John Bishop’s Britain? If it’s his Britain, I’m emigrating. What ever happened to comedy? and how/why did the 1980s make a return?
What is it about this programme – on the BBC no less – that offends the senses so utterly? I’d say, besides it being a vehicle for the terminally unfunny Scouse twat that is John Bishop, the concept behind it all deeply unsettles me.
The very idea that we’re all one big happy nation, tied strongly by the bonds of shameless, lowest-common denominator comedy sickens me. Unlike the show’s target audience – let’s face it, this trash is never going to appeal to everyone – I would like a bit more from my comedy than a bold return to the 1980s. Having been subjected to Michael Barrymore’s lightweight Saturday evening ‘entertainment’ on far too many occasions in my short life, it didn’t take me long to notice the similarities between that and John Bishop’s Britain.
Firstly, the main body of the show consists of Bishop reeling off seemingly infinite and ever cheaper gags to his captive audience – which is made up of people who would ordinarily be watching X Factor or Lobotomy come dancing – in front of a garish logo. The gags are interspersed with short clips of minor ‘celebrities’ – Bill Oddie, James Cordon and their ilk – and provincial yahoos telling a ‘funny’/'heartwarming’/'raunchy’/'quirky’ /outright sickening vignette about their experiences. As interesting as it is to know what a scouse hairdresser or cringeworthy male-model from Essex or two brain dead girls from London think, I like to believe that it’s not going to enrich my life.
Secondly, the material provided to Bishop would even be scoffed at by those other bastions of ‘thinking-man’s comedy’ Michael McIntrye and Lee Evans – surely the Archduke of shitty gags. At one point, an admittedly strange woman who appears to suffer from some kind of visible nervous tic recounts a typically unfunny tale. This appears to get Bishop’s attention, as he proceeds to make a joke about her blinking a lot, which oddly reminds this writer of a bully in a school playground.
Not a million miles away is Stewart Lee’s comedy vehicle, a show built around the idea of high-comedy as the principle focus of a show. Comedy Vehicle stands in stark contrast to the ‘cutting-edge’ of comedy currently being commissioned at the Beeb. Surely in these times of economic instability, the first thing to go should be mindless excesses such as John Bishop’s Britain.
Maybe I’m missing something, is this actually a satire on cheap comedy? Is there a vital message that I’m seemingly unaware of? or is that Britain is a land of people who only enjoy what they know? Troublesome questions indeed, but what raises the most concern about this new wave of comedy for the Tory age is that it shows no sign of stopping. Where are our anti-heroes when we need them?