Like many poor worker drones, I have to commute to work. Also like the aforementioned proletarians I plug into an MP3 player to drown out the excuses constantly being announced by London Underground as to why half the transport network is currently broken. Judging by the tinny, unnessarily loud sounds coming from their headphones, everyone seems to be listening to techno or R & B. Not me though. I’m the one who stands in the corner giggling quietly to himself. Usually with a slight gap around me for some reason.
This is because I listen to comedy radio plays when I am graft-bound. It’s a great way to get in a happy state of mind before the unbridled joy of toil. I heartily recommend it. They are usually from the BBC so as a licence payer who pays for these things to get made, I get them for free … Just kidding. I still have to pay for them for some reason. Anyway, here are some of my favourites if you fancy trying my jovial commute method. They are all available for money on the interweb.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy
Obviously. Hitchhikers started life as a radio play and it is superb. As good as the books and better than the TV show or film or game. It’s my favourite radio show of all time and if you haven’t heard it, you are missing out on life. The show originally comprised of two series, broadcast in 1978 and 1980. What you may not know is that in recent times they also adapted the final three books into three more series broadcast from 2004 onwards. They had the same cast and everything. They are also genius. What you may also not know is that the BBC made Radio shows out of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul - Douglas Adams’s other two fiction novels set on Earth. My old hood of Islington, London, in fact. These lack the manic random genius of Hitchhikers but are damn fine humorous plays in their own right. They star Harry Enfield, who is perfect for the role and are well worth the money. The CDs are good too if you are old school:
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Dirk Gently: The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul (BBC Audio)
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (BBC Audio)
LISTEN TO ALL THESE!
Bleak Expectations is also pretty mad, and very funny. The first series is a spoof on a couple of Dickens’ novels. It follows the adventures of an orphan called Pip Bin. He is sent to a harsh boarding school called St Bastards where he has an hilariously bad time. He soon escapes though and has a series of adventures battling his protagonist Mr Benevolent, who is ironically evil (played by Anthony Head from Buffy). At various points he gets trapped in a camembert mine in France, or an island of dinosaurs, or a space ship, or lots of other ludicrous scenarios. He eventually marries a lady called Ripely Fecund but bad things keep happening like her dying (he saves her though), or his best friend turning into a Mr Hyde type madman. Mr Benelovent keeps trying dastardly schemes like raising the dead, or helping Martains invade, or stealing London to sell it to the French. So it’s a bit crazy. But very, very funny.
Bleak Expectations: The Complete Series (BBC Audio)
Old Harry’s Game
This is written by and starring Andy Hamilton, who plays Satan. Not quite as ‘out there’ as the plays mentioned above, but like them, it is bloody hilarious. It is basically a sitcom about the Devil and his demons trying to do their job. Which is to ensure everyone has a really shit time in Hell. It’s very witty and occasionally topical. For example, in a recent series there are two new arrivals who don’t seem that scared. Satan remarks on this to a side-kick and states that normally by this point new arrivals are usually standing in a puddle – “apart from Mother Teresa, who just looked gob-smacked”. It turns out the newbies were bankers who refuse to believe there will be consequences to their actions. There are lots of jokes like this. Lots. And they are all good.
Old Harry’s Game: v.1 (BBC Radio Collection)
I recently stumbled across this series. It is more of a standard sit-com compared to the others. But it’s a superbly funny sit-com. It follows the trials and tribulations of an airline that consists of one charter plane. The main cast is the two pilots, the lady owner, and her stupid son who is a steward. The thing that makes this work is that it is superbly written and perfectly cast. The writer wrote stuff for Peep Show, Mitchell and Webb, Dead Ringers, 10 o’clock live and more. There isn’t much I can explain as to why you should listen to this, I just really think you should. It’s brilliant and has caused me to snigger almost constantly for my 24 minute train trip to work.
I could mention lots more like Hancock’s Half Hour or Mr Bean – the radio show (just kidding), but then I would go on forever.
So there you go. Instead of just trying to block your miserable commute out, try and enjoy it. There is the added bonus that if you laugh to yourself, you will find your fellow commuters anxiously giving you more room. Either that or you smell.
This film has had a lot of bad press. Mostly because the plot is almost exactly the same as the original. Which is true, but what the fuck were people expecting given the title? The point to be considered is whether it is funny or not. Which it is. If this had come out first then critics would be bitching about the Vegas one.
First off, the plot. As stated, think of the first one and put it in Thailand. Bangkok mostly. I lived in Bangkok for a few years and can confirm that it is an awesomely fun city where it is incredibly easy to get into a serious amount of shit. Which is exactly what happens.
This film is a lot darker from the first one. It is hard to say how without giving away a laugh or two but they get mixed up with the Bangkok underworld and get into some fairly extreme situations. People get shot, lose fingers, and the Chinese guy from the first film is naked again. It is possible that this darker tone might put people off a bit but keep in mind that this is an 18 rated comedy, so again, what the fuck did you expect?
I enjoyed this movie as much as the first one. More in fact as I miss Bangkok and Thailand generally, and can’t wait to live back there. They even visit two of my regular hangouts – the bar scene on Soi Cowboy and a really cool restaurant/bar on top of a building. I might also be biased as I hung out with the line producer, the producer, the special effects guy, and more of the crew when I was last in Bangkok. This was because my brother-in-law is an entertainment lawyer and lives in Bangkok. Which is pretty handy. As a result we went out a few times with these seriously loaded movie types and they like to have fun. Plus they bought me shitloads of beer.
So all that really needs to be said is: if you liked the first one, you will like this. I loved it.
Apologies for not having written for so long but I worked like a demon for a week, then it was my wife’s birthday and the accompanying hangover. In addition to this, I have become mildly obsessed with 30 Rock.
The series is written by and starring Tina Fey and is based on her behind-the-scenes experiences of when she worked as head writer for Saturday Night Live on NBC. Fey plays Liz Lemon, the head writer for a live comedy sketch show on NBC. So it’s probably based on a lot of truth and is very, very funny.
I was going to say that where it truly shines is in the characters and the dialogue, but then that pretty much goes for every sitcom. I was trying to think of my favourite character. They are all fairly stereotypical but therein lies the fun. The writers are all geeky and make lots of SciFi references and Star Wars jokes (which actually makes them cool), the main actress is appearance obsessed, the main star is mental and on medication, and the big boss is a Republican who thinks of nothing but money and power.
The big boss is played by Alec Baldwin and is just superb. His character also has some of the best lines. Liz Lemon (played by Tina Fey) is the main anchor of the show and is awesome. She is neurotic but intelligent, funny and likeable. There are a lot of other memorable characters such as the religious but keen page, ex-boyfriends, and so on.
I had heard good things about 30 Rock and am glad I finally got round to watching it. It just pisses me off that Tina Fey is the same age as me and actually pulled her finger out and wrote some brilliant stuff as opposed to get drunk, going travelling and meaning to write.
I feel a sitcom penned by me coming on. 10 Camden, or something. The story of a struggling writer with an annoyingly successful career in TV that takes up all his time. It will be brilliant.