Matt Butler: David Haye hits out at easy targets but punchlines prove a blow to comedy

View From The Sofa: 24 Hours To Go Broke, Dave

Good lord there was a lot to get angry about last week. The stain of match-fixing in cricket. Sexism in football’s corridors of power being shoved under the carpet, if not tacitly approved. The utter bone-headedness of Ukip masquerading as a proper political party.

Thank goodness there was some sport-related mind candy to divert our attentions from the twisted, ugly world we live in: David Haye’s attempt to spend about £8,100 in 24 Hours To Go Broke.

Haye was thrown together with Seann Walsh, the shaggy-haired comedian, in a field near Cork with a suitcase containing €10,000. They had to spend it all within a day and were prohibited from owning anything at the end of the period.

What followed was a strange mix of odd-couple bumblings, local history and travelogue. In fact, the only thing that held the show together was casual xenophobia and political incorrectness.

For a start, if they failed their challenge, they had to undergo a forfeit of dancing to Riverdance while dressed as a nun.

And if you find that offensive, get a load of Haye’s first idea to get rid of the cash. He wanted to assemble “a small person on a tray, surrounded by nachos, with a plate of salsa on top... That seems like the right thing to do,” mused the boxer over a cup of tea in a greasy-spoon café.

Walsh giggled, questioned where they would find a willing small person, then looked into the boxer’s eyes and said with a voice laden with lust: “I am so glad I am here with you.”

Then we had Haye laughing at a bloke called Mick for, well, having a name like an Irishman.

All of this would have been OK except that it wasn’t particularly funny. Haye has an excuse – he is paid to punch people, not make them laugh. But Walsh’s running gag seemed to be either pretending to pretend he was irked because nobody recognised him or doing the hackneyed “I’m a bit crap, me” schtick that is a hallmark of many a sleb-out-of-his-comfort-zone reality show.

Haye also had an element of nastiness, beyond his comments about dwarfs or Irishmen. During a party the pair laid on for a group of hotel guests, he had the idea of giving people money in exchange for the chance to have him punch them in their alcohol-addled stomachs. This is a former unified world cruiserweight champion, with 24 knockouts in his professional career: he’s bound to pack a punch.

The partygoers agreed, to Haye’s glee. The only karmic part was they kept Haye and Walsh up: when they cut to the next morning the pair looked wiped out.

And their exhaustion was not conducive to efficient spending. Even so, they made it in the end, via a hurling lesson, a road bowling challenge and a bet over oyster shucking. There was even time left for a little more xenophobia, again with a glaring lack of jokes. It left us feeling angrier than ever. And that wasn’t the point of the exercise at all.