4Funnies – Dr Brown: Review

C4, Friday 23rd November, 11.05pm

Channel 4 looks to some lesser known comic talent in their new four-part series 4Funnies (formally Comedy Showcase).

In Dr. Brown, the first episode, classically trained clown and mime artist Phil Burgers (awesome name by the way), and director Andrew Gaynord (also a brilliant name), try to make us laugh through 25 minutes of sketches and surreal silliness.

25 minutes: I laughed twice. If we are to do the math (yes I am a geek) then that adds up to about 15 seconds of laughter which in total is about 1% of laughter out of the entire 25 minutes. That’s not good maths.

The show contains a mishmash of different sketches making use of eccentric characters in ordinary situations with some intensely surreal piano-violin music thrown in. As I watched it was fun to name each weird character Burgers played: for example there was skater dude Burger; crying Burger; angry bacon Burger; and foreign naked hypnotising Burger. But that is where the fun ended – I really just didn’t get it and just didn’t find it funny.

However, in order to be balanced and not one-sided I will tell you the bits I did find funny:

Funny moment number one involved a Burger, a toilet, and a very simple well-timed joke featuring toilet paper. Well, we British love a bit of toilet humour don’t we.

Funny moment number two (number two – lol) involved an athletically dressed Crying Burger jogging hysterically through the streets and sobbing whilst downing protein powder and the like. Not entirely sure why this was funny but I couldn’t help laughing at the silly repetitiveness of it all.

The weird thing is I felt that Burgers was actually quite good. The sketches weren’t funny but I found myself at least wanting to laugh at Burger and his eccentric intensity. His Dr. Brown creation worked so well on stage it won him the Edinburgh Comedy Award this year: his physical skills make him perfect for live performances so I’d be intrigued to see the difference that it would make.

All in all I’ll give Dr. Brown points for being unusual and innovative, but if you are an episode in a series called 4Funnies, you’ll have to make me laugh more than just twice in order to faithfully do what it says on the tin.