Join 3,436 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Ricky Gervais And Comedy Radio
May 4, 2003 10:33 PM   Subscribe

The Funniest Brits Since Monty Python, The Fast Show And The League Of Gentlemen are definitely Ricky Gervais* and Stephen Merchant whose giggly, gloriously silly and shockingly juvenile improvised radio antics can be heard every Saturday on xfm. Radio is so often overlooked and underestimated as a vehicle for comedy that it hurts. This is probably more so in America than in the UK. [Don't know about Canada or Australia, although they produce so many excellent comedians.] Sooooo... What's your idea of radio comedy gold?
*Gervais, in case you've never to have heard of him, is the star of the magnificent The Office, recently aired on cable, along with Ali G, and returning to America in a bastardized version; already featured on MetaFilter.
posted by MiguelCardoso (34 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Well, at the risk of stating the obvious (and the sadly long ago) the first thing that comes to mind is the sublime Goon Show. I'd be happy to hear about more contemporary radio comedy -- the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy made a fantastic radio program, far superior to the TV version. And stoners used to swear by the Firesign Theatre (flash), as I recall.

"I'm walking backwards for Christmas"
posted by jokeefe at 10:47 PM on May 4, 2003


I've been lurking around here for ages - finally time to speak up.
So its not comedy per se but after seeing Ira Glass speak last week I have a renewed faith that all is not bad in American radio.
In the same week I saw David Sedaris do a reading - and while I find reading his essays an exercise in bladder control - hearing him deliver them live or over the airwaves is shear genius.
That said, count me also as someone waiting desperately for the second season of the office to get stateside. Brilliant.
posted by Wolfie at 11:29 PM on May 4, 2003


These days I split my online-radio (the only radio I can get in English other than Armed Forces Radio (yikes)) time between lectures on various branches arcane lore (many of which were culled from recent threads here), This American Life archives, the superb Joe Frank and comedy radio.

I didn't know about xmradio. Thanks, Miguel.

Links to any other spoken word goodness, comedy or otherwise, would be much appreciated.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:39 PM on May 4, 2003


"Unlike "live" amazing XM Radio, these samples repeat frequently and do not accurately represent the stellar audio quality you'll hear using XM Radio equipment."

Err, never mind. I didn't realize it was a pay service.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:45 PM on May 4, 2003


Just so there's no confusion, the UK station in the main links, XFM radio, and the links to it)are free. The U.S. XM Radio mentioned by Stav (linked under "Comedy") only offers samples but isn't germane anyway.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:54 PM on May 4, 2003


Doh. Sorry, Miguel : my bad. Didn't notice the xm/xfm difference there.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:57 PM on May 4, 2003


This American Life is indeed wonderful, and hearing Ira Glass speak in person (a couple of years ago, in Raleigh, NC) was quite a treat and a very entertaining evening.

What's your idea of radio comedy gold?

Bob and Ray.

Also, Stan Freberg.
posted by Vidiot at 12:09 AM on May 5, 2003


I...must say....though...thatIcansometimes...get...abitirritatedby...Ira...Glass's...odd radio...delivery.
posted by Vidiot at 12:14 AM on May 5, 2003


I think that's a public radio thing, vidiot. They all seem to do it, to one degree or another. The guy (whose name escapes me) that sometimes replaces Christopher Lydon as the host on The Connection does it too, bigtime.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:25 AM on May 5, 2003


Currently doubling my incontinence, Mark and Lard on Radio 1. Their latest feature, 'Folklore and Tradition', seems to have a direct connection to the surrealist whimsy of the Goons, cited above. ('Browning the Stone Rose Man', for example). My personal fave, 'American Sports Network'. Warning - all links RA, with LOUD 5 second intro).
posted by punilux at 1:59 AM on May 5, 2003


So what was your level of incontinence before, punilux?

Never mind, I don't think I want to know.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:05 AM on May 5, 2003


A few more recommendations

Phoenix Nights

Marion & Geoff

Chris Morris
posted by dodgygeezer at 3:24 AM on May 5, 2003


If you know him from television, particularly the Daz adverts, you may think poorly of Danny Baker. Don't be put off, he's a radio genius. His breakfast show on five live was the best radio ever. He is back but only on local London radio - samples here and a live stream - but sadly nothing on the BBC radio player.

(He's also one of the amazingly talented NME crowd of the late '70s who taught me all I know)
posted by grahamwell at 3:36 AM on May 5, 2003


He's also one of the amazingly talented NME crowd of the late '70s who taught me all I know

Indeed, grahamwell! Julie Burchill, Paul Morley, Ian Penman, Danny Baker, Paolo Hewitt - those were my favourites. I must be forgetting one or two others. Baker was hilarious - and he knew his music. Thanks for the pointer!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:04 AM on May 5, 2003


Hancock. (I've got a bio right here on the bookshelf.)
Take It from Here.
'Round the Horne.
The Navy Lark.

/pre-TV generation
posted by emf at 5:08 AM on May 5, 2003


Difficult to beat I'm sorry, i haven't a clue from BBC radio 4. Sadly, it's off the air at the moment - but it can't be beaten for filthy puns, ludicrous pseudo-panel games and the game-with-no-rules-nor-point
"Mornington Crescent"
, named after a tube station in london that seemed only ever open between 8pm and 8.30pm every second wednesday.
posted by Pericles at 5:31 AM on May 5, 2003


I'm sorry, I haven't a clue.
posted by Hogshead at 5:32 AM on May 5, 2003


.. much better guide to the rules of Mornington Crescent. it's really really funny. Err.. well, I guess you had to be there. Err... I'll get my coat, shall I?
posted by Pericles at 5:35 AM on May 5, 2003


" Radio is so often overlooked and underestimated as a vehicle for comedy that it hurts."

BBC Radio 7... "seven hours of comedy, seven days a week."
posted by Blue Stone at 5:53 AM on May 5, 2003


What's your idea of radio comedy gold?

"More To Lose"
posted by liam at 6:16 AM on May 5, 2003


More Danny Baker including a dedicated media player which just plays Danny (does rather a good job). Now that's having a fan base.

Ian Penman heh (when I read the name I instinctively ducked to avoid the Melody Maker arcing across the room to shouts of "pseud!" from the no-lives in the corner) - Wikpedia would like your input. Honorable mention for Nick Logan, Charles Shaar Murray, Nick Kent and Adrian Thrills. I have never before or since been so influenced by a piece of paper.
posted by grahamwell at 6:58 AM on May 5, 2003


I can't make the case for it as "Comedy Gold" (it's hit-or-miss, but when it hits, it's excellent), but I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again needs mentioning if only for the personnel involved. In addition to the irrepressible Bill Oddie and Tim Brooke-Taylor, the show featured a young John Cleese and anticipated some of the comic devices Monty Python would use (not to say, overuse).

I can't find a link to actual transcripts, so I'll try to type in this exchange in from memory. First the host goes on about hovercrafts by making "a simple analogy: When you throw a stone into a bucket of water, the ripples spread outward; or, to put it another way, when you throw a hovercraft into a bucket of water, the ripples spread outward; or, to put it another way, inward." Then there's a guest (Cleese) who's an expert on the language of the three-toed sloth...

Host: How would a three-toed sloth say, "Good Evening?"
Cleese: It would say "Good Evening."
H: Erm, but does a three-toed sloth ever say "Good Evening?"
C: No, they don't, they're dumb. They just walk right in and eat your slippers.
H: This lack of communication must be quite a problem for the sloths, I mean, if I may make a simple analogy, when you throw a stone into a bucket of water, the ripples spread outward.
C: Right, whereas when you throw a stone into a bucket of three-toed sloths, you don't get any ripples at all, they just lie there shouting, "Please stop it."
H: I thought you said they were dumb.
C: Yes, but they're not that dumb.
posted by soyjoy at 7:55 AM on May 5, 2003


Ian Penman heh (when I read the name I instinctively ducked to avoid the Melody Maker arcing across the room to shouts of "pseud!" from the no-lives in the corner) - Wikpedia would like your input.

Ha ha ha! Done, Graham! Not easy, wikypedianism!

Pursuant [crowd roars] to Pericles's plug above, here are some hilarious extracts from "I'm Sorry, I haven't a clue."

Judging by this thread, I wish I could rewrite my initial post to read "Radio comedy is not overlooked or overrated". :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:27 AM on May 5, 2003


Kinder, gentler radio comedy from the CBC with Stuart MacLean's Vinyl Cafe. A mix of music and anecdote, not nearly as surreal as some of the British Comedy already mentioned, but still pull-your-car-over-to-the-side-of-the-road funny.
posted by jokeefe at 9:02 AM on May 5, 2003


I live in [any large US metropolitan area], and we have the two funniest guys on every morning on Hot97FM. They have this show, called "The Morning Zoo", and one of them is just crazy, and the other one is a total animal. They're always totally hyper, and they use a ton of funny sound clips (but only ones that you can totally recognize in a split second). Lots of really funny fart jokes.

And then you can tune to Hot106.9, and they have--I swear to God--like the exact same two guys, except that they've got different names, and their show is called "The Morning Drivetime Zoo".

And then you can go to any other friggin' city in the entire United States of friggin' America, and they have THE EXACT SAME TWO F@#KIN' GUYS! On EVERY friggin' channel! Using the SAME g@&$*mn soundbites and lame-ass fart jokes!

Damn. Thank god for NPR and the Internet.
posted by LairBob at 9:09 AM on May 5, 2003


Over two dozen comments and nobody's mentioned Firesign Theatre? BritFilter!

–George Tirebiter
posted by languagehat at 9:57 AM on May 5, 2003


"Gervais, in case you've never to have heard of him, is the star of the magnificent The Office, recently aired on cable... and returning to America in a bastardized version"

Apart from two commercial breaks (because we don't pay license fees over here) I was under the impression The Office ran uncut on BBCA. They put it in a 40 minute timeslot...

I've heard whispers that The Burkiss Way was the funniest thing ever, but have been unable to find recordings. Transcripts I've seen have been good, but that's really not the same is it?

Languagehat: You may be George Tirebiter, but I am the president's man. I like what the president likes.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:25 PM on May 5, 2003


Over two dozen comments and nobody's mentioned Firesign Theatre?

You mean, nobody's mentioned it again? How many times is necessary per dozen comments?
posted by soyjoy at 12:39 PM on May 5, 2003


D'oh! I mean, uh, that wasn't me, that was that damn George Tirebiter using my login again! Ooh, such a zetz I'm gonna give him...
posted by languagehat at 12:58 PM on May 5, 2003


Miguel starts a thread on RADIO COMEDY? Am I late for this party, or what?

Must mention Harry Shearer and his current radio show AND his history with The Credibility Gap. Also the "comedy game show" Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, one of whose regular wits does a blog with more humorous content than mine.

And I must clarify that "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" WAS a radio show BEFORE it was a TV show.

And, HEY! Doesn't April Winchell count for something? She's been one of the few FUNNY highlights on local Los Angeles radio for years, ever since we lost Stephanie Miller to her various ill-fated TV shows. Historically, big markets like L.A. have had quite a few seriously funny radio comics disguised as DJs, Newsreaders or Talk Show hosts, but that species is beyond endangered these days. I've known a few and been privileged to work for a couple, and I've told some tales in past MeFi threads, but not right now.
posted by wendell at 1:04 PM on May 5, 2003


Heh, I always thought Rush Limbaugh was kind of a joke. . .oh, oops, never mind.

.: now ducking for cover :.
posted by SentientAI at 1:34 PM on May 5, 2003


Can't believe no-ones mentioned the classic BBC radio sketch show
Round the Horne.

UK comedy sites worth perusing:
...some of the corpses are amusing
NOT BBC
Cook'd and Bomb'd
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:00 PM on May 5, 2003


Miguel - don't forget Nick Kent and Charles Shaar Murray.
posted by Joeforking at 5:06 PM on May 5, 2003


Then there's Car Talk on NPR (no britfilter here). It's just what it says, talk about cars; but it's a long urbane chuckle every week.
posted by grahamwell at 8:19 AM on May 6, 2003


« Older Half-Life meets Matisse in a virtual reconstructio...  |  ''Yes, I flew it!'' Bush shout... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments