Tag Archives: Benny Hill

Never Mind The Buzzcocks

Thanks to another recently converted-to-region free DVD player, I’ve been catching up on some great comedy from across the Big Pond. Although most of my also-converted money has been going for stand-up comedy shows, I’ve also been loading up on some bargains on comic panel shows like Mock The Week, 8 out of 10 Cats and an old favorite, Never Mind The Buzzcocks. In 2009, an excellent DVD was released featuring clips from the show’s lengthy run under recent host Simon Amstell with great featurettes and gag reels.

Amstell is a cocky, cheek host who (depending on which year’s hairstyle) looks like a cross between Michael Cera and a pre-weightlifting Carrot Top. The irreverent panel show features a host and two teams of comics and pop culture stars, many of whom are complete unknowns stateside but household words there, like longtime team captain Bill Bailey, Jack Dee, Frank Skinner, Catherine Tate, Frankie Boyle and Martin Freeman. Of course many pop culture celebrities would appear as guests to take the piss out of themselves and others, most of whom got into the spirit of the event, although when they didn’t (I’m talking to you, Lemmy!) that could be fun as well. Many appear on this DVD; two of the funniest are Russell Brand and Amy Winehouse, albeit for opposite reasons.

I first heard of the show years ago and tuned in because I thought it was actually about The Buzzcocks, one of the finest bands of the late 70s punk pop movement. (The show did get its title by mixing  the band name and the Sex Pistols album Never Mind The Bollocks). Although initially disappointed, I was soon swept up into the pulse of the show, which ranges from good sarcastic fun to sheer lunacy. Pop culture cows are gutted and nothing – and no one – is sacred. My younger daughter is a fan of the show, and this holiday we skipped the usual Sci-Fi marathons to watch every minute of this great collection.

Is there a Doctor in the house?

I used to watch the show on occasion as various cable packages over the years were sketchy on what UK programming might be included in the package. Perhaps like Monty Python and Benny Hill, it was the PBS station to the rescue once again. (Yet another reason to support their annual fund-raising drive when the envelopes arrive in December!) As with many successful UK shows, eventually the US tries to copy it. Hard to believe that I not only forgot that this happened with Buzzcocks, but also that the host of the US version was one of my favorites, Marc Maron. (The show lasted one season on vH-1.)

Some households gorge on college football during the Thanksgiving holidays.

I’ll take comedy every time.

The show’sWiki page and list of episodes.

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Forty Years of Python

I want to start an argument

I want to start an argument

You’re either in or you’re out.

You either get it, or you don’t.

You can either recite the entire sketch by heart – hell, some entire movies by heart – or you can’t.

And if you’re in those latter camps, you’ll just never understand the clandestine language that Monty Python fans share. It’s like a secret handshake – overhear someone dropping a classic line about silly walks, or dead parrots, or Mary, Queen of Scots, and it’s an open invitation to join the conversation and be accepted all in one fell swoop. Skull and Bones never had anything this insidious, this lethal, this great. The Pythons might not have pioneered sketch comedy in Britain, but for reasons I (and they) can’t understand, they crossed The Big Pond and twisted our minds in a different way than Benny Hill or Peter Cook or even Peter Sellers could. What began as a cult is now an inseparable part of the American comedy fabric.

For the past 24 hours, you couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing some combination of John Cleese and Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle hamming it up with newscasters, talk show hosts and…well, pretty much anyone who would have them. Michael Palin was traveling, but even the late Graham Chapman made an appearance (even though he had ceased to be…)

Why another British Invasion? It’s the fortieth anniversary of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and the surviving members of the troupe are here in the United States to accept an award and to revel in the six part series Almost The Truth (The Lawyer’s Cut). If you missed that ceremony tonight, click here. The six part documentary starts airing on IFC on October 18th.

Better yet? The series is available on DVD just nine days later(a link to my published review will follow in the coming days). This project is not yet another collection of broadcast clips, but a combination of recent interviews and archival footage that follows the troupe from inception to legend, featuring input from several of today’s leading comedic lights. I’s truly special.

So buckle up. And always look on the bright side of life.

Here’s a link to a poor soul who had his mind twisted. As for me…well, I’m a lumberjack and I’m O.K.

 Forty Years of Monty Python

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