Comedy reality shows have been done before - the Russell Brand-fronted Channel 4 series Kings of Comedy attempted something very similar in 2004 - but nobody has managed to make one stick. Stand-up performed on telly has always been a strange beast and it's only in recent years that TV commissioners have seemed to get their heads around it with McIntyre's Roadshow and Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle.
Whereas those stand-up shows allow for build-up, development of personas and complete freedom for the performers, Show Me The Funny consists of manipulated performances (on last night's show it was a five-minute gig for an all-female Liverpool crowd) and we are only offered two-minute snippets of each of the 10 comics. Some of the stand-ups were awful, which was fine, but more worryingly none of them were particularly great.
The "tests" for the first 30 minutes of the episode are bizarre. Sent out in pairs on the streets of Liverpool, the comics had challenges ranging from the very odd (find 10 women called Michelle) to the utterly bizarre (work in a hair salon for an afternoon). The idea is that this will inspire them all with new material, but it was truly baffling to watch.
Competition-wise, half-Spanish and half-Welsh comedian Ignacio Lopez departed after only one performance. If his womanizing Magaluf barman schtick was an act, he was actually pretty impressive. If it wasn't, then it was slightly alarming. The fact it wasn't possible for me, the judges (or possibly even Ignacio) to tell, may actually have been a stroke of genius. But sadly, the most interesting act has gone.
Instead, we're left with Prince, a man who thought it would be a hilarious idea to wander around stage doing an appalling Scouse accent for five minutes, and warm-up man Patrick, a guy so irritating he'd give The Apprentice's Stuart Baggs a run for his money. Out of the rest there are a handful of half-decent observationalists. Maybe the biggest laughs haven't been shown yet. Maybe.
Judge Kate Copstick ("most people think I'm a bitch") was a notable highlight. A cross between The Apprentice's Margaret Mountford and Cruella de Vil, she's got waspish put-downs and a sharpened devilish tongue that can make you wince like nails down a chalkboard. Alan Davies is pretty likeable as well, bumbling along and flopping his mop-hair around as he's done on QI and Jonathan Creek for the past 15 years.
In fact it was one of Alan Davies's criticisms that summed up the show's problems pretty well: "I didn't get you, or who you are. It's all a bit confusing." Show Me The Funny had only the briefest glimmers of lols and there definitely wasn't a rofl in sight. However, it is only episode one. Once it's decided what sort of show it wants to be, there could be an entertaining reality TV nugget inside.
> Show Me The Funny: Meet the 10 stand-ups
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