Belfast Telegraph

TV View: Pointing the finger of blame at crimes against comedy

The programmes to watch and the ones you really want to miss

By Joe Nawaz

There's a lot to get depressed about. For starters there's the flat pack assembly of buffoons, mountebanks and charlatans atop The Hill, currently tripping over their own shoelaces to make a strong case for direct rule. Then there's those cuts that threaten to lacerate what's left of the flimsy fabric of our society.

In such hard times, they say, satire thrives and comedic knives are sharpened to within an atom-width. Or failing that comedy can helps us laugh through the hard times, offering a balm against the bumptious.

If you prefer, there's a third way: You could strategically plough your TV comedy budget into the facsimile of a panel show, and do a bunch of lame gags in reference to a mildly controversial week-old TV programme about a small ailing coastal town. And if that isn't satirical enough for you, why not have "the boys" (plus token woman/ English person) travel to Larne for extra frisson? Because as we know, wherever "the boys" go, mayhem and irreverent hi-jinks are sure to follow. Or should that be a BBC production and camera crew?

If you're still in the dark dear reader, I'm referring to the (unbelievably) 12th series of the Blame Game, whose chief distinguishing feature is that it bears no resemblance to Have I Got News for You.

I don't know if it's because BBC NI is crippled by a sense of parity of esteem in their output - which in other sectors of cultural life has bequeathed us bog oak carving and creationism - thereby creating a show where the only demographic offended are lovers of comedy.

"A show that does for the news what a BBC documentary does for the image of Larne" was the totally topical opening gambit. And we're in LAAARNE!!!" yelled McGarry, delivering the comedy Coup de gah.

And if you were the one viewer who was stunned by the sheer chutzpah of these comedy desperados, you'd have been rolling around the floor in frenzied convulsions of hilarity when he added: "It's like Jim Allister being sent in to referee a GAA match". Although, not before carefully moving the coffee table to one side out of harm's way.

I kept thinking back to Colin the Office Joker character from the Fast Show. You remember the one who wore a zany tie? Like a pug with a heroin-flavoured chop, Tim simply wouldn't let it drop. "If sending us up (to Larne) seems a little mad to you…" was followed by "faster than a BBC camera Crew out of Larne", as the Larne audience applauded on carded cue.

It wasn't all Larne-laced laughs however. "Imagine if James Bond was from Northern Ireland. Quantum of Flegs! Fleg-Finger!" From Russia with Flegs, and Dr Fleg must have been cut from the script due to time constraints.

In the midst of all of this anarchic mayhem, token woman/ English person Tiff Stephenson queered the pitch by saying something funny about Kim Kardashians. There was some awkward, polite laughter and she was thanked "for that". I've mentioned before that nominally good comedians get skewered by the Blame Game format, it's as if BBC NI producers, as I've often suspected, are from Mars and have been told about comedy panel shows, but haven't actually seen one before.

Lads' lad Dapper will leave viewers reeling

"Y'alright slaaags? I'm Dapper Laughs. I'm a bearded Laandaan internet personality. An' in my new show, I 'elp blokes pull birds by leerin' and sneerin' at 'em. But this week, I've got a bird to sort out. And if I can't help her pull, I'm gonna shag her. Only kiddin' - Gotta be professional. Gotta keep the mouse in the house. Hello bird, I thought you'd be wonky looking. But turns out, I'd have a go. Only kiddin' love. But I would. Really. I can't believe nobody would shag ya. So let's get you shagged."

I swear, I've barely altered a syllable. Aside from the "internet personality" bit, I mean - who says that about themselves? For the mercifully uninitiated, "lads' lad" Dapper Laughs prods, gurns, salivates and drops "cheeky" lines like "while yer down there love" which the ladies love, apparently.

In this jaw-droppingly dated show, Dapper "assists" those with less facial topiary, hair gel and surety about their place in the world to "shag".

I'm actually still reeling from watching it this week.

It's either the worst TV programme ever, or the sharpest satire on masculine idiocy since Alfie.

If so, Blame Game take note…

A fitting tribute to the genius of Gerry... a master of broadcasting

There were a lot of words thrown around in Remembering Gerry, like "innovative", and "genius" as peers gathered to reminisce about the master broadcaster, sadly not around for his 70th birthday.

He was all those things, but he was also utterly unique in our broadcasting landscape.

In all that warmth and playful caustic asidery, he was his show.

It's why there'll never be another like it, and it's why we all had a bit of a blub at the end when he was heard narrating some of his last recorded words about his first love - Derry.

A fitting televisual tribute to the great man.

And great to be reminded of those titles from Anderson on the Box.

Switch on

Missing/Rome the World's First Superpower

Two programmes almost as distinct as the Blame Game and Have I Got News for You. Superior new Jimmy Nesbitt (right) drama promises to make Tuesdays a little more tense than most of us are used to, and it's a joy to see Larry Lamb gallivanting through ancient Rome like a Vandal on the sack.

Switch off

The Nolan Show

Was I imagining things on the Nolan show? Was that really the horrific Edwina Currie sporting a poppy as large as her horrifically coiffured pea-head exonerating fellow politician Jim Wells following his unsavoury comments this week? I don't know; coming over here, taking our bigoted political opinions….

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