Bigipedia, Radio 4
Who imagined the internet could be so wikidly comical?
Sunday 26 July 2009
About 10 years ago, the funniest thing on radio was
The Sunday Format, which took an imaginary Sunday supplement from hell and turned it into aural heaven, an all-out assault of rapid-fire gags and laser-guided parodies. So
Bigipedia, billed as "The Sunday Format for the internet generation", has set itself the highest of standards.
Based, as its name suggests, on a certain knowledge-sharing website, and with a remorseless accuracy that ranges in nature from the stiletto between the shoulder blades to the baseball bat over the head, it depicts the torrent of digital drivel that pours from the web: pop-ups and forums, downloads and upgrades, obfuscation and disambiguation. ("Disambiguation: For Crystals, the London nightclub known as VD Heaven, click here. For Crystals, the hedgehog from the Uruguayan fire safety films, click here".)
Sunday Format is not its only inspiration. If you're going to steal, the cliché goes, steal from the best, and Bigipedia's influences are solid comedy gold: there's a bit of Spinal Tap, for example, in the "featured article" on the drummer from prog-rock band Fragrant Slab whose diseased vocal cords were replaced with his wrist tendons.
More fundamentally, there's a big dollop of the Armando Iannucci language games that made On the Hour and TV's Brass Eye such classics – as in the piece on "Minimanimals", collectable action figures which include Arachnimax, with his weblegs and venom blaster, and Jurafilax, with neck stretch and snatch claw.
There are facilities such as Bigitrans – "My am on flames, please be distinguish me" – help for novices on Bigibeginners, and games for the younger ones on Bigikids ("no longer called Kidipedia due to a misunderstanding") which also includes a children's recipe for fried fish – "take a very sharp knife ...".
If you fancy having your mind well and truly messed with, by the way, go to the website bigipedia.co.uk, whose maniacal detail suggests it's been put together by an outsider-artist madman, some lost soul who wiped out his family and now spends his days on a locked ward playing on the hospital computer. Which is appropriate: the whole project – website and programme – is clearly the product of some very deranged minds.
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