Monday, 13 October 2008

Spoofs.. or is the plural spooves?

The Peter Kay X Factor spoof did incredibly well last night - 6.1m viewers on C4? Superb numbers there. And as a big fan of Mr Kay (more in the consistently funny sitcom Phoenix Nights than his nice-but-trad stand-up act) I was waiting with baited breath for it.

OK, so I haven't seen the last hour yet - and I will watch it, I promise - but the first hour was one of the biggest disappointments of the year for me.

I thought it couldn't fail. One of Britain's top comedians writing and appearing in it, what certainly looked like a vast, huge, enormous budget, an obvious target to take the piss out of, and a stunt schedule just like proper reality shows - well, it's an easy winner.

Except they forgot to put any jokes in. OK, that's not 100% fair - there were a few jokes. The name for one. A vaguely funny thing on paper even if it grated when lovely Cat Deeley said it for the tenth time.

Ah yes, the casting. Again, on paper, proper reality presenter (Cat!) alongside real judges (Pete! Foxy! That woman off of Pop Idol!) - very funny, so accurate, spot on. Errr, no. They can't act. Waterman pretending to flirt with Kay's character was just horrible. Not in the comedy-of-creepiness way that was intended but in the just-bloody-awful no ability to act or carry it off way.

The little boy's gran died when he told her he'd been kicked out, so they put him back in. Hohoho. That one gag stretched over ten long minutes. The songs were another flaw - they were just songs really, not much comedy there. Mimed too - tsk, no reality show would put up with that.

The group 2 Up 2 Down with two ladies in wheelchairs - chortle-tastic! Well, a bit - again I think of Phoenix Nights here - but it simply wasn't that good. When the ladies flew out of their chairs as superheroes on wires I simply sighed.

And then Kay turns up - finally, after 40 minutes without him! - and woe betide my splitting sides but he's (a) a lady; and (b) transgender. Well I never. Now Kay is a great comic actor and he lit the screen up with charisma and timing and even some one-liners (unlike anyone else) but again him being a ladyman is one joke not a third of a show.

The whole thing looked almost perfect - if a bit cheaper than the real thing, which isn't a surprise as X Factor is a stunningly well-made studio show that drips of money.

My main beef (in amongst all the other beefettes above) was this didn't even try to be satirical or cutting. It was simply too close to the real thing to be a spoof. No-one would be shocked if an X Factor contestant turned out to have had a sex change, or a group had people in wheelchairs in it, or a small boy dedicating things to his gran. Kay didn't go far enough - a good spoof, for example, was The Day Today, taking news tv to it's supremely twisted conclusion (even if nowadays the real news is far more extreme than the Currency Arse or the Mile High Traffic Pod).

This was nice and gentle and, to be frank, if you switched on without knowing you'd simply think it was a genuine X Factor rip-off, yawn, and hop somewhere else. Too soft, almost as if it was in awe of the subject matter, instead of knowing and cruel and sticking the boot in.

I'll update this soon if the last hour was a work of genius but it's still an hour of my life I won't get back. At least the next hour I spent in the company of Lord Stephen of Fry, and his American adventure show wasn't exactly stunningly original or clever, but at least he's so lovely and jolly and trulu erudite company. Perfect for a Sunday night. I simply couldn't face more of "Doctor" Fox or Pete Waterman or Nikki Thingi.

The only bit I properly laughed at was one of the msucal montages going from 'Free Nelson Mandela' to 'Um-ber-ella ella ella'. That probably says much about my comedic taste (ie I've got none) but there you go.

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