I recently rented the first series of A Bit Of Fry And Laurie and, to my surprsie, this twenty-year-old series is still incredibly fresh and funny today. Amdist a host of other sketch shows in the 80s, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie created amzingly absurd yet intelligent comedy.
And now I'm going to have a bit of a rant.
The problem with British comedy today is that, post-Fast Show, sketch shows have been reduced to simple, crude repetition. Don't get me wrong - I love The Fast Show, and have a lot of time for Little Britain, but I don't think comedians as talented as David Walliams and Matt Lucas are doing themselves any favours by restricting themselves to only a handful of characters.
Take Catherine Tate for example. She's managed to wring three series of sketches out of repeating the same seven or eight jokes over and over again. Is this down to lazy writing, or is there pressure from the Beeb to create a lucrative catchphrase-based commodity? Of course, basing comedy around a handful of characters is the stuff of sitcoms - but Tate et al aren't interested in characters, rather caricatures. Scratch the surface (or rather the increasingly relied-upon latex) and there's nothing there.
Hopefully there'll be something as great as A Bit Of Fry And Laurie again. Mitchell and Webb have the potential, but have already fallen into the BBC catchphrase trap.
Okay, rant over. And now here's the reason I started writing this post in the first place: a classic bit of Hugh Laurie, from way back in 1987 …
And performing the same thing Inside The Actors' Studio last year …