Long and drawn out...
TV shows are fun things to watch being recorded. In general that is. But with comedy TV shows there is something extra that's needed. They are meant to be not only fun but also funny. Now it's a given that the only reason why a live audience is there at a recording at all is to provide laughter and something for the people down on the set to react with. It obviously helps the program makers no end if there is genuine laughter and a degree of bonhomie in the studio that they can transfer to their final edit. It makes for a better show.
And so it was with last night's recording of Never Mind The Buzzcocks. We were there to have a good time. To laugh. And we tried. We really did. We laughed at all that we could - and then some. We laughed at the Liberance gags, we laughed at the Stephen Hawking gags, we laughed at the My Fair Lady gags and even the fisting gags. The problem was that they needed to keep that momentum going while they recorded the whole show. But there were long pauses where nothing happened and inevitably people began to get a bit restless with all those stops and starts. For example, Round One took just over an hour to record. Frankly we were all getting a bit bored by the end. Certainly after three hours I think we'd all had enough. When it first started to flag Mark Lamarr tried to pick things up by starting his usual routine of insulting the audience for not laughing at his jokes by claiming we didn't understand them. "Have to never heard of Japan, you morons?", "Einstein? No? You thick or something?" No Mark, we understood the jokes - it's just they weren't that funny.
Ben was good and got to make some witty quips. He wasn't really allowed to shine though as the established trio of comics had been working together on the show for some time.
Towards the end of the recording something strange happened though. It may have been the hot lights, or the fact that they had all been on the set for too long or simply that desperation was setting in. But they all started to trip over their words. Or say things in gibberish. Or make really surreal comments. Basically they all went a bit loopy. Now none of them had left the set to get "some refreshments" or "powder their noses" so it was rather hard to fathom what was going on. When I spoke to Ben afterwards he said he hadn't noticed it but we sure did. Maybe it's a phenomenon that helps to explain Suzi Quattro and Cathy Denis's bizarre behaviour on the show in recent weeks.
Ironically there were a number of American TV producers in the audience. Apparently one of the US networks is buying up the format to produce it across the pond. Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't. But if you live in the US my advice would be don't go and see it being recorded. Watch it on the box when it's hopefully been distilled into something worth watching.