Brydon v Coogan
With ‘The Trip’ making me laugh despite myself – a series so far up its own arse even the Baby Cow comedy cartel can smell the shit from their BBC dungeon – it reminded me of a piece from Swine way back in 2006. In ‘The Making Of Rob Brydon’s Annually Retentive’ (remember that?), we imagine the Welsh beaut pitching his parodic ironic quiz show concept to a commissioning editor…….T
Commissioning Editor, Comedy BBC3 – You know that we really want to work with you Rob, you’re exactly the kind of person we want at 3 it’s just…
Rob Bryden – Just what?
Comm Ed – Isn’t this just a bit, er….subtle?
RB – Subtle?
Comm Ed – I mean for a BBC3 audience.
RB – Well if you want me to do another Two Pints Of Lager.
Comm Ed – Don’t knock it Rob, it pulls in the viewers.
RB – Yeah an audience of idiots. Or maybe you want I dunno, Ideal. Good old fashioned northern stereotypes.
Comm Ed – Yeah but it’s Vegas though, you can’t lose with Johnny. Whereas this is…it’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just a bit….hackneyed
RB – Hackneyed? In what way is it Hackneyed? It’s totally original.
Comm Ed – Well, Gary Shandling did it years ago with the Larry Sanders Show.
RB – Larry Sanders! This is nothing like Larry fucking Sanders. Larry Sanders was a CHAT show, this is a QUIZ show. Where’s the connection?
Comm Ed – Well, it’s the same premise I suppose, you know the same deconstructive format isn’t it? Exposing the mechanics of the production process, how the presenter’s a careerist, egotistical tyrant riddled with self-doubt.
RB – I don’t believe this. This is ‘Rob Bryden’s Annually Retentive’ not Gary Shandling’s Annually Retentive, the two things are a million miles apart. I’m taking the piss out of myself as much as anyone else. That’s why my name’s in the title.
Comm Ed – I know and it is very YOU.
RB – Very ME, in what way is it very ME?
Comm Ed – Well, y’know it’s very 24 Hour Party People.
RB – I had a very minor role in that film, I was only on screen for about ten seconds.
Comm Ed – Yeah but you know what I mean Rob, the general structure of the film, very post-modern.
RB – Oh post-modern now is it? How is this post-modern? In what way.
Comm Ed – It’s a bit y’know Cock & Bull isn’t it?
RB – Fuck’s sake A Cock & Bull Story was a film, a FILM, not a sit-com, a FILM about the making of a film about a novel which is unfilmable. That’s the joke.
Comm Ed – And this is a sit-com about the making of a sit-com.
RB – That’s where you’re wrong because this is a sit-com about the making of a comedy panel quiz show. I don’t see the similarity, I really don’t. Are you trying to say that I’m predictable?
Comm Ed – No, not predictable so much, it’s just that you’ve got your own oeuvre.
RB – Oooh, I’ve got an oeuvre now have I? Go on then what’s my ‘oeuvre’ exactly?
Comm Ed – Y’know deadpan pastiche, knowing subversion of existing formats.
RB – Like what?
Comm Ed – Er, Director’s Commentary.
RB – This is a million miles away from Director’s Commentary.
Comm Ed – Is it?
RB – Ofcourse it fucking is. Look let me go through it again. We get a load of recognisable faces from existing comedy programmes to play my writing team. People who could indeed be real comedy writers themselves.
Comm Ed – Like who?
RB – I dunno, that ginger haired fellar with the big nose from the Orange adverts for example.
Comm Ed – Who? Oh him the fellar from Little Britain, I like him.
RB – Exactly. And er, I dunno, say the black fellar from that double act, what are they called?
Comm Ed – The Kumars at No 43?
RB – No, what were they called….Curtis and Mayfield or something.
Comm Ed – Oh you mean Curtis & Ishmael, I used to really like them. Which one?
RB – What do you mean?
Comm Ed – Curtis or Ishmael?
RB – I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. The fat one with the funny cap.
Comm Ed – I’m pretty sure that’s Ishmael. Think he’s a black Muslim. Ticks a few boxes for me.
RB – Yeah whatever and anyway, this team of writers and my producer are planning the format of the series with me and I’m pointing out to them how fucking formulaic and lazy it is. Every single round is a direct lift from all these other tedious celebrity panel quiz shows.
Comm Ed – Like the ones you always appear on you mean?
RB – Exactly! That’s the whole fucking point. I’m committing career suicide.
Comm Ed – But I like lazy formulaic comedy Rob, that’s my job. Why don’t you just do it straight?
RB – Do what straight?
Comm Ed – The quiz show, I could sell that to BBC2, it’s just up their street.
RB – I thought you were supposed to do all the challenging stuff on here because no fucker watches it.
Comm Ed – Well, to a degree Rob. I mean there’s challenging and there’s challenging. Now if you could give me something like Saxondale.
RB – Oh yes, I COULD give you something like Saxondale like a shot. I could do a Coogan and just stretch a one minute fucking sketch about a self-deluded wannabe rock star stuck in a mundane provincial rut out into a whole series which is itself the same joke as The Office and the Crème Brulee character from The League Of Gentlemen, I could do that tomorrow if you want.
Comm Ed – If you could love….just a little Partridge joke there, sorry Rob go on.
RB – Look, this is radical stuff I’m giving you here. I’m letting people know how phoney it all is, how it’s all scripted.
Comm Ed – They already know that Rob.
RB – Do they? I don’t think they do. That’s why I’ve got scenes where we rehearse the jokes with the team captains and then I’m discussing the guests each week with my booker and that allows me to do some great impressions – have you heard my Ronny Corbett? – and I bad mouth all the z-list nonentities and here’s the really funny bit, we actually get some of onto the show and I get to humiliate them further as they’re in make-up and then we cut and in and out of the quiz itself, which we play as though it’s real. It’s fucking genius. You’ll win awards for this, I’m guarantee it.
Comm Ed – Still sounds like Larry Sanders to me.
RB – Oh I fucking give up. What do you want from me exactly.
Comm Ed – Marion & Geoff.
RB – Fuck off.