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You Gotta Be Jokin’!

GHASTLY ATTEMPT to introduce family comedy to a peaktime Saturday audience mainly through the imposition of SHANE RICHIE wearing striped dungarees and telling jokes about MPs tucking their shirts into their underpants. Richie was joined by watered-down adult comic BILLY PEARCE, as both his camp gagteller and as the pointless Panto Man, and future XYZ host GEORGE MARSHALL for the bleakest impressions routines (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clive Anderson). Better fare came from the two women involved, mimic singer MADDI CRYER (whose take on Karen Carpenter needed to be heard to be believed) and ANNETTE LAW, impersonator of Penelope Keith and, er, other people. Episodes began with each cast member sliding down a fireman’s pole to tell a reassuringly clean joke (“What do you call a fight in an Indian restaurant? An onion argy-bhaji!”) or deliver a useless bon mot (“I went to see my optician yesterday – what a waste of time. If you can see your optician, you don’t need to see your optician…”). Then, aside from the dodgy stand-up, we got juvenile, punchlineless sketches and songs (“we don’t mind personal stereos and we don’t mind if you smoke!”) plus sub-NTNO’CN news bulletins (Marshall as Trevor McDonald, Law as Anna Ford) and the forgettable synopsis sumups entitled “Ten Second Cinema Presents…”. Dated for its time although anyone who had seen Pearce’s immense live show knew straightaway he did it purely for money and exposure. Ended each show with a celebrity (JASON DONOVAN, JAMES WHALE) saying “You gotta be jokin’!” in a totally unironic manner. Richie’s performances and apparent status as unofficial “leader” (always first down the pole, first to do his stand-up, first on the credits), got him CAUGHT IN THE ACT and trapped us all, although the striped dungarees were chucked out.

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