Epsiode 229: talking comedy

Martyn, Chris, and Sam are back. This week, they’re talking comedy. But what exactly is comedy and, who decides what’s funny?

The dictionary describes comedy as;

professional entertainment consisting of jokes and sketches, intended to make an audience laugh.”

But, is that an accurate or relevant description? Your dynamic trio discuss their favourite comedians/influences, such as Lee Evans, Robin Williams, Paul Whitehouse, Shappi Khorsandi, Jon Culshaw and, Dave Chappelle.

They also talk about “cancel culture” and ask questions such as “should it be one rule for comedians and one rule for everyone else?” and “what role should context play when telling a joke?”

The intro is taking from Dave Chappelle’s 2019 Netflix special ‘sticks & stones’.

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Martyn – @BadWilf

Gerrod –@InGerrodsMind

Pete – @BeeblePete



Artwork by Penny Smallshire


Convenience tells the story of two life long friends A.Jay (Ray Panthaki) and Shaan (Adeel Akhtar), as they find themselves in deep with some Russian gangsters and a very limited time to settle the £8,000 debt that Shaan has racked up.
They decide the easiest way to get the money is to rob a near-by petrol garage. Unfortunately the safe has a time-lock and won’t open until 6am the following morning.

Their only option is to tie-up the manager and a customer in the back office, pose as employees and work a shift in the petrol garage.

If this ordeal wasn’t stressful enough, they soon learn there’s another employee in the stock room. Luckily for them, Levi (Vicky McClure) thinks they’re the two new trainees that have shown up a day early. They now face the challenge of keeping Levi out the office.

It’s lack of budget doesn’t show on screen. It’s beautifully shot and is held up by a great, yet simple premise. It also hosts some impressive cameos from Anthony Head (Buffy), Tony Way (Game of Thrones) and Verne Troyer (Austin Powers) they each play odd-ball characters that A.Jay and Shann encounter on their shift.
Overall, Convenience is a great example of low budget British comedies. The film manages to capture the tedium of retail work, yet is always watchable due to a great script and stellar performances from the cast.

Listen to our interviews from the press junket here

Film review-This is 40

Judd Apatow has grown as a director. He started out doing funny-vulgar 20130102-090252.jpghumour, like “Knocked Up” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” and producing similar comedies. Like with his last movie “funny people” Apatow has opted to not totally ignore the vulgar humour, but to intercut it with deeper subject matters, such as love, marriage, parenthood, responsibility and family, for the most part, it works.
“This is 40” is a spin-off to “knocked up” With Paul Rudd (Pete) Leslie Mann (Debbie) Maude Apatow (Sadie) and Iris Apatow (Charlotte) all reprising their roles. You may notice the absence of Katherine Heigel and Seth Rogen, this is due to Heigel very opening bashing Apatow during the press conferences for Knocked Up. Although Seth Rogen doesn’t appear, his character is mentioned.
Times are tough for the family, Sadie is going through puberty and is turning into a drama queen and they’re having huge financial difficulty. Pete’s record company is going bust and his deadbeat dad (Albert Brooks) is sponging money from him.

The first half of the movie plays out like a standard Apatow comedy, but then it goes a lot deeper and examines the characters relationships and problems. It becomes more and more interesting as the story unfolds. What’s unique about this film is, there is no obvious happy ending. The characters still annoy each other, there isn’t a quick-fix happy ever after ending, which really makes this movie stand heads and shoulders above the rest.

I enjoyed this movie and I loved catching up with these characters, but it was a little too long. Some scenes could have easily been cut, to make it run a bit smoother. With the same cast and creative team this would make an excellent HBO or Showtime series.

Friends With Benefits DVD Review

After his critically acclaimed performance in The Social Network, it would have been nice to see Justin Timberlake in a role that stretched him but this movie isn’t it. This is the safe movie, to keep his acting CV ticking over.

Calling it the safe movie isn’t at all derogatory. It is a rom-com that has actually remembered to add some com. Friends with benefits make fun of the usual rom-com clichés but it’s smart enough to not completely avoid them. You don’t want to upset the very audience you want to attract.

Timberlake plays Dylan, who’s moving to The Big Apple to work for GQ. Jamie (Mila Kunis) is a headhunter who convinces him to leave his LA-based blog and head to New York. Due to their disastrous past relationships, they are both attracted to the idea of no strings sex. Continue reading Friends With Benefits DVD Review

DVD review: Micky Flanagan: The Out Out Tour

If you like stand up comedy then you can’t go wrong with this offering from Micky Flanagan.

The DVD includes a whole host of new material, as well as some of his older material, which includes the jokes “out-out” and asking for ketchup in a restaurant.
Flanagan’s charm is that he comes across as less of a performer and more as a friend, talking to a room full of friends. Which adds to his warmth and depth.

Micky went to a school, where driving a van was an ambition too far beyond the comprehension of the average student.
Micky is a skilful comedian and excels at observational humour. If you prefer your comedians safe, like Michael McIntyre, then this isn’t for you.

Micky Flanagan is a star in the making, it takes a serious amount of skill to turn the mundanity of watching a kettle boil, or running a bath into a laugh out loud stand-up routine, but he manages it effortlessly.

TV Review-Life’s Too Short Episode 4

This episode starts with Warwick flat hunting with Cheryl, his assistant. The scene is a clever reference back to Extras that seems to have been overlooked by every other critic. But then, other critics are busy bashing Life’s too short, as this is Gervais’ year for a media bashing.

The Daily Mail recently had to print a retraction after massaging the viewing figures, they only reported the overnight figures, which given the way we watch TV nowadays, are completely redundant as they don’t include viewers who record it and watch it later or people who access it via the Iplayer. It is funny that they only do it with popular shows, you never see ‘Homes under the hammer down 100 viewers’.

Anyway, in Extras, Andy Millman tried to impress a journalist from the Guardian.  Andy asked his friend Maggie to pretend to be his assistant. Warwick is trying to impress the estate agent; into thinking, he is more important than he is. The estate agent is the same actress who played the journalist.  It’s a great scene, which again showcases Warwick’s excellent comic timing. Warwick has a real knack for physical comedy and I predict will win many awards next year.

Later in the episode, Warwick turns to Ricky and Steve when he finds out his wife is having more than a professional relationship, with their divorce lawyer.
While in their office, Warwick sits in on a skype chat between Ricky, Stephen and Steve Carroll. When Ricky badmouths Carroll after thinking he had quit Skype, things take a turn for the worse. Speaking as someone who has been in this situation, it felt just as authentic and just as awkward.
Now at the midway point, Life’s too short is turning in to one of the best sitcoms the year and you know what, I’m glad the mainstream media doesn’t like it.

Life’s too short airs on Thursdays at 9:30 pm, on BBC2

TV Review-Mongels Series 2:Episode 4

We start off at Vince’s wedding reception. Nelson is the best man. Vince only wants to be portrayed in a positive way, which means Nelson had to throw his original speech out, so Nelson turns to his friends for stories about Vince.

Nelson isn’t overly impressed when Marion brings up Vince’s weekends with his son and recounting the plot to various films, such as Twilight, Tron Legacy, and Freaky Friday with himself and Vince as the main characters. It worked quite well, but the joke wore a little thin after the second joke.
Nelson tells the story of when he and Vince were stranded on an island, a traffic island in the middle of a duel carriageway.  Vince tries to cook him. Nelson manages to talk him out of it.  Nelson then stops his story, after remembering he and Vince had sex.  This section is genuinely funny, with Nelson quoting “what happens on the Island, stays on the Island”.

Eventually, the truth about Vince comes out, which leads to a brilliant musical number called, Vince Is A Massive C***. After the song, the bride tells Vince that she loves him and says, “Kiss me you c***”. Vince kills her and is now widowed.

This was a great episode, let down only by the Kali flashback. Kali had a period in her life, where she thought she was Will Smith, this consisted of her just saying the titles to Will Smith movies. Frankly, it felt beneath Mongrels the joke suited a canned laugher sitcom.

Mongrels has truly hit the ground running, I await the announcement of the inevitable third series.

Mongrels airs on BBC3, on Mondays at 10:30 pm

Review-Mongrels Series 2: Episode 3

This was my favourite of the series yet. This episode is so crammed with little gems that it’s difficult to know where to begin.
Nelson is involved in a protest against the build, of a new supermarket. He foolishly leads his fellow protestors to their deaths, but in the process, he meets an older Vixen called Eileen.

Nelson and Eileen soon fall in love, but unknown to Nelson, Eileen is Vince’s mum. Nelson seeks Vince’s blessing and asks Eileen to marry him, but the surprise proposal causes her to have a fatal heart attack. Not wanting Vince to find out that, that’s how his mother died, Nelson asks Tim to take the body back to the nursing home. Along the way, Tim loses Eileen and she is sold to Zoe Ball, as a scarf.

Like last week, it was great to see a softer side to Vince. It’s a shame Eileen wasn’t kept around for a few more episodes. The father/son dynamic between Nelson and Vince would have been interesting to explore, but I’m starting to see that nothing lasts forever in the Mongrels universe.

Elsewhere, Kali has lost her spot on the fence to an African pigeon. Which leads to this week’s musical number, Immigration Nation. Which fitted the episode well. Kali tries all kinds of tactics to get rid of him and then joins a flock. Which after seeing human street-gangs, she believes will help her out. When this doesn’t work out, she tricks the immigrant pigeon into calling Eileen a slag, which prompts Vince to kill him, thus solving her problem. This was a funny subplot, which showed just how manipulative Kali could be when she isn’t getting her own way.

The other sub-plot involves Destiny and Marion, Destiny is angry with Gary after he takes her to the vets, so she pretends to run away, Gary finds him and takes him in. Which leads to bitter sibling rivalry between Destiny and Marion. It was great to see Destiny and Marion fight it out, like well, cat and dog.

Mongrels has hit the ground running this year, a third series is surely a must. This is fast becoming the television highlight of my week, its the only instance I’ve ever wished a British series was 22 episodes.
It won’t be long before we hear the word “American” quickly followed by the word “Remake”.

Mongrels airs on Mondays, 10:30 pm on BBC3

Mongrels: Series 2-Episode 2

The main movie parody here is Shaun Of The Dead. Destiny is in heat and it has turned every local dog into a sex-crazed zombie. Nelson, Destiny, Marion, and Vince lock themselves inside the pub.

I didn’t really like the main plot involving Nelson and Destiny, that could be because I haven’t seen the first series. I didn’t quite believe that a fox-like Nelson would fall for a dog like Destiny. It felt forced as if it were crafted just to suit the plot of this episode.

Nelson is trying to date Destiny, Destiny is hungry and knows that Nelson has access to food. There is an amusing moment which was a parallel to prostitution and what she would do for a dog biscuit.

It was the subplots that I found most interesting. It is Kali’s birthday so she celebrates by eating a badger on the road. A rickshaw driver runs it over and she wants revenge. She decides that the best way to do this is to blow him up. She then realises that the rickshaw driver had a seven-year-old son and feeling guilty she hits the bottle. Well, a brandy filled straw.

She decides to attend his funeral, so guilt-ridden she sits on his coffin and confesses. However, the rickshaw driver was a bird lover. The widow and her son think that Kali is the reincarnation of the driver and are overjoyed to see her. Kali’s mood is then lifted and she flies away, hitting the son in the face.

It was great to see an aloof character like Kali realise the consequence of her actions. The writers managed to capture her depression extremely well, I genuinely felt sympathy the murdering bird.

Back in the pub Marion has discovered a karaoke machine and attempts to throw a party which doesn’t go to plan. Vince hogs the karaoke machine after he discovers it helps with his Tourette Syndrome. Seeing a character like Vince belt out show tunes was funny. It was nice to see a softer side of him, even if it was just temporary.

The pop culture references are great in this episode, as well as the obvious Shaun Of The Dead, there is a nice moment where Marion reveals he lived in a house with the Being Human characters. This included a cameo from Russell Tovey, which now means he has starred in all three of the only three shows worth watching on BBC3. Whilst not as laugh out loud as episode one, episode two raised more than a few smiles. I hope Mongrels clears up come comedy award season.

Mongrels airs on Mondays at 10:30 pm, on BBC3


I’m a newcomer to Mongrels, somehow I missed the first series, which is strange as this is one of only a few shows worth watching on BBC3.

So, what’s Mongrels about?

It is a puppet-based show for adults, as a grown-up Sesame Street and is the closest thing we have in the UK to Family Guy.

Mongrels follows the exploits of a middle-class fox called Nelson (Rufus Hound), Nelson’s foul-mouthed cousin Vince (Paul Kaye), Streetwise pigeon Kali (Katy Brand), a dumb cat called Marion (Dan Tetsell) and a dog called Destiny (Lucy Montgomery). They all live in a pub garden on the Isle of Dogs.

The episode starts with a flashback to Nelson’s childhood where he witnessed his grandfather die during a fox hunt. Now an adult Nelson is in therapy. A former bully from Nelson’s school days turns up. The bully is dying and wants Nelson to put him out of his misery. Nelson reluctantly kills him and asks Marion to get rid of the body. Nelson and Kali share a psychiatrist who accidentally lets it slip. Kali spreads the gossip around the beer garden and Nelson is seen as a hero in the eyes of his friends.  Nelson is then recruited by a secret society of foxes that are planning to assassinate the four remaining dogs that were part of the hunts. Nelson is promised an iPhone and a £30 House of Fraser gift card if he completes the mission. Nelson tracks the four dogs down, but can’t quite bring himself to kill them, so he takes them back to his den under the pub.

What Mongrels excel at is the movie parodies and quick-fire out of the moment sequences that Family guy is famous for. The parody here is any Nazi hunter film that you have ever seen. The dogs speak in German accents and take their own lives when they think Nelson’s bunker is under siege.

The episode’s subplot involves Destiny being signed up to a celebrity dog walking service. She pretends to be Cuba Gooding Jr’s London dog and falls head over heels with John Terry’s dog. After John Terry’s dog turns her down, Destiny decides the only way forward is to treat him mean. John Terry’s dog is completely obsessed with her. Destiny then tells the other dogs to follow her lead, which they all do and this results in the dog’s trust. A passer-by sees the injured dogs and phones the Dogs Trust taking the dogs away.

The episode is genuinely funny. The flashbacks and Grange Hill references had me in stitches, the musical number that Destiny sings is also a genius piece of comedy writing. It’s safe to say that Mongrels has a new fan.

Mongrels airs on Mondays, at 10:30 pm on BBC3