So Wrong, It's Right, Radio 4
Jarvis Cocker's Sunday Service, BBC 6 Music
Rent-a-rants are received loud and clear
Sunday 16 May 2010
There's so much about the world that's rubbish, so many ways in which our species has made a complete mess of things, that misanthropy feels like a rational response to modern life.
A clear leader in the field is Charlie Brooker, who has distinguished himself in print and on television with his scabrous crescendos of disgust and contempt. It clears the passages to witness a heartfelt tirade against those deserving of our condemnation, and Brooker reliably hands out metaphorical kickings where they are most needed.
He's not done much radio, but I'd say getting him in the studio and letting him rant till he can rant no longer would make a simple but unbeatable format. Instead, he's got his own game show, So Wrong It's Right, "about Britain's favourite subject: failure". Given the vein-bulging abuse of which he is a virtuoso, I was expecting something dark and vicious. It was funny but the passages remained uncleared.
In a round where the panel had to come up with the best-worst reality TV show, the comedian Rufus Hound suggested Blaze of Granny, in which senior citizens compete to suggest the most gruesome manner of their own death: "Tonight, Vernon, I'm going to be kicked to death by a donkey!" Not quite nasty enough for Brooker, who said: "I'd like to see somebody inhale a drainpipe full of bees."
I'd read a couple of notices that took a dim view of the nastiness; frankly, I could have handled more. But if Brooker's misanthropy dial was only turned up half way, David Mitchell's profound disgruntlement with the modern world more than compensated. In the Putrid Modern Hell round, he railed against new technology and the different platforms and formats it spawns. "I want to make comedy shows in a system that already exists, please," he pleaded. "I want everyone to have to watch BBC1, BBC2 or ITV, and for me to be on one of those."
I'd go for that – although then we probably wouldn't have digital radio, or BBC6 Music, upon which another relative radio newcomer is making his mark, winning the Sony Rising Star award last week. Quite right, too: Jarvis Cocker's Sunday Service is two hours of radio paradise. The music is fantastic – a gorgeous duet by Morrissey and Siouxsie Sioux; Roland Kovac and his Panorama Sound Orchestra; Dory Previn's Valley of the Dolls theme tune; and a track from a Motown album made by Albert Finney, no less. And the bits in between are filled by the former Pulp singer's delightful musings – Picasso's visit to Sheffield; Mr Noisy's extravagant brogues in the Mr Men stories; the cricket team convened by JM Barrie which included Conan Doyle, Milne, Jerome and Wodehouse.
There's more than a touch of John Peel about Cocker: laconic delivery, an endearing cack-handedness in the studio – and the giddy expansion of one's musical horizons. When 6 Music gets the chop, they'll definitely need to find a home for him somewhere.
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