Last night saw the premiere of Show Me The Funny, an intriguing new ITV “reality” show, which can best be described as The Apprentice for stand-up comedians. Every week a gaggle of comics (of varying ages and experience) are taken to a new location and set a series of wacky tasks, which will hopefully inspire them as they write five minutes of freshly-minted material, to perform in front of a select audience and a panel of judges. For instance, this week they were in Liverpool, running around the streets trying to find women named “Michelle” (in honour of the Beatles song), and temping at a famous hair salon, in order to better understand the all-female crowd they’d be attempting to entertain. Each week the judges then eliminate the poorest performer, until one lucky duck is awarded “the ultimate prize in British comedy”: £100,000, a multi-date UK tour, and their very own DVD at Christmas!
According to the narration, the nation-wide ratio of male to female comics is roughly 10 to 1, so I guess we should be grateful that the programme-makers were conscientious enough to select two women to compete here against eight men… although that ratio still isn’t ideal, is it? On the other hand, one of the three judges is veteran comedy actress-turned-critic Kate Copstick. Although she confessed that most comedians probably think she’s a “bitch”, I thought she came off pretty well here… tough, but fair… not just being nasty for the sake of it. I didn’t actually recognise her myself, but according to Wikipedia she appeared in such fondly remembered Saturday morning shows as No. 73 and On the Waterfront. Good times!
This episode’s star performer was ex-model Ellie Taylor, who’s so new to the scene, she hasn’t even had a paying gig yet! Bless. As one of two competitors chosen for special praise by the judges, her entire performance has been posted on the official site… and it’s interesting to note that even the “winners” were still dropping a few dud gags here and there. Ah, the magic of editing! Of course, it wasn’t necessarily a sure-thing that the comediennes would waltz it in front of an all-female audience, because… well, as Copstick admitted, when she saw Taylor strutting up to the stage, looking all tall and pretty and girly, she felt the bile rising up… but thankfully Taylor had the jokes to justify her place in the competition, and Copstick even went so far as to call her “fantastic” to her face. So there. Sadly, we didn’t get to see much of Taylor’s task-partner, Tiffany Stevenson, beyond a slight stumble she had on her way to the microphone, before introducing herself. Apparently she’s been gigging for five years now, and even co-hosts a comedy night called “Old Rope”, at The Phoenix in that London. She seems pretty cool from the reviews of her previous shows I’ve skimmed, and she’s done a bit of telly (including an episode of The Office (UK)), so hopefully we’ll get to hear a lot more from her in future episodes.
Overall, it was a slightly choppy viewing experience, and you didn’t really get to see enough of the actual performances on screen, but I assume that will settle down once they’ve thinned the herd out a little. Next week, they’ll be performing for (and training with) soldiers on an army base! Fun?