TV Comedy in 2011

In that start-of-the-year spirit, here’s a few things that I’m fairly excited to see this year. I’ll pop one of these up for stand-up and, probably, films but first let’s focus on what to watch on the telly box:

Hitting our screens tonight and something I’ve been very eager to see has been Episodes. Made in conjunction with US TV network Showtime, the plot revolves around the production of a new sitcom, the plot of that sitcom focuses on what happens when America tries to remake a successful UK show only for the remake to be a total disaster. To start with the US version intends to cast Matt Le Blanc in the lead role, cue Matt Le Blanc playing Matt Le Blanc.

Admittedly the idea of a show within a show is not an entirely original concept (Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Larry Sanders Show and Extras) but then it’s not exactly been a bad one either. It’s difficult to judge from a short preview clip but it’s a neat idea, Le Blanc shows an impressive amount of self-awareness and the excellent support cast (Stephen Mangan, Tamsin Greig) is enough to make sure it gets a watch.

One of the hidden highlights could well be Chickens, part of this year’s Comedy Lab and the creation of House of Windsor (a.k.a. Inbetweeners stars Simon Bird and Joe Thomas, plus Jonny Sweet). The story of three World War 1 deserters – one a conscientious objector, one on health grounds and one who’s a ‘philandering scaredicat’ – who are then shunned by their local community. It’s an original premise and given their burgeoning careers it’ll be interesting to see how this develops.

Series 2 of Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle should also return this year. Series 1 was, for its star at least, a surprise success. Lee’s recent Vegetable Stew live show has been a chance for him to run through his potential TV ideas. While this resulted in a slightly fragmented live performance the material was very strong. However one issue Lee’s been quick to point out is that under new BBC guidelines quite how much of this material (in particular a certain routine about Adrian Chiles) will actually make it to air. We’ll soon see.


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