine lets you share six-second videos of whatever you’d like to share. To some it’s just quick catharsis, to others Vine offers a way to advertise your cheap porn site or cam girls haven, but Vine is seeing most success as a comedy site – six-second humor, and of course race has influenced this too. A favorite video type is “White people be like ____, Black people be like ______”. These scenarios only serve to make people look like uncivilized assholes. Especially the people who make the videos.

By placing a subtle focus on racism, we draw attention away from the fact that it is indeed still racism. No matter how we deal the cards, if it’s racist, it must stop. People are people regardless of something as stupid and trivial as how we’re colored.

Let’s stick to finding comedy in regular things, like your girlfriend fucking your brother, morbid obesity, daddy problems. If we soulless fucks can concentrate on that, maybe the rest of the world can follow suit.

No results found for “Alistair McGowan git”

Neo-conservatives, paedophiles, estate agents and the Welsh: there are so many abhorrent categories humans place themselves within it’s hard to know who you’re supposed to be hating most when you lever open your eyes in the morning for another purposeless few hours of life on Earth. What’s most confusing is that you’ll occasionally meet a Welshman who doesn’t bang on about fucking rugby to anyone within earshot, so he might actually be all right; you just can’t tell without asking him about rugby, which is like pissing on an electric fence to find out if it’s on.

Perhaps we should have one despicable basket to put all our cunts in; one name for the lot. I suggest ‘impressionists’.

This weekend I was subjected to the celebrity edition of a popular television quiz show, and one of the contestants was Alistair McGowan. Since Rory Bremner’s abdication McGowan has been the undisputed and fucking obviously unelected leader of the army of impressionists who pant and gurn their way through a succession of tired, pointless mimicries. Like we’ve not had enough of Alan fucking Hansen without someone else pretending to be him, or rather him during some kind of fit.

You could see the fatigue and desperation in McGowan’s eyes as he pitched and yawed his way through Andy Murray and Gary Lineker, all “Oh fuck fuck fuck who shall I do now? Yes! Des Lynam!” McGowan was the only one of the quiz show no-marks treating it as some type of audition. I didn’t see Joe Mangel banging on about shrimps and barbies and fucking Bouncer the dog in a pathetic attempt to get back into the good books of the Neighbours script writers. I didn’t know who any of the other six contestants were.

As McGowan, or that reedy voiced sub-McGowan twat Jon Culshaw, continue to roll through their fiendish repertoire on the way to the tragically inevitable Michael Caine climax, they should know that we will hold them responsible for the end of comedy. Its demise is epitomised by impressionism’s supreme being: the ultimate light-entertainment Satan, Rob fucking Brydon.

By paving the way for Brydon’s smug, lifeless, ‘likeable’ humour, impressionists have unwittingly created the black hole of broadcasting, otherwise known as ‘The Guess List’. This is a show in which Brydon asks a panel of six people you’ve a one in five chance of having heard of one question each in about an hour. In the many intervening minutes he does Rob Brydon, winking at cameras like a cheeky sex pest and making audiences laugh nervously with the bedroom noises of Ronnie Corbett.

The Guess List is utterly hateful and I want everyone involved with it summoned to the palace to be slowly disemboweled in front of cheering crowds. McGowan himself will be wielding the knife, before he’s taken to the river and dunked to within a single breath of death over and over again in one of those medieval witch’s chairs, simulating what listening to his fucking impressions does to the rest of us.

And when Steve Coogan finally snaps and pushes Brydon off an Italian Alp I will be there to clear the latter’s path all the way down to ensure he makes the loudest possible squelching noise, and so I get to make certain the massive-faced cunt is finally at an end.

He’s Welsh too. Well I never.