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Fascinating Viewing - if only for its awkwardness
Just to clear things up. Some have suggested that this documentary is in fact staged, and that, as both comedians are adept and familiar with the comedy of awkwardness, they have created a fictional interview. This, however, is not the case.
People see it as naive to think this is real, but from what we know about Gervais' persona and comments made afterwards from other writers, friends, comedians (Gervais nor Shandling have yet commented on this interview), it becomes more apparent that what was taking place was 'car crash TV. Combined with simple understandings of body language, linguistics, conversation analysis and basic social conduct, it is obvious Shandling's guard is up from the start.
Knowledge of Shandling suggests he is notoriously difficult to get along with, and rarely does TV interviews. Gervais on the other hand, is more loquacious and comfortable in front of the camera as 'himself' - he appears frequently on chat shows, interviews, etc. It would not be too unthinkable therefore, that Shandling mistakes Gervais' over confidence with a superiority thing, and instead goes on the attack. It has been argues that Shandling genuinely suffers from a superiority complex, and this would go quite far in explaining his reaction to Gervais manner of interviewing.
Compared to the interviews Gervais did with Christopher Guest and Larry David, it is strikingly obvious that the tone of the whole interview is different, more edgy and uncomfortable. At one point, in discussing taboo subjects of comedy, Shandling accuses Gervais of being anti-Semitic, and told Gervais he looked like a naughty school boy, knowing he was being mischievous. Gervais seems genuinely perplexed by this and then has to explain the nuances of awkward comedy to Shandling (Shandling - the godfather of awkward comedy).
To me, this is engaging viewing. Channel four nearly pulled the plug on airing (instead it was delayed 6 months, then aired at an impossible viewing time) a\and the reasons are clear why. Shandling comes across pompous, egotistical and totally unwilling to engage with Gervais at any other level than his own.
It is a real privilege to get to hear so much from Ricky Gervais, and it is a rare thing from most other comedians. Be it his stand-up tours, DVD extras, pod casts, interviews - I feel I have an understanding of his humour, better than most. So to see this humour go above Shandlings head - for it to even be challenged as politically incorrect - makes Shandling guilty of being out of touch with modern comedy.
Having just seen this film, I believe that some superlatives are warranted! The performances in this film are hauntingly powerful, most notably Gerald Mcsorley, whose immense portrayal adds credibility and resonance to the tragic story. The direction is magnificent...mostly shot in the style of a documentary, while refraining from actually being a mockumentary. This also adds weight. The fact that this creative, interesting and powerful film only finds a home on TV, rather than at the cinemas...while films like Sex lives and the Potato Men gets a general release, says a lot about the British Film industry!
An fitting tribute to one of Britains BEST comedy shows
At last. The good people at the BBC have decided to release a compilation DVD for, perhaps, Britains finest comedy show. Not only were its panelists spot on with issues surrounding current affairs, but they delt with it in such an amazing satirical way, that even the hard nosed conservatives found it funny in places.
Spanning 12 years and 22 series(as of 2002), this show has earned a place as Britains longest running comedy show. And its not hard to see why. The regulars comprising of Team Captain #1 (IAN HISLOP), Team Captain #2 (PAUL MERTON) and host (ANGUS DEATON), welcome a 2 guest each episode to mull over the weeks current news affairs. WIth the guest list reading like a Who's Who of Brittish tabloid, each show (since 1990) is kept amazingly fresh. Paul Merton remains unbeleivabley hilarious and, haircuts aside, hasnt changed his surreal/spot on humour. It seems this man gets funnier with age. Ian Hislop, for me evokes a sense of awe, with his anarchic brand of comedy and political awareness directing the show, the way it needs to go. Finally Angus Deaton (there is no other person capable of taking his place) anchors the show SO well (forget the fact he is reading from an auto-cue), ad-libbing fantastically, when appropriate.
The DVD has several extras, but the pick being the audio commentary from Ian Hislop and Paul Merton, which has them recalling each episode and era. They are both on top gag cracking form ,and it fills you with weird sense of chivallry, as you here them getting on like two school kids.
As a plea to the BBC, either get Angus back....or kill this amazing, definative comedy.
Is Bill Murray God?
...not quite , but his performance in Scrooged isnt far behind omnipitancy. With exception to Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day, this is probably one of his most hilarious performances to date. In this re-working of Dickens "A Christmas Carol" , Murray plays Frank Cross, a tight fisted,selfish Network Executive who, as christmas rapidly approaches, finds himself needing to hasten up proceedings on his networks live Christmas Carol show, which is airing on Christmas eve. From the very start of the film, we are treated to how unkind and selfish, Murrays character really is, yet we still cant bring ourselves to hate him.....even when he suggests to a prop man that he should STAPLE little plastic antlers to the heads of door-mice.
Due to a very creepy encounter with his dead boss, Cross is warned that he will be visited by 3 ghosts, and so the story takes off, as he meets 3 very unusual ghosts with even weirder traits, such as the ghost of christmas present, who likes to randomly beat Cross up, every time he shows no heart. Best of all is the NOO YAWK talkin taxi driver, who i feel almost steals the show from Murray ....which is one of the hardest things in the world!!!
Running throughout the film, is, ...sadly, a rather weak sub plot of Cross and his ex-lover, which , i love for all the wrong reasons.....but sadly, to people who have never seen the film, might find a bit tedious.
But of course....its Murray who comes away from this looking cool, as , even though he has experienced some genuinely scary things ( the halucination of a waiter on fire is still creepy), we lap up his dead pan reactions to it all!!