Last night we watched the 62nd Primetime Emmys on the telly (translation for Americans: television).
I have to admit I watched it for 2 main reasons:
- Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert (here presenting at the 2007 Emmys)
- Stephen Colbert & Jon Stewart (here in 2006)
There are certain programmes in our house we watch without fail. These programmes include The Simpsons, The Office (the American one), Leverage, Family Guy, The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
If you haven't caught the last two in the UK, you should.
The Daily Show is fronted by Jon Stewart with a team of 'Senior Media Correspondents' including our very own John Oliver (seen here going off on a tangent about owls on Mock the Week) and the wonderful John Hodgman (author of 'More Information Than You Require' and he's even been on QI).
We've watched The Daily Show for years, originally in the UK on More4 (and you can watch 'back issues' on 4oD here), but now here in States on Comedy Central.
Stephen Colbert started out as a correspondent on The Daily Show but the character he plays is so large, it deserved a show of it's own, The Colbert Report. Again we started watching The Colbert Report in UK, it used to be on FX, but it was hidden away after midnight so it wasn't a great surprise when FX dropped it because of viewing figures...no one knew it was there!
The show does have a website with video clips and even full episodes, but unfortunately it will discover your UK ip (if you're in the UK) and say you can't watch them. (Pssst. Obviously you didn't hear this from me but I did definitely not never tell you about a VPN service from My Expat Network that you pay a small monthly fee to and then you can dial into an American ip....nope I would never tell anyone about that).
The Colbert Report is the closest thing I've ever seen the Americans do to the sadly long-gone The Day Today, and the on-screen character Colbert plays is the nearest thing to Chris Morris playing a version of Jeremy Paxman.
Colbert plays a brilliantly unflinching Conservative news host/pundit with no holds barred (and if you ever want to see him at his unflinching best, you HAVE to watch his speech, with George W Bush sitting just 2 seats away from him, at the White House Correspondents' Dinner...what were they thinking booking him to speak, did they think he'd play nice?! I love the nervous laughter around the room as he basically attacks everyone present. It's just genius: "people say this Administration is just re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titantic. For a start, that's a terrible metaphor. This Administration is not sinking. This Administration is soaring. If anything they're re-arranging the deck chairs on the Hindenberg").
Both of these shows are news satire at its best, the stuff we used to do in the UK to perfection (That Was The Week That Was, Not The Nine O'Clock News, Spitting Image, The Day Today, Bremner, Bird and Fortune etc).
And it's not as if the UK is putting up much of a defence, yes Radio 4 has the fantastic News Quiz and The Now Show....but what's there of worth on the telly? Have I Got News For You seems well past it's sell-by date (and that is a true shame, because it did use to be brilliant) and Mock The Week though very funny, is more a display of the various comedians wit than a commentary on what's happening in the world.
And what is it anyway that makes TV execs think that you can only do satire in a quiz show format? Where have all the cutting edge satirical sketch shows gone? Surely I can't be the only person who misses them?
The only thing that saves the day for the UK is Charlie Brooker's Newswipe, but where do the BBC choose to put that? BBC Four...obviously thinking that only the intellectual artsy crowd would like (or understand?) it, it couldn't possibly be put into primetime mainstream telly programming....but why not? It's been done before and the masses didn't revolt.
Deep breath. Rant over.
Anyway, I wish British tv execs would have the guts to search out some talented writers and performers and put Britain back on top of the world's satire mountain, because they're doing it here in the USA and from viewing figures and awards, it's proving that there's still a place for it.
(The Daily Show won the Emmy for Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series for the EIGHTH YEAR RUNNING last night, and the younger sibling The Colbert Report won it's 2nd Emmy for Outstanding Writing For A Variety, Music or Comedy Series. Both shows have also won the prestigious Peabody Awards for Excellence in Broadcasting in recent years).
So come on Britain, make us proud! Or at least, give us a laugh by ridiculing the folly in the world.
PS. If I have missed any new great satirical shows on British telly, please let me know. I would love to be proven wrong on this one...the comment box is just there below (or if it isn't visible just hit the 'comments' link). Let me know.