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Mitchell & Webb triumphant: where now, fellas?
on 7 December 2009
Ok, before I start I'll warn you -- this is a dry and dusty critique! Sometimes, it's a useful thing.
This fourth radio series from Mitchell & Webb finds our heroes well and truly ensconced in the public's comic consciousness. Between Webb's film appearances, Mitchell's game panel supremo status, the radio and television versions of their sketch shows and oh, let's not forget that show they do on Channel 4 -- you know the one I mean -- they're second only to John Barrowman, perhaps, in the broadcasting ubiquity stakes. But isn't it said that familiarity breeds contempt?
Well, I'm pleased to say that Mitchell & Webb's fourth radio series is every bit as funny as the preceding three. Which is to say that five out of seven sketches hits the funny bone. But I don't mean that as a direct criticism -- it's the nature of sketch-based comedy shows to be a mixed bag, and the trick of it is simply to maintain a higher ratio of hits than misses and keep things varied and speedy: the chaps fulfil this consistently.
There are many stand-out sketches in this run, many of which have been touched on by other reviewers, with the recurring sketches in particular having a cumulative brilliance, especially when the series is listened to in one or two sittings: the Stargate sketches and the Old Ladies Job Interviews are worth mentioning here.
In fact, many of their comedy ideas are based on a simple, Blackadderish principle: take something extraordinary and place it within the mundane, or vice versa. I mention this because you will notice A LOT of this across the series. So, it turns out that having a wooden boy for a son is not only a bit creepy, but downright irritating if you're trying to impress a girl on a date, people who work near an interdimensional portal would indeed nip through it for a sneaky fag break and celebrities would undergo Dr Moreau-meets-Frankenstein-style surgery just to make it big on a reality game show. Actually that last one's not so implausible...
So, what I'm trying to say in a roundabout way is: if you've never heard any Mitchell & Webb (where've you been?!) this is an excellent and roaringly funny point to start. If you know their schtick well...well, you too will enjoy this as you did the previous others. If you don't like `em, don't even go here -- things haven't changed for you!