The great thing about being a TV addict is pressing the “pause” button on the remote control and pointing out to family members that the actress playing the part of the policewoman was in “Holby City” and the actor playing the doctor was in “Game of Thrones”.
This means that watching an hour-long TV show with me can easily turn into a two hour experience. My family, especially Mrs FitzjamesHorse has often expressed admiration for my extensive knowledge of Television from 1959 to date.
Take….James Corden, now apparently the new David Letterman in the United States. I have never actually seen his show …nor do I want to.
When I think of James Corden, I tend to think of him as one of the six A level students (they all looked as if in their mid-20s) in the movie “The History Boys” or playing one scene in “Dalziel and Pascoe” in repeats on Channel 132.
Or as the younger brother of the Only Gay in the Village on “Little Britain”. Or a jobbing actor in “Fat Friends”.
Seemingly the friendship with Ruth Jones began on the latter shows and the writing partnership produced “Gavin and Stacey” in which they both played parts.
James Corden certainly embraced the full “luvvie”/laddish experience (hosting “A League of Their Own”) showcasing his matiness with Jamie Redknapp, Jack Whitehall and Freddie Flintoff.
It is difficult to imagine James Corben saying “no” to any script or idea. His partnership with Matthew Horne, co-star of “Gavin and Stacey” was short-lived. They had over-reached themselves. Hubris. And their friendship was damaged.
But….where are they now? Showbiz is fickle. Of the “History Boys” chorus, only Russell Tovey seems a regular on the telly. The Only Gay in the Village (Matt Lucas) was originally better known than David Walliams, his “Little Britain” partner but now Walliams seems more popular. Ruth Jones has a sit-com on “Sky” but is better known as the face of Tesco….no doubt lucrative but hardly rewarding in a creative sense. Matthew Horne shows up in mediocre sit-coms like “Angela Raisin” and “Bad Education”.
But how is that James Corden got to be an A-lister?
Take Ricky Gervais…you might just remember him on the little remembered Channel 4 comedy series which introduced Ali G. But of course “The Office” which he wrote and starred in was a classic. We all know the Boss who tries too hard and wants to be our friend. In that last Christmas Special, we were rooting for David Brent.
If anything, I think his follow-up “Extras” was better. A cleverly observed take on show-biz and the hierarchy of stardom. Arguably when his struggling actor,Andy Millman actually became famous thru writing and starring in a sit-com….pestered by fans to say his catchphrase….it revealed something about Ricky Gervais himself. Millman became arrogant and unable to find a follow up….his career came full circle in “Celebrity Big Brother” sharing the house with fading stars.
Seemingly Gervais was on a roll. A guest appearance as an exaggerated version of himself on The Simpsons. But his comedy “Derek” set in a nursing home was poor.
At his best, Ricky Gervais addresses taboo subjects like Disability but there is something uncomfortable. He is cruel. He considers Offence to be “the colateral damage of Free Speech”. That goes too far for me.
In some ways the Gervais career mirrors the career of his character, Andy Millman. It increasingly looks like he is a man who had two good ideas.
He is as much a “luvvie” as James Corden. The difference is that Corden has unlimited belief in his own talent. He is an entertainer who wants to be a megastar. But has no great ambition to be a genius.
Corden is not going to say anything deep and meaningful about Brexit and Donald Trump. Gervais is.
In a Christmas message on Facebook, Ricky Gervais rants that 2016 has given him lots of material (Brexit and Trump) …a good thing but that his stand-up persona is “playing the arrogant, misinformed know-it-all”. Now he agonises that his audience will not see the irony and actually agree with him.
In other words, Ricky Gervais is…in his own view….smarter than many in his audience. Of course he is not the only comedian who thinks of himself as smarter than ordinary folks….especially folks who vote……Stephen Fry, Eddie Izzard, the cast of Mock The Week and Saturday Night Live and Jake O’Kane.
And I havent even written “liberal elite”.
Comedy is at least in part about Observation and who exactly are comedians observing? Each other?
I find this Disconnexion worrying. Well actually I am too old to find anything worrying but whether it is politicians, journalists, football pundits or comedians or……bloggers, they all seem remarkably out of touch with what real people are thinking.