TV Cream


Fist of Fun

Jelly not picturedLast chance for a half-decent TV comedy book before Mitchell and Webb! Stewart Lee and Richard Herring’s debut TV series was deceptively ramshackle in appearance, but with plenty of finely-wrought comedy under the Tipp-Ex-stained bonnet – a self-reflexive and self-deprecating take on the age-old “Why Don’t You..? as presented by terminally hip perpetual student and pathologically unworldly West Country pervert” chestnut. In essence, they were you and your mate riffing into a tape recorder about the secret life of Steve Priestley while wondering where all the girls had gone. Only funny. Throw in Peter Baynham’s tragic Welsh manchild with a life bypass and you had the de facto comedy mascots of the Britpop years, as Vic Reeves was to baggy or Chris Morris to, er, whatever people listened to in 1997.

No surprise, then, that the paper spin-off, lovingly modelled on the classical architecture of its Python and Goodies predecessors, was worth the £8.99 price tag in a way that contemporary efforts by The Mary Whitehouse Experience and Father Ted weren’t. Ice T, Patrick Marber, Tony Parsons and The Fall loomed large. A page of Nelson’s Column-style fag packet BBC sitcom concepts struck comedy gold with the contrived likes of Otherfoot’s Shoe and Myy Cup Upstairs. Cornish curmudgeons were excoriated, mediocrity and Ians of all stripes celebrated, and gratuitous mentions of Leee’s Place and Gaz Top Non Stop helped future generations date its provenance precisely. (Although if we’re being pernickety, the rather flat “Adobe – the Early Years” graphic design’s a pretty big clue as well.)

There was, inevitably, controversy. A routine about Brian Keenan was nixed at the copy editing stage on legal advice,  but Simon Quinlank’s jauntily blasphemous Christian Church Crawl hobby (“So far I have eaten seven whole Jesuses plus one of Jesus’s legs!”) oddly wasn’t, despite being denied an airing on TV. There was even a pisstake of Nigel Rees’s Graffiti books, tipping the nod to decades-old toilet book tradition. Only Adam and Joe came close to such a sustained comic effort in the ensuing years (with a similar DIY aesthetic), while everyone else just punted out a DVD with a few drunken commentaries tacked on the end. The idiots.



  1. Rob Free

    November 11, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    Great to see this. They are both still so funny. Going to Stewart on the 25th. Front row seats. Can’t wait!

  2. johnnyboy

    November 12, 2009 at 2:25 am

    I saw Stewart last night (10th Nov) in Aberdeen, he was just brilliant!! It’s great how he actually encourages the audience to be part of his routine and when he drops his mic on stage and goes out into the crowd to scream his tortured ramblings whilst standing on one of the tables is just fantastic! He even spoke to me a couple of times too (I was right at the front as well). Asked me a question even:

    Stewart, “what did she say?”
    Me: “did you wear a badge?”

    I’ll say no more as Rob’s going to see him. Enjoy!!

  3. Ste

    November 13, 2009 at 6:24 am

    The Collings and Herrin Podcast is also worthy of a listen.

  4. Chris Jones

    November 14, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Hey Rob, I’ve got front row seats for the 25th too! I’ll be the tall bloke in the glasses!

  5. Ben epic45

    November 15, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    ah, TVCream, bringing people together!

  6. mat

    November 29, 2009 at 9:35 am

    Hey Ben, fancy meeting you here!

  7. Matty

    May 17, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    I’m pretty sure that the Simon Quinlank “Church Crawl” did make it to telly, mainly because I remember it despite never owning the book (sadly). I seem to recall him being pissed as a fart on communion wine by the end of it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top