Friday, March 11

It used to be funny.

Comic Relief, that is. What's happened there? British comedians seem to view it as the one special day every year when they can be totally unfunny. It used to be quite an entertaining night. These days, they're so busy telling us what they're going to spend the money on that they forget to do anything to raise it. Oo, Dawn French shouted out that Cat Deeley doesn't wear pants. Gosh, that's so risque. Careful you don't get taken off the air, Dawn. Celebrity Fame Academy? Don't make me laugh. Oh, you didn't.

Ricky Gervaise seems to be very aware that he is a comedian for a living and that that means the only reason people want to see him is that he makes them laugh. At the British Comedy Awards, he realised that no-one wants to hear yet another comedian thank their agent and their producer, so instead he mercilessly took the piss out of them, reducing the whole room, and me, to hysterics. Tonight, with that same astuteness, he realised that no-one wants to see yet another comedian going to Africa and getting all maudlin about Africans with AIDS, so went to New York instead and took the piss out of Africans. Good for him. He's provided the only humour so far tonight. The effect was rather spoilt by Graham Norton telling the audience that Gervaise was lying: that he hadn't really gone on a luxury holiday to New York at Comic Relief's expense. Is that how far we've descended now? Showing a brilliant bit of comedy and then explaining the joke afterwards? I dread to think how many complaints the BBC would receive from morons if it weren't for Norton's disclaimer.

Somewhere near the beginning of this evening of shite, that bloody pair of impersonators that are doing so well these days despite being crap ("The Beckhams are stupid! The Beckhams are stupid! Ha ha ha!") did a whole sequence taking the piss out of Americans, the point of their sketch being that Americans are no good at comedy. The main butts of the "joke" were David Schwimmer (though it took me a long time to work out that that was who he was supposed to be) and Courtney Cox-Arquette, two comic actors who have consistently, over some two-hundred-and-forty-odd episodes, provided more laughs per ten minutes than Comic Relief have managed in the last week.

Chris Moyles, the man I usually regard as Britain's funniest DJ (which, admittedly, is a bit like being France's best-looking man), has been driving a lorry from John O'Groats to Land's End for the last few days for Comic Relief. Various famous vehicles — the A-Team van, the General Lee — have joined his convoy. OK, great. Not a bad way of raising money for charity. But where's the comedy? For Comic Relief, Moyles has drastically reduced the amount of comedy in his show for a whole week.

Peter Kay is a very gifted and funny comedian. Especially for Comic Relief, he mimed to a Tony Christie song, while marching. Various other people marched with him. Apparently, they'll release it as a single on Monday, so the hilarity will continue for weeks.

Say what you like about McFly's music, but they did write one of the best lyrics of last year:

She's got a boyfriend.
He drives her round the bend.
But he's twenty-three;
He's in the marines;
He'd kill me.


I laughed long and hard the first time I heard that one. They clearly have some talent for comedy. So, for Comic Relief, why were they asked to write something maudlin and drippy and dull and in no way amusing?

The whole point of Comic Relief used to be that it wasn't just another bloody telethon; that there was more to watch than people asking you to give them money; that they provided you with some first-class entertainment in return. No more.

Rename it to "Relief".
 

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