Friday, October 19, 2007

The most important television program… ever!

Before 9/11, the tagline of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart was, sarcastically, “the most important television program…ever!” After the planes hit the towers, and we all went through a strange period of not knowing whether it was okay to be funny or not, they got rid of that tagline. The ironic thing is that after 9/11, when the rest of the news media turned into the “Believe Everything The White House Says About Everything Club,” The Daily Show with Jon Stewart may actually have become, well, the most important television program…ever.

Point is, according to Machinist, The Daily Show has launched it’s official web archive, where you can watch clips going back to 1999, and you can see the transition first hand from “news show with jokes” to “pointed political satire.”

Here’s one of my favorite moments from the show as of late, where he takes down Chris Matthews and his silly little self-help book. And just for kicks, here’s a clip from Indecision 2000, seven years and a dollop of hair product ago. Note the subtle difference in delivery and execution - in the first clip, the gloves are definitely off, and you can tell that Jon’s angry because this matters. In the second clip, the joke is that the political process doesn’t matter, and the delivery is a lot more laid back.

Funny not

You know my mum’s English is hardly there. She always say she wants to go to ‘Bryan‘. And then sometimes ’sock and sand.’ I don’t know why housewives my mum’s age can’t pronounce the supermarkets Giant or shop n save. Anyhow, I finally went to Giant the other day. It’s way too big. I don’t even know where I was. And it’s cold there too! My dad said we should bring sweaters if we’re shopping for like the month’s toiletries or smth. They sell fbt sportswear there pls.

Speaking of wear, I need to get new shoes. The Asics I always wanted shall soon replace my adidas which is in a terrible shape. There are lesser holes than before. Don’t get me wrong, the small holes from the net sort of design (for comfort and aeriation) has merged to become much larger holes. xo I think I’ll still get lime green cos orange is everywhere already. All those ass holes spoiled orange. ): I shall earn big bucks once the As are over. You know what’s the best way? Tuition. Tell all those kiasu parents you can turn their hopeless year-end results into miracle A/Bs. So you can create a sort-of crash course sort of thing and squeeze the fat wallets out of these rich families widening our income gap. We’re doing the country good! Oh and I shall do relief teaching and earn some 65 per day. Yes I need to squeeze every opportunity to get quick bucks since I am enlisting on the 25th of Jan. HELP ME. But then I am already luckier than others in class (other than yat the bloody single person that passed napha you phony!!) cos some are enlisting as early as 3 days after prom! Poor Fred. It’s okay I’ll treat you with a small portion of what I earned. Nah I won’t. :p

Ok so how’s studying coming? Very boring. The good news is, the panic button I always mention is finally found and pressed. The bad news, I don’t seem to be able to find the ’sit down and study’ button. ): Even if I do, I spend a lot of time planning what to do, earn, buy, play, earn, earn and earn after the As. HAHAHA. Sighs, this is so boring, To only be able to think of all those stuff I wanna do but am unable to for the moment. It feels like 22nd Nov is is far away. )))): Anyway tmr is my day off! I’m going to meet my old pals. (: (they are humans btw, I don’t have inanimate objects as friends. Unlike shuyun and amantha. hah.)


Are Thursdays funny?

By coincidence more than topical programme making Jennifer Saunders new television vehicle arrived just as Jeremy Kyle, king of daytime talk shows and human bear baiter, was getting a sound drubbing from all angles. Good news for Vivien Vyle and I’m sure that loathsome creation would be delighted to profit from the misfortune of her rival.

In reality meanwhile it makes the comedy (I am assured that it is comedy although I’ve yet to laugh) seem a vicious personal attack on Kyle, rather than on the grotesque carnival that daytime talk shows have always been.

The recreations of the talk show environment are horribly accurate, from the Jeremy Kyle style graphics and set to the foul mouthed unfortunates who appear on the show, but that still doesn’t make them funny.

Saunders and the retinue of actors that have followed her across the hall from the Absolutely Fabulous offices inhabit revolting characters that show us just how shallow and unpleasant the media world can be (you know; a bit like Larry Sanders and Nathan Barley did – so much better and so very long ago). This weeks episode included a particularly heavy handed sequence where the ‘sympathetic’ character of Psychiatrist Dr Jonathan Fowler (Jason Watkins) told a sad story (which could easily be from a real case workers experiences) before everyone demonstrated how shallow and self-obsessed they were again.

This is part of the problem. The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle doesn’t seem to know if it’s a comedy or a drama. The source of confusion being that that people who think that baring their darkest most awful problems and traumas on daytime television will solve their problems aren’t funny, they’re tragic and desperate. No amount of Patsy and Edina style ‘Darling’s or camp husbands on rollerblades will mask that.

The latest episode also surprised me by having characters re-enact a scene from Brief Encounter as part of a bizarre reconciliation ritual. An interesting idea but I couldn’t concentrate on it as I was wondering if it had struck the writers whilst they were watching Alan Bennett’s History Boys.

Presumably for her medical expertise Jennifer Saunders has written this series with the help of Dr Tanya Byron, who certainly knows something about television exploiting peoples problems having worked on such reality shows as House of Tiny Tearaways and Little Angels.

The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle wants to be a clever and biting satire on how ruthless and exploitative television is but just ends up being exploitative itself, as well as lazy and worse of all not funny. What awful people they are in TV land, I wonder how many trophies Ms Vyle will scoop next awards season.

After knocking around in many of the best sitcoms of the last decade, and providing the voice of Darth Maul for Star Wars: The Phantom … (Oh you know – the one with the kid) Peter Serafinowicz has emerged in his own sketch show.

Sketch shows are becoming a bit of a rarity on our screens and good ones even more so. The Peter Serafinowicz Show is jam packed full of fresh ideas and energy. It's the perfect antidote to the feeling of misery and wasted time that the viewer is left with after watching Vivienne Vyle.

It’s true that not every sketch or running gag is a success but with the likes of Michael 6 (a funny sketch about daytime talk shows), the endearing Brian Butterworth adverts, and ‘O news’ the laughs far outweigh any misfires.

The greatest revelation in this show is it's stars excellent talent for mimicry. Peter Serefinowicz does impressions of people you don’t even expect to see being impersonated – and then finds a context to use these unexpected impressions, the best example being his lampoons of acting masterclass series (a poe-faced television series of ‘classes’ provided by successful actors in the 1980's – most notably Michael Caine and Simon Callow).

One question though – does Alan Alda even get invited to film premieres any more? Actually – don’t worry, I don’t even care. The enthusiasm and energy of The Peter Serafinowicz Show belies any attempt to criticise.