When is the end of your schtick, Vic?

Friday, March 17, 2006 by

There has been heated debate on internet forums this week regarding the BBC3 programme When Comedy Changed Forever. This one-off, 60 minuter put forward the thesis that modern television comedy owes an enormous debt to Vic Reeves Big Night Out. Taking this assumption as its intellectual starting point, the rest of the programme was then bolted round the idea, and presented to us via some ugly graphics that were meant to denote the different ages of TV comedy as distinct geographical locations. The upshot was – a clip of Ben Elton being obsequious to Geoffery Archer on an episode of Wogan aside – there wasn’t really much of interest in the programme and its whole point came across a little spurious.

But perhaps this is due to a lack of affinity on this writer’s part for the oeuvre of Reeves and Mortimer. Although it’s difficult to contest they were groundbreaking in their day (although fans of Frank Sidebottom have attempted to voice a contrary opinion), the kind of comedy they ushered in seemed to me ephemeral in the extreme. 10, even 15 years on, young tykes attempting to perform comedy via the medium of simply being “random” just doesn’t cut it. This whole school of “surreal” comedy is surely just one joke; namely, the comedian puts two entirely unconnected things together, and their collective incongruity is amusing. So it might be a satsuma and a refrigerator, or an alsation and a bottle of Vosene, but it is still just one joke … it’s not as if you can retell an Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman gag and make it funny the second time round simply by changing the protagonists’ nationalities.

Of course all of this is just a round about way of saying I think The Mighty Boosh is well shit.


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