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Posts tagged as british comedy

Unlocking the Hitchcockian Claustrophobia of 'Psychoville's Single-Take Bottle Episode

‘Genie in a Bottle’ is a recurring feature where each week a different bottle episode (an episode set entirely in one location, often designed to save money) from a comedy series is examined

"You’re my little Superman. Don’t you forget that."

Psychoville, as its name may indicate, is a pretty bonkers show. Created by Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, the minds behind The League of Gentlemen (as well as the bottle-centric Inside No. 9, which has previously appeared here), it’s a weird British comedy that starts as a humble I Know What You Did Last Summer riff and ends up going as far as Nazi reincarnation. Everything about this [...]

A Look Back At John Oliver's Pre-'Daily Show' Work

John Oliver has been killing it as the guest host of The Daily Show this summer. He’s tackled major intelligence scandals, game-changing legal decisions, and untimely power outages so perfectly that it’s hard to believe this isn’t his full time job (…yet). Undoubtedly, part of the reason he’s such a natural is his length of time with the show – he joined the cast of The Daily Show in July 2006, and the writing staff the following year. He’s now beloved in the US, hosting his own Comedy Central standup show, recurring on Community, and co-hosting the excellent satirical podcast The Bugle. But when he crossed [...]

Fun Thing to Buy of the Day: The Original UK Series 'Pulling'

Earlier this week a few changes were announced in the cast of ABC's comedy pilot Pulling. Mandy Moore left the pilot and the already-cast June Diane Raphael was joined by Jenny Slate and Kristen Schaal, making the Pulling into one of the more promising prospects of pilot season, at least in terms of really funny women in the cast. The show is based on the British series of the same name created by and starring Sharon Horgan (The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret) as one of three single females living in south-east London. Seasons one and two are both available on Amazon [...]

'Cuckoo', Andy Samberg's BBC Sitcom, Coming Back for Another Season

Cuckoo, the BBC Three sitcom in which Andy Samberg plays an American hippie slacker who's the nightmare of his father-in-law, was the most popular new show on the network last year when it premiered. So it's not a huge surprise that it looks like it'll be returning for a second series later this year. It's not clear whether or not Samberg will return, but with British sitcoms generally having six-episode seasons, compared to 22 for their American counterparts, it would certainly be a much smaller commitment than playing a regular role on, say, Parks and Rec.

Six Relatively Obscure British Comedies You May Have Missed

To any comedy nerd with a knowledge of bittorrents or a region free DVD player, the following British shows aren’t necessarily obscure. But they are obscurish. Most people don’t know about them and no one has tried to fashion an American re-make for all the supposed knuckle-draggers who can’t parse slight accents or understand slang from context. And no one’s really touched them for good reason. They are, for the most part, surreal, sad, abrasive and absurd to the point of severe comedic dissonance – the feeling you get in your head from watching psychedelic fast-paced nonsense like Stella or Xavier: Renegade Angel. These shows are great and some [...]

The Gospel According to Barley

Nathan Barley is like treasure. It’s a British sitcom that aired ten years ago, with six sweet episodes eviscerating urban tech-chic culture. I’m talking diamond-hard satire, the kind that makes you laugh with the bitter taste of bile in the back of your throat, and re-shapes your view of the world in the process. Before we had the word “hipster,” before YouTube existed, before smartphones and Facebook and Twitter, Nathan Barley drove a hot iron spike into the heart of our narcissistic, trivia obsessed, self-promotional, media-laden times.

But nobody seems to have heard of it.

On the North American side of the pond, anyway, the show never took off. I’m [...]

The Sneaky Smarts of Russell Brand

Russell Brand is one of those comedians who, despite selling out theaters all over the world and starring in several films throughout the past decade, I have simply not paid much attention to. Perhaps it's due to my American-centric worldview, but Brand never quite jumped on my radar as far as standup comedy goes. It seems that I've been guilty of a particular form of American exceptionalism, in that I don’t really pay attention to standup from other countries nor give foreign standups much of a chance at all. This is a particularly hypocritical on my part as I write weekly about keeping an open mind toward all kinds [...]

It's Online and It's Free, So Why Aren't You Watching 'Smack the Pony'?

If you read Splitsider, you’ve probably got one or two favorite British comedy series that you’ve watched through and through, that you’re always eager to push on someone who hasn’t seen them. Mine is one that doesn’t come up often enough with comedy nerds, at least in my experience: It’s Smack the Pony, the female-led sketch series that ran on Channel 4 from 1999 to 2003. Popular during its run in England, Smack the Pony drew enthusiastic reviews and a handful of awards, but it doesn’t enjoy the reputation that other solid British series do. However, the entire series run is available on Hulu — that is, regular [...]

Inside Britain's Growing Comedy Crisis

For the past few years, America has been experiencing a spectacularly creative comedy boom that continues to grow. But in the UK, the comedy scene may be heading in the other direction. For the past decade, live and televised comedy have been big business in Britain. Stand-up shows like Live at the Apollo and Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow brought rising talent to mainstream attention, and panel shows established a wide pool of popular comedians. This led to massive theatre tours and hundreds of standup DVDs released every Christmas. But like all bubbles, it was bound to burst, and the comedy community, particularly in London, is reeling as things [...]

Watching the Hitler-Based Sitcom Pilot (Yes, Really) 'Heil Honey I'm Home'

Sometimes TV shows drag their unfunny, uninteresting, yet highly rated feet across our living rooms for years. “Who let this happen?” we ponder as our foreheads turn red from frequent smacks. Other times, the powers that be get things right. That’s where “Brilliantly Canceled” comes in, looking at the shows that didn’t pass their pilot and saved us all a ton of grief. 

Upon viewing the pilot for the British comedy Heil Honey I'm Home, several questions come to mind. "What am I doing in Hitler's house? Why are his neighbors Jewish? Why is he calling me ‘honey’?" All fair concerns when discussing one of history's most vile and [...]

Marty Feldman's Recently Discovered Memoirs to Be Published in November

Chortle reports that the unpublished memoirs of Marty Feldman, legendary British comedy writer/performer and star of Mel Brooks's Young Frankenstein, have recently been found in Feldman's former Los Angeles home. "It's Marty's story from his impoverished childhood in East London in the 1930s to all the famous people he knew, like David Frost, John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle," said LA nightclub owner Mark Flanagan, who inherited the property from Feldman's widow Lauretta and discovered the writing. Titled Eye Marty, the book will be available this November (pre-order here) and according to a publisher spokesman, the book is "exactly as Feldman wrote it, his great friend [...]

That's Not Funny, That's Sexist: The Controversial Legacy of Benny Hill

The Benny Hill Show towered over even Monty Python in terms of worldwide appeal and popularity in its hey day, which is just astounding. However, history rewards the victors and while Monty Python looms large over sketch comedy even today, Benny Hill has been reduced to a curious footnote in comedy history. While both share an enthusiasm for absurdity, Monty Python’s sketches often featured a healthy dose of cerebral satire buried within the anarchic foolishness. Hill, however, strikes modern viewers as broad and cartoonish, avoiding subtly altogether.

Make no mistake; Benny Hill was a huge comedic presence for twenty years (1969-1989) during the run of his titular The Benny [...]

Channel 4 Is Likely to Order Matt Berry's 'Toast of London' to Series

UK network Channel 4 is close to ordering Matt Berry's pilot Toast of London to series, British Comedy Guide reports. Fans of British comedy surely know Berry from IT Crowd, Snuff Box, Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, and just about every other amazing TV comedy to come out of England in the past decade. Toast of London stars Berry as a respected dramatic actor dealing with a career fallout after starring in a controversial play. Written by Matt Berry and Arthur Matthews (Father Ted), the pilot aired last year as a part of Channel 4's series Funny Fortnight. Channel 4 has ordered additional scripts of the show but has [...]

'The Thick of It': the Most Perfectly Obscene TV Show Ever

If you were to make a chart of British influence upon the United States, a start at around 100 percent on the morning of Lexington and Concord would drift relentlessly towards the bottom right corner over time, except in one regard — television. From American Idol to The Office to Trading Spaces to Prime Suspect to America’s Got Talent to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, our appetite for concepts coined in London remains positively colonial.

As some sort of sop to national pride, these efforts are made over in our own image of course, with new performers, writers, and creators (occasional hold-over viceroys like Simon Cowell and Piers [...]