I'm not sure the US has ever been more enthusiastic about British comedy than it is right now. Thanks to Veep and to Hulu’s uncensored screening of The Thick of it, excitement about Armando Iannucci has reached near-Olympic levels. And just last week, HBO announced a remake of award-winning BBC sitcom Getting On, a bleak take on nursing in an underfunded hospital.
Judging by shows like these as well critical faves like The Office and cult sitcoms from Peep Show to The IT Crowd, it must seem that all UK comedy shares a certain aesthetic. It's painfully-observed, harshly-lit, darkly funny, and of course, full of swears.
Andy Samberg may be done with SNL, but that doesn't mean he'll stop appearing on your TV. At least if you live in the UK. He's signed on to star in the upcoming BBC Three series Cuckoo alongside Greg Davies, the Post reported today (the news actually came out a couple months ago but this was the first we'd heard of it). He'll play "an idle young man who marries a British girl," the overprotective father of which will be played by Davies. There's no word on when the show is set to premiere, but expect the sort of short, six-episode season that's the norm over [...]
Ricky Gervais has a new show premiering on Channel 4 in the UK on Thursday entitled Derek. In it, he plays the titular character, a nursing home employee who sure appears to have some mental disabilities of one kind or another. He's coming under some fire for making fun of the disabled, but he defended himself by saying that “Derek is a fictional character and is defined by his creator. Me. If I say I don’t mean him to be disabled then that’s it. A fictional doctor can’t come along and prove me wrong.” Which is a fair point! But it's also fair for people to assume the [...]
Catherine Tate's returning to The Office tonight as Nellie Bertram, who'll have a "far from professional" relationship with Robert California. Tate herself isn't exactly forthcoming about her favorite sketches from The Catherine Tate Show, her 2004-2007 sketch comedy show, but here are a few clips to get you familiar.
British comedian Simon Amstell’s career is deeply rooted in his own anxiety and awkwardness. His pensive, neurotic nature was explored in his 2010 stand-up special Do Nothing, where he opened with the line, “I’m quite lonely, let’s start with that.” He recently finished starring in the second season of the BBC sitcom he co-created, Grandma’s House, in which he played a pensive, neurotic comedian named Simon Amstell who is searching for greater meaning in his life.
He’s brought his new show Numb to New York for a five-week residency at Theatre 80. I caught up with him recently to discuss shameful honesty, being the new guy, and [...]
The Paley Center for Media, which has locations in both New York and LA, dedicates itself to the preservation of television and radio history. Inside their vast archives of more than 120,000 television shows, commercials, and radio programs, there are thousands of important and funny programs waiting to be rediscovered by comedy nerds like you and me. Each week, this column will highlight a new gem waiting for you at the Paley Library to quietly laugh at. (Seriously, it’s a library, so keep it down.)
Hey, do you know The Goon Show? It was a radio show that aired on the BBC in the fifties that was written chiefly [...]
Beloved web series Ronna & Beverly didn't get picked up after its 2008 pilot in the US, but Sky Atlantic HD in the UK has ordered six episodes of the mock talk show, with Paul Feig producing. Guess the British did a better job of appreciating Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo's characters. “British audiences responded to these overbearing American characters, and the show is Ab Fab meets everyone’s obnoxious parents who ask horrifying questions,” said Feig. Fingers crossed for your return to the US, Ronna and Bev, but until then, cheerio, have fun driving on the left side of the road, and don't fall down the apples [...]
The Secret Policeman’s Ball, the legendary British charity event benefitting Amnesty International, is taking up residence at Radio City Music Hall on March 4. It’s scheduled to feature a smorgasbord of American and British comedians, including Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Russell Brand, Reggie Watts, Sarah Silverman, Kristen Wiig, Peter Serafinowicz, and Noel Fielding. The New York Times reported this morning that the show will air on the cable channel Epix and stream online at EpixHD.com.
The Secret Policeman’s shows date back to 1975, a time before Live Aid or Comic Relief when the idea of a celebrity benefit gala was still a bit novel. Amnesty International was a fledgling [...]
“I could get tables at a moments notice. I was stopped on the street by people telling me how ‘unbelievable’ my show was. I was hot and it felt goooooooood. And then, live on the air in the sixth and final episode of my chat show, I shot a man through the heart with a gun.” — From Chapter 13, “Lift Off, Show-Wise”, of I, Partridge
Upon finishing I, Partridge on January 3rd I made the somewhat rash declaration that it would be the best book that I will read in 2012. I suspect that devoted Steve Coogan/Alan Partridge fans that get their hands on this endlessly quotable [...]
Info about the upcoming Alan Partridge movie is starting to emerge, and although it's a long way off, it's exciting that it's happening at all. It's set to start shooting in January with a release date of August 7, 2013. In the UK. It's not clear when it'll premiere in the States, but hopefully not long after that. It's been written by Peter Baynham, Steve Coogan, Armando Iannucci, Neil and Rob Gibbons and will be directed Declan Lowney. Here's how Coogan described the plot: Alan is in Norwich. It's not “Alan goes to Hollywood”; it's not “Alan invaded by aliens” or anything like that. He's on North [...]
Gervais is kind of becoming the Kanye West of comedy, as both are prolific, incredibly successful, continuously lauded geniuses with heavy crown issues. So when a few people pointed out that his new character, Derek, might be offensive to the mentally disabled, he puffed out his chest and started railing against his detractors. In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live he said, “Every single week has been the end of my career if you believe six or seven journalists. It makes no difference to me or my work. I don't care if people like it or not. I'm happy with it.” Listen to the audio [...]
According to Ricky Gervais, An Idiot Abroad's Karl Pilkington and Warwick Davis of Life's Too Short will star in The Short Way Round, in which the two go on "bike riding adventure together throughout different countries." Poor Karl. When are they gonna let him stay home and have tea?
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