I started watching this boxset of the first two series of Little Britain with a completely open mind. I hadn't watched the series on TV because comedies are rather hit and miss for the most part and the only clip I had seen featured David Walliams prancing about in a dress doing that annoying woman's voice he is so fond of. Anyway, back to the open mind bit - I wasn't going to be dissuaded by one clip and a rather picky sense of humour; lots of people liked this series and lots of people can't be wrong, right?
First of all let's put “British Comedy” into some kind of perspective. It goes without saying that some of the funniest programs to ever grace our beloved screens come from this haloed isle of dreary, incessant, mediocrity. Take Yes Prime Minister, Fawlty Towers or Spaced. All of these programs have a certain something representing a creative apogee that is rarely approached never mind met or overshadowed. Listening to the various plaudits about the country it would appear that the funniest sketch is no longer the kicking of Bishop Brenan on Father Ted's Craggy Island. No longer do we have to wait for the next rib crackingly funny British TV series because it has already arrived. However, until Hyperdrive is released on disc, we'll have to make do with Little Britain - possibly one of the most obdurately wearisome displays of public comedy since the inception of warm meals. In fact try typing “Overrated British comedy series” and click “I'm feeling lucky” on Google.co.uk. If nothing has changed, the all seeing oracle that is Google will return a site featuring Little Britain. And oh how right that is.
Most prominent in my mind when watching Little Britain was a sketch that was voted the funniest sketch ever, ever in a TV poll - the ones that Channel 4 like so much. The sketch in question is where the relentlessly unfunny wheelchair character runs to the dive board, jumps into a pool and swims back to his chair. Just the mere thought of such a hugely comedic sketch has me laughing from my very soul (note, sarcasm). Despite so many people voting for this, about four of them must have been in the audience when the sketch was shown so muted was the laughter. My Left Foot has more comedic highs than the entire series as a whole.
Now, that comment regarding My Left Foot may upset some folk as the movie is a true story about a spastic quadriplegic. Such thoughts are pertinent to Little Britain as the series flirts closely with the bleeding edge of public acceptance. Of course, there is a fine line to be drawn between hard edged comedy and an easy target for getting that shock laugh. Little Britain can never be accused of playing it safe, indeed the bare faced audacity of the writers is one of Little Britains only strong points. Sometimes I wonder if the “tasteless” edge in 'Britain's sketches are there to make up for a lack of truly innovative writing. Whereas something like Ali G is wrapped in many layers of innocence bred from anything but, Little Britain goes for shock values as there is nothing else there.
Let's face it, homosexuality is not funny and hasn't been since Kenny Everet graced our tubes in the 80's. Frankly, public opinion has moved on a tad since then, making the entire Prime Minister sketch seem hopelessly old school. The only Gay in the Village seems to poke knowing fun to this situation, but after the first two sketches you quickly realise there is precious little beyond the latex wrapped character outré wardrobe.
It is this lack of depth which is the main issue I have with Little Britain. I find it difficult to understand how so many folk find this program funny while I despise the program like a leper colony. I mean, virtually all of the characters are nothing but vapid and jejune concoctions that have the same wholesome shelf life of road kill. Little Britain is doomed to repeat the same jokes for the same characters in the same manner in an unconvincing parade of cheap shots using the lowest possible denominator in order to attain some tacit facsimile of self identity. In actuality, Little Britain is nothing but a desolate, barren husk, utterly void of imaginative skill or humour.
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