Magazine article The Spectator

Game for a Laugh

Magazine article The Spectator

Game for a Laugh

Article excerpt

In spite of the hype, I enjoy the World Cup. But I don't enjoy the omnipresent James Corden, who played the clingy, footie-loving, curry-scoffing, lager-glugging, belly-baring, deeply annoying best friend in Gavin and Stacey. That was funny. Bringing the same persona into his World Cup Live programmes (ITV, too often) is just embarrassing. Corden is from that school of comedians who think that laughing a lot is, in itself, funny. He's like that table full of drunks in a restaurant who imagine you share their hilarity, when actually you loathe them. He is a human vuvuzela, making a loud and meaningless noise, because he can.

His first show, after the England v. USA match, included, for no apparent reason, Simon Cowell, who may feel that he doesn't get enough exposure on television already.

Cowell spent most of a grim half-hour looking in need of a red button to press in order to get rid of everyone else. And there was Katy Perry, who is an American pop singer.

Her fiance, Russell Brand, is apparently a West Ham fan. So?

Worst of all, even though the programme began just 20 minutes after the match ended, it in no way reflected the national mood of mingled pity and resentment we all felt for Robert Green, the wretched England goalkeeper. It felt packaged and preplanned. They couldn't have changed it if England had just won 6-0 or been humiliatingly defeated.

Presumably ITV felt that by signing a footie-loving, curry-scoffing, etc. , fattie they would appeal to the average fan. But these are exactly the bucket-of-vindaloo people the average fan despises, especially at World Cup time, when millions of people who couldn't care less about football for three years and 11 months are drawn into the fun and spectacle. And what do they get? James Corden. Aargh!

Frost on Satire (BBC4, Thursday) had intriguing interviews with satirists such as Ian Hislop, Rory Bremner, John Lloyd of Spitting Image, Tina Fey and Jon Stewart from The Daily Show, which is a consistently funny take on the day's American news - a far broader canvas than we can offer on our small island. There was a lot of interesting material; it was good to be reminded of the way Tina Fey didn't just do an impression of Sarah Palin but also became Sarah Palin in a way that the Republican candidate for vice-president could never quite manage herself. …

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