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2012 in Review

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2012, what a year for stuff happening. The Jubilee – went down well. The Olympics – medals and lycra, lovely stuff. If you like ‘Youtube sensations’ there were plenty of them, I can think of at least…three. But let’s get to it, the thing everyone (?) was talking about, what happened to The Broken Bones in 2012? You may have noticed this blog has been lying dormant for some time. Why? Well, it’s a problem that breaks down into several small, crumbly, easily-choked-on pieces.

Employment is kind of a biggy. My current working situation doesn’t allow as much time for seeing and reviewing comedy and this in turn bleeds into the tiny matter of ‘inspiration’. Oh behold the tortured artiste, but sadly it is difficult to keep motivated, wanting to write and/or pitch ideas, when the debates around comedy that appear in the media are so routinely repeated and fixated on issues that only serve to bring out trolls. Why aren’t there more women in comedy? Are women even funny? Is comedy too cruel? Regardless of the discussion someone will quote Stewart Lee, someone will use the expression ‘…as funny as cancer!’ and everyone will go home looking totally stupid. It’s not that the debates lack validity (though doubting ‘the funniness’ of women in 2012 is a pretty depressing state of affairs) but they’re trotted out by certain papers with such regularity (and yet with such little thought behind them) that the focus falls away from the issues.

But let’s pull back from full-on Peter Finch (or should that be Glenn Cullen?) meltdown because recently two things happened that made me reassess. One is that I sat down and re-listened to one of my all time favourite comedy albums. The other was going out to see a night of live comedy, not to review but to simply enjoy with friends.

The album was Patton Oswalt’s Werewolves and Lollipops, to this day one of the most utterly faultless pieces of recorded comedy of the last 10 years (but more on that later). The night was put on by Knock2Bag, where I spent an evening watching fast-rising stars like Pat Cahill, stupendous character comedy from ‘Jenny Fawcett’ and Jamie Demetriou and a riotous set from, the now award-winning, Cardinal Burns.

Over the space of one weekend I was reminded of what I’d missed and what I enjoyed about comedy, the things that made me thankful rather than frustrated (so do accept my apologies for paragraph’s 1 and 2). I love comedy too much to simply forget all about it and chalk this blog up as something I ‘just stopped doing’. There is simply too much to ignore.

Stand-up is in rude-health and none are ruder than Nick Helm, who is cannonball-ing into household name territory at a frightening rate. With any luck David Earl will soon be following suit and another long-time blog favourite, Doctor Brown, won Best Comedy Show at Edinburgh in 2012. On top of that there are the likes of Matt Rees, David Trent and Mae Martin, imaginative, exciting and all making it look effortless, they’re the next batch of future stars deserving of your love, adulation and money (or a Twitter follow, whatever’s easiest).

One of the must-see performances of the year came from Tig Notaro. Her brutally honest set, performed shortly after a stage-two cancer diagnosis, became one of comedy’s most-talked about and inspiring moments of 2012. The recording was initially released through the website of her friend Louis CK and can now be downloaded at a very reasonable price via iTunes, but as a taster, here’s a previous Notaro set:

On television we got strong returns from Fresh Meat, 2012 and a seriously sharp final series of The Thick of It. Sky continued its quest to make us forget the fact we were supposed to detest their proprietors with, among others, new Alan Partridge and the show everyone (?) is talking about, Girls. Speaking of must-see imports, BBC 4 gave us Lilyhammer and in the New Year will begin screening the much-loved Parks and Recreation (even if it does have that status because most people have already streamed/downloaded it). Speaking of which, there’s a pretty similar story with the FX who have decided now’s the time to air Louie in the UK, nearly 3 years after it begun in the States. Keep up television! But that’s a minor quibble, look, even BBC3 pulled out some decent fair with Cuckoo, another series of Him and Her and the surprisingly enjoyable hidden-camera show Impractical Jokers.

Meanwhile the year on the big screen ended with a real treat for UK comedy fans as Sightseers rambled into cinemas and became a very unlikely yet very enjoyable hit. Written by and starring small screen comedy mainstays Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, directed by the excellent Ben Wheatley plus some involvement from Edgar Wright, this brutal low-budget wonder made a hefty dent (or three) in the mainstream’s cranium. It also featured turns from various names and faces from almost every UK comedy of the last 10 years including Richard Glover from sketch godfathers Pros From Dover and even man-of-a-thousand-comedies, cult legend Tony Way. It was sordid, surreal and sick but made me laugh more than almost anything else I saw in the cinema this year.

So that was 2012. What’s to come in 2013? Absolutely loads but as far as the blog is concerned I will be rethinking the content and the regularity with which I post. Posting once every six months is pretty shoddy but posting several things a week just isn’t possible. Instead I want to use the blog to focus more on features and more retrospective pieces, starting with my old fave Werewolves and Lollipops, which I hope you’ll enjoy.

2013 – let’s do this.

Thanks for reading.

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Screen Burns

It feels like an age in the making but March finally sees the arrival of the new E4 sketch show from Cardinal Burns. The duo of Seb Cardinal and Dustin Demri-Burns have been firm favourites on the live circuit for a few years now and the talk of this show has been ongoing for some time.

According to the blurb: Running characters include Office Flirt, New Guy; Phil and Terry the Cockney Midgets, and sketches examine office etiquette, take a behind-the-scenes look at street artist Banksy; and follow Young Dreams, a parody of The Hills featuring three young girls on a fashion internship.

While E4’s comedy output can be a little inconsistent it’s probably a good starting point for the pair who always seem to have weird and wonderful ideas pouring out of them. So far a couple of preview clips have been released, one featuring a great deal of vomiting (hmm), while the other focuses on the aforementioned, ‘Office Flirt’.

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