Sunday, 10 June 2012

My Post-Veep Blues

I’ve spent a week animating something that I might have posted to this blog if it were anywhere near completion. Hence the reason I’m writing something instead. It’s a good excuse to do something different. I keep telling myself that I’ll post more, even if it’s going to be my usual gripes about the state of comedy in the UK or the extent to which I find myself thinking that the internet is utterly abhorrent. I have so many grumbles that I might as well release them like Mr. Burns releases his hounds. I'd even do the Mr. Burns voice if I could. Only, as I've established this week, I have a complete inability to do voices.

I’ve always been wary about throwing things out onto the web. Most of what I do I do because it amuses me but I’m increasingly aware that my sense of humour isn’t shared by other people. The other day, I stumbled across somebody referring to one of my earlier versions of this blog as 'a crap spoof website'. Well, to coin a phrase: sod it. If comedy amounts to whatever emerges from Miranda Hart’s mouth, then we’re more damned than I already think we are. Hieronymus Bosch might have had some impressive visions of what Hell looks like but my vision of hell is Miranda Hart in jogging pants, falling over, and goofing into the camera as all of hell’s minions laugh and start to hand her BAFTAs.

But is this what happens when you get older? I can handle the hair loss and the increased tendency to find beauty in the older woman (hell, it explains my current thing for Julia Louis-Dreyfus). What is worrying me is my inability to figure out what makes people laugh.

It’s a worrying thought. I’ve written comedy for so long yet I can’t even remember the last time I watched good comedy on the BBC. Technically, the forthcoming ‘Veep’ would class as one of theirs. Though it’s made in the States, it comes from the same team as ‘The Thick of It’, which is probably the last good comedy I did watch on the BBC. It’s produced by the peerless Armando Iannucci and, for what it’s worth, I’ve been enjoying it as much (if not a little bit more) as ‘The Thick Of It’, though it’s very different in texture. It’s less grey, grubby, and as biting, but it makes up for these deficiencies with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tony Hale and a good dose of mid-Atlantic profanity. I’m not turning this into a review other than to say if you haven’t seen it, watch it when it starts its run on the BBC. I recommend it more than I recommend life itself.

Anyway, back to this animation I’ve worked on for the last seven days and I’m now considering consigning to the big ‘failure’ bucket. Watching something as good as ‘Veep’ fills me with hope that there’s still room for good comedy, even if it also leaves me feeling awed by the high standards. I can’t even fill two minutes with something funny when the only person I have to rely on is myself. I hit a brick wall when I realised that can’t do impressions. I sat there all week at a microphone, trying to make voices sound reasonably similar to certain real life people only for everything to sound uniquely like me. It’s really thrown a spanner in the works. I suppose it’s good that I learn this now before I waste any more time on something that’s bound to failure.

Which brings me, apropos of nothing, to mentioning that I watched ‘Monster in Paris’ tonight. It’s a likable movie, though it has a minor character deluded into thinking he can sing. He couldn’t, of course, but he kept telling himself that he was merely not suited to the mainstream. It hit home a bit, I think. I saw myself, wondering if my humour is just too left of centre for its own good. I sometimes wonder if my comedic sense has just slackened. I just have these big blind spots, such as Miranda Hart, where I don’t understand comedy. I don’t find Lenny Henry funny yet the guy has made a great career out of it. Walliams and Lucas. I abhor them when the nation laud them. Where Stewart Lee stands, however, I find genius, just not a popular hit. I don’t get it. I don’t get any of it.

Ah, I repeat my new favourite phrase: sod it. I’m not sure what I’m trying to say other than to lead up to a doodle from my notebook. It made me smile, which is a rare event lately…

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