Monday, 6 July 2009

The Michael McIntyre Appeal 2009


"Hey! Y'know when you're not wearing a watch, and someone asks you the time, and you look where your watch would be!!!? Eh!!!? Don't we all just do that!!!?" NO, WE HAVE NEVER AND WILL NEVER DO THAT. WE KNOW WHEN WE ARE AND WHEN WE ARE NOT WEARING A WATCH, AND NO-ONE EVER ASKS US WHAT THE TIME IS, THEY CAN JUST LOOK AT THEIR MOBILE PHONE IF THEY DON'T HAVE A WATCH THEMSELVES. Interestingly however, when we aren’t wearing a watch, we can see where we've had the words "Michael McIntyre is an exceptionally unfunny human being" tattooed on our wrists .

Michael McIntyre is currently the 'darling' of BBC One's comedy output. While he may be an unexceptional stand-up comedian, he's doing very well for himself, what with his prime-time Saturday night comedy vehicle, and him appearing on Top Gear earlier tonight. While Channel Four have got their own pet comedian – Jimmy Carr – BBC One have adopted McIntyre as their own Official Jester to the Nation. You might snicker at the concept, but this time next year we’ll all be sat in front of Michael McIntyre’s House Party, and who’ll be laughing then?

No-one. No-one will be laughing. No, we don’t care that we’ve borrowed that gag from Bob Monkhouse.

If there’s anything positive to say about this, it’s probably that McIntyre is an inspiration to all the sub-par gagsmiths out there peddling routines about the fundamental differences between men and women, those infernal ‘mobile’ ‘phones’ and hey! What would it be like if Gordon Brown got stoned, eh? All those open mic night boo-magnets could actually make it big after all, and better yet, they won’t even have to improve their material. All they need to do is concentrate on not being threatening to Marie Clare readers, and pulling a smug face like a toddler who’d just made potty on their own for the first time after every punchline, and a spot next to Jason Manford on Eight Out Of Ten Cats is in the bag!

In reality though, McIntyre’s not going to go away. And, if he’s not going to bugger off of our screens any time soon, well, we’ll just have to try and make him funny. So, how do we propose to achieve this form of light-ent alchemy? Craig Ferguson may have the answer.

Throughout the 1980s, Scottish comedian Craig Ferguson was moderately well-known, but never really made it to Division One (it being the 1980s, and the Premiership not having been invented yet), despite there being many more TV opportunities for new comedians at the time. You could probably argue that performing under the stage name Bing Hitler probably had a lot to do with that, but hey, that’s what early-era Channel Four was for.

Instead, he made do with the occasional guest appearance, in shows like Red Dwarf (as Lister’s confidence made flesh), Chelmsford 123 and festive Meldrum epic One Foot In The Algarve. At one point, he landed a broadcast pilot for ITV, with a single episode of The Craig Ferguson Show going out in the Spitting Image/Hot Metal/Hale & Pace Sunday night pre-Bragg slot. Despite input from Paul Whitehouse, Charlie Higson and Helen Atkinson-Wood, the show wasn’t picked up for a series, which is fairly damning given Hale & Pace were given ten series (10!) in the same slot.

Ferguson did land a full series on BBC2 in 1993, called The Ferguson Theory. Despite imdb claiming two series existed, we’re fairly sure it only lasted for one, and that we only managed to catch the last episode of it. If it’s the show we’re thinking of, it ended with a musical montage of clips, followed by the exchange “That’s your party tape?” “Aye. The party’s crap.” We may be wrong, there.

In 1994, Ferguson moved to the USA, taking in a few small parts in sitcoms before landing a key role in what we’ll forever refer to as The Criminally Underrated Drew Carey Show. Despite putting on what he gleefully admits to being a terrible English accent throughout much of the shows eight seasons, he was a hit, and was soon a minor darling of the talk show circuit, occasionally standing in as guest host (for Craig Kilborn) on post-Letterman jabberfest The Late Late Show.

In December 2004, Ferguson became the full-time host of The Late Late Show, replacing a Hollywood bound Kilborn. And do you know what? He’s bloody good at it. The Late Late Show is (we think) the only one of the big US chatshows not to make it to air over here (with Leno and Carson appearing on CNBC, and Letterman on whichever channel’s turn it is to try and make him popular over here), so it’s not easy to see Ferguson at his best. However, thanks to YouTube we can check out how Craig Ferguson will happily open shows by miming to They Might Be Giants records, by calling non-voters morons, or (and this is an important bit) by performing one of the greatest opening monologues ever:


That embedded video right there is the reason we’ve got a huge amount of time for Craig Ferguson. That and the fact he still avoids pronouncing his first name as “Creg” to try and fit in with the US audience (seriously, we’d have expected it to be one of the conditions of his US citizenship). So, compare Michael McIntyre's stand-up to, say, Craig Ferguson's. Now, Ferguson has gone through a history of cocaine, heroine and alcohol abuse, followed by a planned suicide attempt and eventually rehabilitation. He dips into his past experiences when he goes into his routines, and it undoubtedly make a huge difference to the quality of his act.

So: here’s the plan. Turn Michael McIntyre into an addict. And, of course, then into rehab, and then back onto our screens. With him being able to dip into his own harrowing experiences, he’ll have a lot more source material to put through his “unique” comedic filter. No more three minute bits about how you can never find a biro that works when you need to write down a phone number, because he’s too busy telling the story of the time he shared a needle with an ex-lapdancer from Swansea.

Reckon it’ll work? We’re saying: it’s worth a try. Here’s our totaliser:


As you can see, we’re already off to a cracking start, with enough raised to get him a packet of Lemsip. Keep an eye out for our special BrokenTV Bring & Buy sales, where you can bring in your old Jim Davidson’s Snooker Balls-Ups and Chubby Brown videos for us to sell. With luck on our side, we could be up to Wkd Blue by the end of the month!


When Graham Norton dies and arrives at the pearly gates, St Peter will look him up (in his Big Book O'Lifetimes) and say "Oh dear. Oh deary dear. Look at your life’s work, Mr Norton. Years upon years of sniggering at strange American people’s homepages whilst sitting next to ‘cult’ celebrities on television, and Totally Saturday was absolutely inexcusable... BUT, you did do that One Foot In The Grave quip at the Baftas, so... yeah, fair enough. In you go."


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