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Monday, 19 January 2015

Why Channel 4's new comedy is anything but a 'Catastrophe'


My expectations for comedy is at an all time low, it has been for a while. I sit bemused and a tiny bit infuriated by the unfathomable popularity of Mrs Brown's Boys and Miranda which lead me to grimace rather than smile. I suppose the last time I laughed at loud at a comedy might've been Getting On or Gavin & Stacey. Nowadays I'm pleased if a comedy can cause me to smile or chuckle, my expectations so low that I consider that a comedic  success. I appreciate that comedy is subjective, and not everything will have me rolling around the office in fits of uncontrollable hysterics, but surely a giggle shouldn't be outside the realm of possibility? So much contemporary comedy is so inconsequential that I barely remember I've seen it, and our big hitters like Miranda, or the afore mentioned Mrs. Brown are so immature that I can't possibly enjoy them at all.

Of course my expectations were raised when I heard Sharon Horgan had a new comedy coming to Channel 4. Pulling was a work of genius, and her most recent BBC Three outing Dead Boss tickled me too. Her latest comedy, co-written with American comic Rob Delaney, is entitled Catastrophe. Judging by this opener, it's anything but. The six-part comedy focuses on two strangers who have several one night stand that lead to an unplanned, unexpected and perhaps unwanted pregnancy. This forms the basis of a truly enjoyable, and honestly laugh out loud comedy.

Horgan's characters are always wonderfully bleak, and she seems to revel in putting them in the most awkward situations possible, it's clear from this near faultless first episode that she's found a kindred spirit in Rob Delaney. Whilst they're not immediately likeable characters, the clever scripting makes you root for them as soon as they make the decision to have the baby. This decision forces the couple to speed through life, as they come to terms with the life changing choice they've made. Of course there is the expected amount of cringe worthy comedy, with a particularly awkward dinner scene that still makes me shudder. I absolutely loved Catastrophe and it's so refreshing to be saying that about a new comedy.  It feels like everything has fallen in place, Horgan and Delaney inhabit these characters so effortlessly that as a viewer you're put at immediate ease. The first episode of a comedy is the hardest thing to get right and Horgan and Delaney have utterly nailed it! Bring on the next five!

Catastrophe Continues Monday at 10.00pm on Channel 4    

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