Sunday, 15 August 2010

When Scouse humour falls flat …

Getting his own comedy show on BBC1 is quite an achievement for Liverpudlian comedian John Bishop. Shame it ain’t funny. At all.

I’ve watched two of ‘John Bishop’s Britain’ so far, and I’m not impressed.

The format doesn’t help. The comic (who in live performance can be funny) strains as he gives a sort of lecture on various aspects of human life – sport and work, for instance.

He gives the impression of reading from an autocue, and the sketches of himself as a younger man – being interviewed for a job in an ill-fitting suit, for example – don’t work at all. All too often they resemble a southern middle class stereotyped view of what working class Scouse life is like.

Predictably, many of Bishop’s observations slide into the gutter language-wise. His attempt to draw humour from observational comedy from the traditional office Christmas party featured “quiet Michael” who “got pissed” and “put his d*** in the boss’ soup”. Ha bloody ha.

This is what mainstream comedy shows are like on the BBC these days. Bit of smut, and everyone, including the studio audience, is giggling insanely.

As for sitcoms and comedy drama, the Beeb’s totally lost the plot. The latest pale offering is Grandma’s House (BBC2). It is part written by the highly irritating comedian and TV presenter Simon Amstell, and is intended as a “star” vehicle for him.

Amstell – the smug, bitchy host of Never Mind the Buzzcocks – now plays a young man who is part of an extended and vaguely Jewish family, where his mum has a new fellow in her life.

The characters are mainly Jewish momma types from central casting, and the actors struggle heroically with the clunky script. Amstell’s character is meant to be in turns bemused, made weary and amused by members of his family.

On watching the first episode, the bemusement and the weariness worked well enough for me – but the amusement factor never really kicked in.