One of the drier comedy men doing the rounds in the late nineties was wee scot Armando Iannucci. Iannucci was one of the brains behind many of the best comedy shows of the last twenty years, and collaborated with figures like Chris Morris and Steve Coooooogan. The problem is that, whilst Iannucci is a clever writer and a fine producer, he’s a horribly smug little half man. Anyway, here are a few of his better sketches, starting with one of his absolute worst.
In this sketch Ian Ucci wittily disassembles the components of traditionally stand up comedy, cleverly creating uncomfortable humor out of the failure of his power point based punchlines to be in any way entertaining. Dry call / response jokes are announced in the context of a deathly silent business conference. Ironically, the decontexualisation of comedy both from it’s usual energetic character based delivery and it normative location provides Ewchee chee with permission to reiterate cracker borne staples of Christmas dinner table comedy, direct from his unassailable little castle of gloat.
The world E. Ann. Yoo She develops through the course of his sketch show(s) is a bright shiny contemporary British dystopia, peopled by surreal middle class caricatures. Our man though bestrides this Ballardian passion play, a Pickwickian Jesu, guiding us with mad life advice. In the following sketch Eeee aaaaaaah new chi relates an infallible method he has discovered, which allows one to attain ‘the good life’.
Next, perhaps Hour Men Do’s finest sketch (he writes more funnier if he’s not in it), featuring a man dying of boredom. This sketch perfectly captures the hellishly banal anomie of our now how fail lives.
Arg mandalin’s best sketches illuminate the evergreen conformity of home county life. This next sketch ‘Village Sniper’, is both a literal and allegorical assault on the self effacing politeness and delusional dullness of British life.
‘Knife Attack Reunion’ retooths the too oft imagined horror of physical violence by pairing it with the quiet desperation of formalised late middle aged socialising. Aw ur ma’ dough’s subtle touches of inter-class awkwardness are sheer genius.
Finally, in ‘Vicar in Love’, Yar man De an ooch pills creates a moment of transcendent absurdity, worthy of Brass Eye. A four minute drama with almost no action or budget, questions our assumptions about sexuality, community, and religion. It’s like the wicker man, minus the evil pagans and Nick Cage. Watch for the visual joke in the last frame. This is comedy.