Channel 4’s latest stab at a topical comedy show had some highlights, but any hopes that it might be a British Daily Show were dashed pretty quickly, in the main thanks to the sub-par troupe of ‘correspondents’ hoping to become the next Ali G.
What was good about it?
• Presenter Jason Manford was genial, funny, comfortable and confident. He started with some nice self-deprecating humour about how he’s easy on the eye for the girls and the gays ‘like Adam Rickett’ and continued to be far more watchable than the other segments of the show.
• We also like Andi Osho – she may have been palpably nervous at first, but she’s undeniably witty and has a wonderful energy to her delivery. Anyone who has seen her excellent stand-up can confirm that. Her notes about how once the evil (Like Saddam and Radovan Karadzic) fall out of power they seem to grow enormous beards were quite entertaining. And she’s hot. Possible star in the making (but why is she sort of stuck on the end of the desk like a spare part? Give her a desk of her own, for God’s sake).
• We applaud the concept for this nightly show – the US is so good at producing these kind of things (Colbert Report, Daily Show plus all their chat shows) but for some reason we never quite seem to manage it. Probably the closest was the once-a-week Friday Night Armistice with the peerless Armando Iannucci. We liked the absence of ‘nasty’ humour that was a staple for the 11 O’ Clock Show and we will be watching more to see if it settles down after a few episodes.
What was bad about it?
• We weren’t impressed by the weird floating picture graphic over Jason’s shoulder. It was distracting.
• Mostly, the show was let down by the comedy correspondents. It’s an idea used brilliantly by The Daily Show, where the likes of Rob Corddry, Stephen Colbert and John Oliver have proved massive hits. Here the idea has been borrowed but executed poorly with over-the-top characters relying on noise rather than wit.
• Sir Ian Bowler MP, played by Nat Tapley, was a hugely derivative character crammed with stamped-into-the-ground posh-Tory-boy cliches. It died an embarrassing death with the studio audience despite Tapley’s game gurning.
• Consumer expert Steve Lipschitz, played by Steve Weiner, fared little better. His report about how all food is bad for you had potential, but it was overlong and mainly irritating. This sort of report would have been superb if done by Chris Morris on the much-missed Day Today, but here it simply lacked subtlety. It did have its moments, mind, such as an amusing statement that peppers cause leprosy (‘easy to remember because they sound alike’).
• The Madonna sketch just before the break had a pay-off so obvious the sketch might as well have been preceeded by an intertitle saying: “Warning: At the end of this sketch there will be a Madonna lookalike present.” The acting was quite good, but Madonna wasn’t exactly the most imaginative of targets.
• Olli Roberts, the ‘teenage’ TV Expert played by Danny Morgan certainly brought energy near the end of the show, but he was hit and miss with his jokes about wanking.