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.