Comedy can be a very personal thing.
You find Big Momma’s House funny. I disassociate myself from you completely.
But there are degrees. I find Catherine Tate personable, but her show was full of overlong sketches that were the same joke week in week out. Little Brtiain became very lazy, again suffering from the same jokes on a repeat basis. Benidorm does well for ITV, but it passes me by.
But they pale into insignificance compared with the programme I’ve just seen on BBC1.
Mrs Brown’s Boys is a sitcom seemingly co-produced by the BBC and RTÉ, starring Brendan O’Carroll and set in Ireland. The Mrs Brown character – essentially a drag act – is something that O’Carroll has had for years in a number of shows and tours. As far as I can tell, this is the first televised incarnation of the character. Although one can only summise that the character has something of a following.
Like one of Tate’s character, Mrs Brown, the character that O’Carroll plays, is predicated on a single thing: it’s “hilarious” that an old lady swears like a sailor. Swearing can be funny – look no further than Father Jack or the very clever swearing in The Thick of It – but unless you’re smart it’s just wearing. And it ceases to be funny very very quickly. And there’s more swearing in this than an average episode of The Sopranos.
But that’s not the main problem. The show just isn’t funny at all. I didn’t laugh once. Even smirk.
Indeed from the outset, I couldn’t understand why the laugh track was so pumped up. There’s a live audience there for sure – we see them on a couple of occassions when the fourth wall is broken. Indeed the cast take a bow at the end. But despite that, it feels as though it’s been added with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.
I simply don’t understand how this programme could make it to air. The plot is perfunctory. The “gags” come into view a mile off. As soon as the tazer comes out, we know what’s going to happen.
Just in case I haven’t been clear. This programme is unutterably bad. It make Bonekickers seem like I, Claudius; Triangle seem like Jewel in the Crown; El Dorado seem like Edge of Darkness. Abysmal.
Now I should say that according to Wikipedia, the programme was immensely popular in Ireland where it aired a few weeks ago. And tastes can differ regionally. Maybe it’s something to do with the whole country being in a mess following the financial crisis. Some kind of collective effect on their brains.
I don’t get it. And I’m sure that few will. The humour is of the level of Roy Chubby Brown or Jim Davidson – minus any overt racism. And minus any overt humour.
You think My Family or Two Pints of Lager are unfunny sitcoms? Think again. You’ve not seen this. They seem like Fawlty Towers by comparison.
I could go on. But I’m too busy wondering how this came to air. I know that the BBC is looking to move outside London, and that’s to be welcomed. And there’s nothing stopping BBC Northern Ireland producing sitcoms (although I’m not sure that they can be blamed for this – there wasn’t an obvious sign of it in the credits). But someone somewhere should be getting a cardboard box and handing in their notice tomorrow in shame.
[UPDATE: Note that I've closed this entry for comments after one especially unpleasant comment was published (I've since removed it). There are obviously very different opinions on this programme, and I've made mine clear. However, while reasoned debate is fine, I won't accept comments that are hateful. And because this blog seems to index highly on search engines generating lots of views, I'm getting a broader readership than I ordinarily would. So I've had to take this step.]
Comedy can be a very personal thing.