Alice Jones: Bland comedy on the Beeb? Don't make me laugh

IMHO...

Share
Related Topics

Sauciness. That's a word you don't hear enough any more.

Nor do you see enough of it, at least according to the comedy producer John Lloyd. This week the man behind Blackadder, Spitting Image and QI attacked the BBC for reducing its comedy fare to a "bland vichyssoise", its cheek checked and claws blunted by focus groups and political correctness in the wake of Sachsgate. "Sauciness is no longer allowed before 9pm anywhere on the BBC", writes Lloyd in the Radio Times. (Has he never heard the lunchtime repeats of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue?) "Heaven knows what they would have done to The Two Ronnies." While Lloyd's idea of what's funny – all ooer-missus and fork handles – seems somewhat stuck in the Seventies, if even the relentlessly middle-of-the-road Miranda has occasioned top-level talks over a gag involving a phallic lollipop, perhaps he has point. Has the BBC lost its GSOH?

Granted, Lloyd has an axe to grind, now that QI has been relegated from BBC1 to BBC2. And I don't really accept his description of that show as "uncompromising, eclectic, slightly saucy"; it's always seemed unbearably smug to me. But his comments make me wonder if there isn't too much attention paid to notions of offence when it comes to comedy. Just because something is inoffensive, doesn't make it unfunny (see Gavin & Stacey). And vice versa, edgy does not automatically equal funny (see Frankie Boyle). That mindset only gives rise to a particularly trying type of comedian out to shock for shock's sake. Perhaps comedy supremos should spend less time pontificating on what audiences find offensive, and more time simply writing jokes. We're all grown up enough to make up our own minds over whether we're appalled, amused, or, more likely on the BBC, just lightly titillated.

***

It's been a funny week to be a 29-year-old woman. Beyoncé's announcement of her pregnancy – a newsflash which spawned 8,868 tweets per second – has thrown the spotlight on this most awkward of ages. "I always said I'd have a baby at 30," she said in June. "I'm 29 now." And, lo, because Beyoncé is generally a woman who gets what she wants, it came to pass. So when the superstar enters her fourth decade tomorrow, she does so with the warm glow of knowledge that life is turning out exactly as planned. For the rest of us, for whom the stars are not quite so neatly aligned, various publications have offered up helpful lists of 30 things to do before you're 30. These imperatives range from the major – buy a property, have a baby, write a book, make a million, to the trivial – stop listening to Radio 1, buy a designer handbag, give up texting (really? But... why?).

For me, embarking upon the last month of my twenties and largely concerned with my next deadline and where to hold my birthday party, they make alarming reading. Still, I've got 38 days left to make my first million and write a book. Or I might just lose the checklists and get on with, you know, living my life.

***

Even in the debris-strewn aftermath of Hurricane Irene, the New York authorities have been busily poring over the small print this week. The reason? A federal law ordering that all of the city's 250,900 street signs be changed from upper case to upper-and-lower case, or from the shouty bombast of WALL ST to boring old, grammatically correct Wall St, by 2018. According to transport administrators, things in capitals are harder to read and therefore cause more accidents.

In fact, having realised that adding millions of dollars of sign-writing to billions of dollars of hurricane damage might be a bit much, they've softened the ruling a little so that from now on, any worn-out signs must be replaced with the new, typographically acceptable, versions.

Let's hope that some out-of-work actors take it upon themselves to begin a round-the-clock tending vigil of the BROADWAY sign immediately. Starring on Broadway simply doesn't have the same ring.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Software Engineer - C++

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Software En...

Software Team Leader - C++

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Software Tea...

Sales Executive - Central London /Home working - £20K-£40K

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Sales Executive - Ce...

Graduate Java / C++ Developer

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Graduate Java / C++ ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The daily catch-up: what if Hillary sticks, drowning sorrows and open sesame

John Rentoul
 

i Deputy Editor's Letter:

Independent Voices, Indy Voices Rhodri Jones
Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor