Saturday 16 March 2013

The celebrity love in that is the modern day Comic Relief was the main topic of my blog yesterday. I didn’t watch the procession of non-comedians get cheap laughs from easy jokes as I was busy drinking myself into a state that would end up in me having an emotional breakdown over the phone to my temporarily Bristol based partner.

As much as I admire politicians and people who write reactionary op eds for right wing (and lets be honest left wing) newspapers, I feel that I should make some kind of vague notion towards actually watching something that I make some comments on. So, as much as yesterday’s blog did seem to be slagging off the 2013 Comic Relief without having seen it, it was really just slagging off modern Comic Reliefs generally.

Today’s isn’t going to be slagging off the 2013 Comic Relief specifically. But these next few sentences will be. Because it did fit in with the depressing way the recent Comic Reliefs have gone. Why is Dermot O’Leary involved? If it was called Perfectly Nice Man Who Is Clearly Adept At Presenting Light Entertainment Relief then Dermot would be my dream host. But it’s not. Fuck off Dermot and take Winkleman with you, you’re both lovely people and I sometimes smile at things Winkleman has said but you’re not comedians, shoo.

I was mainly trying to get to the new David Brent material. Hate him I have grown to do, but there is no doubting why initially loved Ricky Gervais. It was his sitcom, The Office. After ten years of the general public acceptance that The Office was over and that there was no real need to bring it back, Gervais has used the goodwill of the Comic Relief programme to mask this lack of public desire and here he was with a glimpse into the life of The Office’s central character David Brent. Only it wasn’t David Brent that everyone, including DB, was referring to it was just Brent. “Brent’s coming up…Brent’s back in 30 minutes….etc”

Just as Gervais has used the Comic Relief brand in lieu of public demand for Brent I shouldn’t harshly criticise the Brent material through my own filter of Gervais dislike. And I won’t. I only watched the first part of Brent. I couldn’t be bothered dragging the mouse cursor along the timeline of BBC’s iPlayer service to find the requisite element of the Comic Relief broadcast. Now I was hungover but that didn’t stop me standing up and moving several times during the day – surely the lack of this searching for more Brent was a reflection on the quality of what I had seen. It must be: would I not watch something just so I could say that I hadn’t watched it to prove my own opinion that Gervais isn’t funny anymore?

That seemed like a rhetorical question. The unspoken, implied answer being that yes, I would do that. But I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t! Brent wasn’t terrible. It was certainly funnier than the other thing I watched from the night – which was a long sketch about Simon Cowell getting married. This sketch was symptomatic of what this modern era Comic Relief is. It was lots and lots of very famous people edited together so it looks like they are all in the same place at the same time saying really obvious things for easy laughs.

But back to Brent. It just seemed a bit…well ten years ago. The Office grabbed televised comedy by the lapels and gave it a ruddy good shake. And while – not connected to this shake – British TV comedy has become really shit the stuff that has been good over the last ten years has been informed by and been in the shadow of The Office. And even if these shows aren’t better than The Office (they are never better than The Office) they have moved on from what comedy was before – and indeed during and just after – The Office was made. But this Brent stuff was just the same as then. In the main it was just the same jokes as in The Office with just slightly different words.

The main example of this was that the main joke was that someone was black and that Brent was being more offensive trying to be inoffensive than he would be if he wasn’t trying so hard to be politically correct. And that’s all very hilarious, I’m sure, but I saw that already. Did you ever notice that when Gervais is getting kudos for being very savvy and mocking every kind of prejudice that anyone who is slightly different is always in his stuff and whatever makes them different is the (knowing) joke. They’re in a wheelchair. They’re black. They have cerebral palsy. They’re small. They’re Keith Chegwin. The joke is always about people struggling with some supposed disability and how to talk about it or indeed to not talk about it.

But it was still funnier than Michael McIntyre. And less annoying.

Turns out I did basically just slag off the 2013 Comic Relief for the most part. However, as it centred on one person I think that it was OK.

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