Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Secret Policeman's Ball

Didn't really work on tv, did it? But then that's hardly surprising, given the fact that it was re-ordered, a number of acts were completely missed out, and those that remained were massively chopped down. I'm sure it was a blast if you were there... The Torn mime thing was good, and the Boosh at least looked excited to be there (unlike most of them, who looked rather bored), but overall... very meh.

Here's something rather cool though - Noel Fielding and Russell Brand trying to out-do each other both in size of hair and wit. Basically, Noel comes up with all the weird ideas and Russell expands.


Billy said...

The Boosh's bit was the best. I would have said that anyway though.

Paul Fuzz said...

Saddest of all is The Decline Of Izzard. The guy invented - almost single handedly - an entire school of comedy. My girlfriend described him today as "a genius", which I think still stands. But he was very, very poor indeed at the SPB. "Flies are stupid, aren't they? They keep hitting the window trying to get out!" This is material more fitting of a particularly bad late-90s Izzard copyist, not of the man himself. I guess the guy who invents a genre suffers the most when that genre becomes un-hip - the cliches of The 'Izzard-esque' are stale, but nobody can begrudge the man whose methods they're singularly styled on still using them - hence he is is trapped, the only comedian who can 100% justify to us (and more importantly himself) in 2006 still being Izzard-esque, and thus the only comedian left with absolutely no motivation to move beyond it. This is to presume, of course, that he CAN move beyond it. Any comedian who adopted the Izzard Method is an a position to discard it - the question is how much Izzard 'adopted' the Izzard method, and how much of his act is simply HIM, and thus un-discardable. Could Izzard step on stage and not be Izzard-esque? It is, I suspect, too much to expect a man to re-invent the wheel twice in his life time.

Matt_c said...

"Brand expands..."

That's generous, Anna.

Noel: Big Brother escapes of his own accord.
Brand: He escapes of his own volition!

I would say that's just rephrasing.

My best mate wrote two decent essays in the course of his entire Drama degree and one of them was about standup comedians. He was discussing the rules which the comedians set for their performance; he loved Izzard and discussed the air of informality and randomness that Izzard communicates. And that after several massively successful tours we realise this improvisation is nothing more than a finely tuned performance.

That Izzard's flaw - he doesn't know how to reinvent himself as someone who tells jokes; he wanted to be someone who people believed just stood up on stage and made up a two hour show off the top of his head.

We knew it wasn't true but wanted to believe...

JoeinVegas said...

Yes, the hair - the hair

AnnaWaits said...

I was trying to give Brand the benefit of the doubt... but watching it back, you're totally right, 'rephrasing' is much more accurate!

Matt_c said...

Having said that so much of comedy is in the delivery and I do still find Brand's delivery amusing in small chunks... :) I start getting worried that his hair will escape from the tv and engulf me like the scary monster in The Grudge... (the remake with SMG, rather than original - sorry!)

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Yes! Matt-c has finally nailed what I really HATE about RB! It's the fear of the hair. And I totally got the Smudge/Grudge reference...

Matt_c said...

Good old Smudge! :)

She's a bit rubbish in it though. I think after Buffy Season 7 she bores me now. If I had to listen to her whining on about how hard it was for her to not be dead anymore, and being all self-righteous and annoying...Hnnng.

I love the one where Andrew makes a video diary and takes the piss out of her boring speechifying.

Dean said...

"he wanted to be someone who people believed just stood up on stage and made up a two hour show off the top of his head."

Stand-up does exist in this bizarre self-delusional position these days, where stand-ups perform carefully scripted material while trying to make it look as natural as possible so it seems like they're making it up on the spot. Even though we know they're not and they know that we know they're not. It works for a few: Ross Noble, for example, uses far more scripted material than people think he does, but for most it's just weird. Some of the most interesting stand-up being done lately is stuff where all the pretence of sponteneity is abandoned and the whole set is scripted down to the last word: Stewart Lee's stuff would be the best example of this.

I always start off writing stuff without scripting the language to closely, like doing a presentation based off notes rather than a script. But when you run through it you quickly find out it's really hard to do that. Often I've had a piece that I thought was finished until I've gone through it out loud and discover I haven't actually figured out a way to say a particular thing while making it a) funny, b) at a pace that fits in with the rest of the set and c) doesn't screw up the timing of the punch-line. It's far, far harder to get this right than people think. Plus if you script your thing very tightly you can throw bunches of three pretentiously long adjectives which generally get a cheap laugh in and of themselves, through the fact that you're using such highfalutin language to explain trivial concepts.
I have occasionally seen new comics think they don't need to write material as they can be naturally funny: 99.9% of them find out quickly that they are wrong.
That Fielding/Brand thing is a pretty interesting example actually. It's amusing but it's not really laugh-out-loud funny, and it's not a patch on thier individual scripted stand-up stuff (infact it veers dangerously close to 6th form revue style surreal-but-not-funny humour).

As for the Ball itself, not seen it all yet but from what I gather it's just mostly comics getting on stage and doing bits of thier material. Which is fine you know. But back in the day comics would toil for weeks or months before the Ball trying to write something worthy of it. If you have the boxset of the old ones (and if not it's just £16 at HMV for all 7 Balls) most of it is new stuff, or at least new takes on old stuff. It's a real shame the tradition wasn't continued and instead we get just-another-benefit-gig.