Around our house, the biggest laughs in years have come from the absurd British series Little Britain, the brainchild of two insanely perceptive comedians. I praise the BBC for bringing out stuff like this, when we here in America are stuck with the fat-suburban-white-guys-with-absurdly-good-looking-wives syndrome. Hopefully The Office (um, hi there BBC!) and My Name is Earl, which has it’s moments, will prove more to be the trend.
The actors of Little Britain are amazing for how well they play women. Unlike Python, who played women and were funny because they were so ridiculously not women, some of the ladies that Matt Lucas plays read as utterly true, not drag personas, especially Marjorie Dawes the bitter power hungry leader of Fat Fighters. Or Vicky, the disturbingly dumb and messed up teenager.
In the next scene, though, he becomes the bald wheelchaired Andy and the former character is gone. Andy and Lou—the skit originated with improving around Lou Reed and Andy Warhol hanging out. I love that a start like that ends up where it did. Between each scene, the actors become different people. The last persona is totally wiped—it’s like a different actor. David Walliams is just as talented—the two are an unbeatable pair.
Little Britain is mostly about identity, and how people choose to represent their own. More than that, it’s about defending identities in the face of outrageous reasons not to, and the ridiculous lengths people go to defend their created identities. As the cliche goes, it’s so funny because it’s so real.
And also because it’s clever. How many times do you hear a narrator, in a awe-inspiring authoritative voice inform you that “This is Andy. It’s his birthday in a little over a year.” Or, “In Britain, unlike other places, we have two sexes—men and women.”
The other night we went to bed after watching a few episodes, and fell asleep with the radio turned on to NPR. It played all night, and in the morning we awoke to dreams of the show before realizing that the actors were actually being interviewed on the radio. I actually awoke to Christine’s laughter as catch phrases from their characters came out.
I haven’t laughed this hard since my first viewing of Mr. Show. Well worth picking up for repeated viewings.
Posted by: Martin McClellan
On the date of: October 16, 2005 10:22 PM