It’s been proven that there are at least seventeen reality elimination competitions on British television at any one time and with The Apprentice coming to a rather unsatisfying climax last night, Show Me The Funny is the latest talent hunt to grace our schedules.
The premise is a simple one: ITV have collected ten burgeoning stand-up comics and will be whittling them down over the next few months before crowning the winner, handing them a DVD contract and a suitcase of cash. As you can imagine, some of the hopefuls are quite funny, but others are less amusing than a self-assessment tax return. The worst will have you cringing your face off, but they should be picked off rather easily by the guest judges.
Jason Manford hosts the whole shebang, but while the show has some fine attributes, the format itself is pretty flawed. The idea that each episode will be based around a specific city or environment (future gig destinations will include hospitals and army barracks..) is a strange one, as are the random tasks given out in the first half of the programme. One pair of contestants is sent to arrange a blind date for two locals, although the reason for this unclear. They certainly don’t use the incident for material.. Never mind.
Tonight’s opening episode is set in Liverpool, which of course leads to a plethora of tiresome scouser jokes, vague testimonials about how unique Liverpool’s inhabitants are and how the city has a great affinity with comedy. One person who seems to have no affinity with comedy is brash Londoner Prince Abdi, which is quite tragic because he’s given up his job as a teacher to chase his dream of being a professional stand-up. Not only is he tangibly unfunny (his act consisted of nothing but a shocking scouse accent..) but his crapness is such that it’s difficult to imagine him being much of a teacher either. Abdi stayed in the competition at the expense of Ignacio Lopez, who misjudged the tone of his gig to a bunch of Liverpool ladies horrifically. He may have been the first to go but at least he acted with a humility afterwards. “What they said was right,” he explained. “It was a bad show..”
This week’s judges Alan Davies and Jimmy Tarbuck realised they were in the presence of a no-hoper but went easy on the poor bloke, explaining that they knew all too well the pains of working the circuit and building a decent act. However the show’s answer to Simon Cowell (these characters are part of the reality furniture now..) comedy critic and stand-up kingmaker Kate Copstick, lays into the pair like someone trying to make a name for herself. Will this be a hit? Probably..