Inconsistent and erratic- but also inventive, witty, mysterious and slightly mad, Noble and Silver are the chimeras of comedy
More than six years after watching Single Take, the first episode in this series by idiosyncratic duo, Noble and Silver, I retain only the impression that it was outstanding. Words such as inventive' 'clever' 'witty' 'mysterious' and 'stark' 'raving' 'mad' are used too often. They have become clichés, stripped of any real meaning. But I can only use these words, with their proper meaning reinvested, to describe Single Take.
Only a few scattered scenes come back to me- Noble and Silver rushing up and down Tottenham Court Road, sitting inside the Burger King next to the Virgin Megastore, and rushing down the back of Oxford Street through Soho Square into an office (not very helpful- I know, but then it was hardly traditional two act situation comedy!). Furiously shot on hand-held cameras, it was not really comedy in a conventional sense. It was more a witty, experimental short film or a video installation that you might just as easily be thrilled to see in an art gallery. It seems to me that Noble and Silver are the chimeras of comedy.
I'm pretty sure the series was shown on E4 (surely now it would be on More4). There were definitely more than the two episodes listed here- I believe there were six in total. Apart from Single Take, I can remember another episode in more detail. It was a recording of a live show by Noble and Silver, in a small theatre, solely for the benefit of an unknowing couple in the audience- the rest of the audience was made up of actors. The show was intentionally bad, with gags misfiring and the partnership of Noble and Silver appearing to self-destruct on stage before the audience. At the end, Noble and Silver, along with the audience of actors, addressed the couple, who looked shocked and incredulous. I guess the message of this episode was, to quote Pinter, that 'there can be no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal' (I promise to put down my well-thumbed book of quotations now, my substitute for...let me get my thesaurus...erudition).
I saw one or two more episodes. But I can't recall their contents, only the impression that I didn't like them very much, and it is because of the inconsistency that I failed to keep up with the erratic series, also perhaps spoiled by seeing Single Take first. Noble and Silver appear not to have been given a second series over the last six years, presumably because they have marginal appeal (or is it that they have turned their backs on Television in characteristically elusive, enigmatic fashion?). They may never be more than marginal because of their refusal to be pigeon-holed. But this is a rare and admirable quality in a world of Television comedy obsessed with catchphrase and the lowest common denominator. They are inventive, witty, mysterious and slightly mad, and it is a crying shame they don't appear more on Television.
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