A Short History of Everything Else is essentially a retroactive, âpast affairsâ? panel show. Fronted by the ever familiar face of Griff Rhys Jones, we and the panellists are shown a series of archive footage dating way back in time to the… mid 1980’s. Nostalgia is the key word here. In essence the reason it’s a ‘Short History’ is because it concentrates on just a couple of decades, as such we’re shown clips of cabbage patch kid mania rather then coverage of the Yalta conference. That’s not a massive problem, but we’re just saying..
Anyway eschewing older footage is probably the right move, and indeed, the focus on popular culture gives the panellists more familiar fodder for comedy, which is ultimately the driving force of the programme. Joining Griff as permanent captains is quiz show veteran Marcus Brigstocke, as well as the comedian Charlie Baker. Both work well in their roles, Brigstocke is reliable as ever, and Baker proves himself to be adept at the format, yet it’s obvious that most jokes have been set up well in advance and as such we see Jones deliberately introducing random topics to enable inconsistent punchlines.
Baker is an interesting choice. He’s done the rounds on comedy quiz shows and suchlike before, but I doubt he’d be as familiar to an audience as say, Ross Noble. The last time I saw Baker was on âRichard Bacon’s beer and pizza clubâ?, and before that, as a talking head on one of those âtop 100 best toys/celebrity moments of the 1980/90’sâ? shows that Channel 4 was churning out up until recently. Either way, you feel that he’s very much a B-list comedian.
If A Short History takes its skeleton from Have I got News for You (panel format, news worthy events), then the meat is taken from these recap shows mentioned above. It’s taken the nostalgic, retrospective derived comedy, and shaped it into the panel show format.
This is not to say that A Short History is a bad programme. It’s not quite as good as the âBig Threeâ? of quiz âbanterâ? – Have I got News for You, QI, and Never Mind the Buzzcocks, but it’s still early days. Brigstocke and Baker have yet to establish a comedic rapport as team captains, but this does take time. Hopefully they’ll be able to pull it off before Channel 4 sends it to Comedy Gulag (Dave), but until then, it’s a fun addition to the Wednesday night timeslots.