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{Friday}

 
PULL HARDER

As someone who sat stony-faced and vaguely disapproving* through the entire two series of Nighty Night, I'm not a viewer you can make laugh simply by saying the unsayable or doing the shouldn't-do-able.

But I have to say: I haven't laughed more at anything ALL YEAR**, than at Karl's moustache-related suicide attempt in PULLING [BBC3] last night. Funnier than the entire two last series of Curb Your Enthusiasm put together - if by funny, of course, you mean something that makes you howl with laughter, rather than grimace with a vague, wishy washy "respect"***.

If I detect a 'theme', it's to do with a lurking and hurting and messy Real under a certain have-it-all notion of swinging-drinking-shagging ladette life. If I forsee a problem, it's the possibility that EVERY SINGLE character is potentially so annoying - including mere incidental characters - it might become a bit airless by, I dunno, episode 5 say. But at the same time you don't want a perversely "nice" huggy this-is-a-moral "change" to interrupt things, either.

Still, to make me laugh as much as they have this far is going some.
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*{Not in any "moral" way, you understand: I just thought it was incredibly LAZY.

**{ and yet, I just Googled it, to try and get an interview with the creators or a few pix to use - and NOTHING. A big fat nothing. (O sure - you can probably download the week after next's episode onto the dashboard of your electric car - but I'm talking about FUSS. How come Lead Balloon gets all the groundswell huzzah and this doesn't? (Could it all be a bit Victorian? That drunken single women, like the drug taking 'working classes' of Ideal, aren't quite as culturally presentable as the well-off middle class white guy act of Lead Balloon? Just saying, like, guv'nor...)

***{Is comedy going through a pre-Punk 1970s jazz-rock concept album type phase? In which we all respect the "technique" and whoa!-beyond-imaginative "whackiness" but .. just want an opening chord that makes us jump in the air? Well, Karl's blue face (and moustache) (and attendant boner) were that chord for me. (That would make all those ENDLESS interchangeable news/statistics/celeb "quiz" shows the equivalent of the chummy 1970s solo album with loads of coked-out guest mates.) ((And probably makes the incredibly clever-but-SO-BLOODY-WHAT Green Wing the Tales of Topographic Oceans of this particular cul-de-sac.)

posted by Ian 12/01/2006 07:39:00 AM

Comments:
as an UNDYING YES FAN who recently got into a bitter argt w.similar over the SELF-EVIDENT FACT (disputed by mr similar but WRONGLY) that what was wrong w.topographic especially is of course r.wakeman's POVERTY of technique i have to dispute this obv --

largely i think bcz -- in both cases actuallybut most pertinently (since i don't want to stink up the pill box w.arguments abt HOW GREAT YES ARE) green wing's -- the issue isn't "cleverness" (or even confusion of pseudo-cleverness with same) but a peculiar intensity of silliness (ie gw became much funnier when you stopped overthinking it), which is really just compensatory humour for those of us who work in offices i think -- presenting the self-seriousness of managerial theory as gibberish enacted by sinister-yet-sad-yet-sinister clowns (sadly recognisable clowns)
 
Rewatching Chris Morris' stuff recently inspired feelings you outline above. A lot of 'respect' and 'admiration' - but never really laughing out loud. It's dated so much - or maybe that's because of the legion of 'mini-morrises' that came afterwards.

I think I'm alone in preferring 'Nathan Barley' to 'Jam' (much better on radio) and all his 'prank news' stuff (god, what lazy opportunists that inspired - Dom Joly? Sacha-Baron? DAISY DONOVAN?

It looks like Morris has been deified so much that his disciples have been running over themselves to be contemptuously 'clever' (the Office)instead of har-har FUNNY (Black Books). But belly laughs aren't worthy of fawning admiration in the sunday broadsheets...
AGUIRRE
 
"belly laughs aren't worthy of fawning admiration in the sunday broadsheets" = absolutely true but hence leads to profund reviewer misperception i think (ie desperate praise of irrelevent elements at such a pitch that you get put off the actual content right in front of yr eyes)

(seeing as i stopped reading the sundays IN THE 80S bcz of the pernicious ignorant nonsense they were even then full of, i blame YOU more than THEM for keeping them on lifesupport by actually paying for them still; and letting them damage yr reception responses!!)
 
ian have you read (my very close friend so i'm biased) ben thompson's book on comedy LIKE SUNSHINE ON PUTTY? i think he is acute on the morris dilemma (and genuine cleverness is the issue here -- but genuine cleverness as a substitute for, well, content, is a post-punk thing not a prog thing)

post-punk and prog are kissing cousins if not closer, with all the wrong issues resolved -- green wing is the HOW LONG MUST WE TOLERATE MASS MURDER? of comedy (ok it's not i just said that for the gag)
 
green wing is the HOW LONG MUST WE TOLERATE MASS MURDER? of comedy

If only it were...
 
a pop group unafraid of themselves when silly would indeed have been an awesome thing -- early i think they even almost had this ("she is beyond" is VERY silly but that's also why it's strong and odd and good)

i think what i've come to hate abt the effect of punk-in-its-media-triumphalism is how everyone is always nervously looking over their shoulder, terrified about how they're coming across -- is my hair right, is my politics right, am i showing too much self-serious about [insert uncool interest]?

tho even rereading this, i realise i'm probably caught up in a requirement that legislates more nervous self-consciousness, not less (and that i'm as selective as anyone else about who i let off the hook

ie i am tolerantly ok with GW for "just getting on with being silly", as a diverting craft technique without great social ambitions or pretensions (arguing that what pretensions they are said to have are projected onto them by the timidity of the audience that enjoys them)

but i won't let PG off a very similar hook? (ie take the on-u noizedub project as the "diverting craft technique" with its own embedded politics, and argue that their faintly absurd political pretensions can be waved away as core audience selfprotective projection, hence irrelevant

but why are rick wakeman's keyboard runs less obnoxious to me than, as insta-plug-in to intellectual respectability, the m.stewart's equally pre-formed political "keyboard-runs"?

(purely personal ans = i suppose bcz i am obsessed w.watchamacall the embedded politics of music and musicality, and overt normal received-radical politics serves to obscure this as a topic of enquiry, more so when i'm in sympathy with it than agin it)
 
If 'Green Wing' is 'For How Much Longer Must We Tolerate Mass Murder', does that make 'Ideal' a comedy 'Live at The Witch Trials'?

Is 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' our 'Remain in Light'?

The League of Gentleman must be '20 Jazz Funk Greats'?

'The Thick of It' - gotta be Gang of Four!

Re: Popstars looking silly - Kate Bush has never been afraid of being preposterous - and has pulled it off beautifully for three decades (top ten hits about Wilhelm Reich?!?)

Also, unlike Rick Wakeman, it is doubtful that Mark Stewart would be seen hanging out with Jim Davidson! However, Mark would probably be up for a stage show of 'Polpot's Year Zero - on Ice'; and the fuckin' Wire would lap it up!
AGUIRRE
 
on lapping up "pol pot's year zero on ice" -- so would i!
 
Mark S. - get on the blower to Mark Stewart and get this show on the road! It could be an 'Evita' for all the crusty/punker/raver/dubber/progger//electro/altrocker/junglist/freejazzers (what a demographic!)
Actually, nevermind Evita - it could be the 21st century's very own 'Rite of Spring'!
AGUIRRE
 
One other return-of-the-repressed question we might pose here is: where does JACKASS fit into all this? It's interesting if only be virtue of being one of those phenomena where, the more embarrassed delciately shuddering middle-brow critics execrate it, the more popular it becomes. (I think I'm right in saying that Jackass 2 has actually been even more popular than 1.)
I never found it funny myself - but then I doubt I'm the targt audience. And I didnt find it objectionable - I just always thought the stunts were far funnier as anticipation, as idea, then they evr were actualised, when they seemed (to me) relentlessly, grindingly anti-climactic.

Ditto the Wlesh version - Dirty Sanchez; altho I thought there was something more interesting - and touching - going on there, as a (self) portrait of a bunch of mates, in an otherwise maybe bleak social landscape, forging a strange kind of subtsvycultural/familial island.
 
(No, I have no idea what "subtsvycultural' means, either. Time for a second coffee, I think.)
 
obviously it is the slave half of TOPsyturvycultural!!

on FT or ilx or somewhere similarly er authoritative we concluded that the ultimate jackass stunt wz goin to be a full-on full-penetration all-male orgy to PROVE TO THEMSELVES AND THE WORLD how utterly totally not gay they all are! THEY ARE ALL SO GAY! and hurrah it is kind of sweet... so dense with a yearning for untrammeled entry into a pirate community of "masterless" men
 
note to self: must stop viewing the entire world through the narrow lens of pat califia stories (the relevant one = "belonging")
 
PS
My Green Wing/Topographic Oceans line wasa bit lazily off-top-my-head, on-the way-out-the-door.
I will say:
1) i do enjoy watching Green Wing. There is a kind of balletic/hypnotic effect at work, that definitely pulls you in. It's Very Well Made. But it's just that it was one of the first placs I noticed this effect I'm talking about - Comedies I admire, but don't actually ever laugh at.
2) even when I was listening to other Prog stuff, in my teens, I never liked Yes. Didnt like Jon Andersons voice.
I prefered Man - who were like the Dirty Snachez of Prog, ha ha, not so po faced, slightly dirtier, Trickster-ish, in a genuinely Celtic kind of way.

I agree that dividing everything into pre-Punk=BAD and post-Punk=Good is terminally lazy and WRONG, yes. (Esp as so many people didnt fit into that neat division: Lydon> Hammill; Scrits>Canterbury, to name just two. And loads of people liked Eno, Alice Cooper, B.O.C., etc.)

But I am having trouble going along with the current Prog revival/re appropriation, for all that. I do have such bad memories of the first time around.... for every Alice Cooper there was a Ten Years After; for every Annette Peacock a Billy Cobham.)

B-u-t then again ...
Vertigo/Harvest were intersting labels - home to certain bands who, like Man, eldued definitive categoristion: a lil bit pub rock, a lil bit prog, a lil bit English Mystic/magick or genuine Heavy Metal - Soft Machine, Dr Strangely Strange, Alex Harvey, BeBop Deluxe, Juicy Lucy, Third Ear Band, Edgar Boughton... and Van der Graaf/Hammill of course, altho I cant remember what label they/he wuz on.

(Hhhhmmm... I remember taping long BeBop Deluxe pieces on Alan Freeman's Saturday afternoon show, one finger hovering over the PAUSE button...
RIP, Fluff. Awright? )
 
It's a while since I read either of them*, but isn't JACKASS a bit more Dennis Cooper (albeit only potentially, or sublimated) than Califia?

*{ although once read, never forgotten!
 
BTW
last week...

Allen Carr, ANTI SMOKING guru, died, aged ... 72.

Alan 'Fluff' Freeman, inveterate CHAIN SMOKER, died, aged ... 79.

Ha!
 
as an expert on jackass, dirty sanchez and the backlasah against both, i can say with authority that it's the middlebrow critics who're digging it. DS andd jackass are an obviously flagged CHALLENGE to critics and prudes -- so obviously that the middlebrows have no problem in saying "i get it!"

peter bradshaw, case in point.

in the case of jackass they can bring in the 'hey, spike jonze is involved!' angle to make it ok.

miranda sawyer, another case in point.

dirty sanchez the movie was like woah, and much better and much more disgusting, but both jackass films are abject.
 
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