Thursday, December 13, 2007

Attention span of a gnat

Its not new, but I've been thinking about this for a while.

Whilst channel flicking I happened to catch Russell Brand's Ponderland. Everyone's always raving about Russell, so I thought I'd give it a look.

I don't know about his other work, but Ponderland tonight consisted solely of clips from old television programmes interspersed by comedy. Well, I say "comedy", but it just seemed to be variations of "Look! Didn't people say/do funny things in the old days? Isn't that hilarious in and of itself".

He's not the only culprit. I've seen a number of clip shows where old fashioned clothes/mannerisms/attitudes are pointed at and laughed at. No actual jokes. Just laughing at how things were different.

I suppose if you have no concept of history, just seeing something different to what is popular today, is a source of never-ending hilarity. But anybody with a shred of historical knowledge, or even just somebody who was there, will just think, "Yes. That's what it was like. Do you actually have a point to make?"

I don't mind playful pastiche. I don't mind jokes at the expense of the past. Even cruel satire at the expense of old-fashioned attitudes can be funny if handled right. But just pointing at something old, and laughing because it is different, just shows how ignorant you are.

On the other hand, all these "isn't the past funny" shows will make excellent material for future shows...

"Look at this clip of a 21st century presenter mocking the past. Aren't his clothes funny? And listen to his dated catchphrases. Hilarious!"


Lara Tyg said...

tsk, cynic.
Mr Enfields Chumley-Warner worked, but thats not quite the same thing.

My advice is throw your telly away.
Come join us normal people, & life shall be less of a worry.

Lynn Jones said...

And listen to his dated catchphrases

That had me chortling for quite a while.

At worst the 'mock the past' shows are rather tedious and seem only there to fill the gap between a soap and some late night comedy programme.

That said - and humour is a personal thing - when done right (ie. you find it funny), a show that mocks are target can work. TV Burp springs to mind as does Screenwipe and Mock The Week.

Talking of catchphrases - and no I won't rattle any off - I wonder if future generations will look back at the IF THEN DO of formula based catchphrase *ahem* 'comedy' and wonder what all the fuss was about?

Mariana said...

Totally touché. One of the programs that pass for comedy these days on Portuguese television often makes fun of tv stars and commentators of the past, picking on every little thing from their clothes to their sentences, and it's so excruciatingly unkind and unfunny. I mean some of those people aren't even around anymore, but their relatives must be. I wonder what it must feel like to turn on the telly and see a show where your grandfather is mocked, when really he did nothing but entertain and be very popular in his day.

Pandora Caitiff said...

@Lara: My neighbour got rid of his telly and aerial, and would regularly be pestered by the TV Licensing people who could not understand why someone might not want a television.

@Lynn: I actually like TV Burp, Screenwipe and Mock the Week. I think mocking contemporaries, who should know better, is fair game.

@Marianne: Totally. Its just a lack of respect for what came before.

Anonymous said...

Aw I was hoping for a xmassy post to wish you a merry christmas on. :)

I avoided that show out of a general aversion to Mr. Brand, but it looked like it had some interesting clips, including ones of shows I'd like to see again, like educational kids shows from my youth. Glad I missed it now, if he just took the piss!