Kookyville: the day television died

There’s a wonderful film called Wings of Fame in which famous dead people are depicted as guests at a grand old hotel. The more enduring a person’s fame on earth, the bigger and more luxurious their room. While those with dwindling fame, perhaps fading in the memory and no longer considered relevant, are constantly downgraded to smaller, pokier rooms until only the “mists of oblivion” await. “More of us are afraid of oblivion than of death,” explains one resident.

When I think about that beautiful hotel, filled with the likes of Einstein and Hemingway, and even Baader-Meinhof terrorists, still caught up in the romanticism of violent revolution, the mental image is gatecrashed by a group of Z-List ‘scripted reality’ idiots charging through the marble-floored lobby, dragging leopard print luggage behind them.

To some extent, the fantasy is a comforting one: they’re all dead. Furthermore, they would probably make a beeline for ‘oblivion’, keen to be seen at what they assume is the afterlife’s premier club night. On the downside, however, the commotion in the lobby has left Marilyn Monroe’s William Travilla dress with an unsightly orange smear of fake tan. I fucking hate these people. The TOWIE people, that is. (The living and the imaginary dead ones.)

Unfortunately, the TOWIE phenomenon appears to have been the inspiration for possibly the most appalling, detestable piece of television I have ever seen: Channel 4’s Kookyville – “a comedy sketch show with a difference”. The most obvious difference being the complete absence of any comedy.

Scheduled straight after Peep Show (following a triumphant return for its eighth series), Kookyville felt like something of an ambush. Where did it come from? Why did it happen? Who made it possible? I had so many questions.

Before the programme began, we were reminded that Fosters sponsors original comedy on 4. Kookyville then opened with a Little Britain-style title sequence, before introducing the David Brent character, the Catherine Tate ‘Nan’ character and the Del Boy and Rodney characters (which also had a vague whiff of Smith and Jones in their ‘head-to-head’ sketches), which was all catastrophically packaged in a TOWIE scripted reality format.

The ‘sketches’ themselves (featuring people who “are not actors or comedians, and there’s no script. They’re just real funny people”) were just a series of inane and very obviously scripted conversations, which makes the dialogue in TOWIE sound like it’s penned by Aaron Sorkin.

So what were the highlights of Kookyville? Well, there weren’t any. But here are some of the most inexcusably awful and offensive bits:

Remember the Catherine Tate ‘Nan’ character I mentioned? Well, the real life version they’ve found – for the purposes of making Kookyville just that little bit more unwatchable – is a woman called Ronnie.

In her first ‘sketch’, Ronnie is sat on a bench chatting to her German friend. “You taught me everything I know. All the good English,” says her mild-mannered companion. “Yeah! Fuck, cunt, wanker and bastard,” replies Ronnie, as she delivers the achingly predictable punchline from the depths of her tar-ravaged lungs.

Ronnie also pops up in the second part of the programme. There’s this brilliant bit, yeah, where she’s driving along a pavement in a motorised cart, then she suddenly stops and aggressively tells an imaginary person off-camera to fuck off. But that’s just a bit of filler! That’s not even the main joke! The main Ronnie ‘sketch’ in the second part of the programme sees her visiting a Chinese restaurant with her two twentysomething grandchildren. She then embarks on a gut-wrenchingly descriptive tale about how some prawn balls once gave her the shits.

Just think about all the great comedy that Channel 4 has commissioned and broadcast over the years. No, go on, just think about that for a few minutes to ensure that that last paragraph is purged from your mind forever.

Other delights from Kookyville included a mother and daughter (Annierose and Suzanne) spotting a dwarf walk into the salad bar where they’re having lunch (presumably after the director had yelled “OK, Dwarf enter stage right!”), which subsequently prompts a conversation about how Annierose “would quite like a dwarf” because they could provide “all the best qualities of a baby, but he could go to the toilet himself.” Between that and the chucklesome story two hoteliers tell about a guest with Thalidomide short arms falling out of a window (complete with unnecessary munchkin-style voice impersonation), it’s difficult to know which sketch the Official Broadcaster of the London 2012 Paralympic Games wanted me to find most funny.

We also had two call-centre girls called Babs and Cabs (who were later joined by their “bezzie bizzle Shabs”) who’d taken the day off work to visit a farm. The unlikely location of their excursion subsequently led to weighty debates about whether animals eat meat, given that they are meat, and also saw them constantly pronounce “ewe” as “ewie”. Yet again, television presents gross stupidity as entertainment and something to celebrate rather than despise.

Kookyville also introduced us to Afsad, an Asian David Brent figure presiding over a car sales “dynasty”. His shtick seemed to involve introducing his employees to camera and then either insulting them or embarrassing them. “This is a guy who’s had cameras up his ass!” Asfad excitedly announces at one point. The employee then laughs politely, before confirming that he’d once had an exploratory procedure to determine whether or not he had Crohn’s disease. Honestly, the giggles!

But what will next week hold? Maybe Babs, Cabs and Shabs could take another day off work and visit the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. And maybe Ronnie could go for an Indian meal and explain to the waiter, in excruciating detail, about the time a prawn bhuna once made her vomit over a child.

Or maybe it could all just stop. But having said that, the ‘comedy’ never really started.

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12 Comments

Filed under Celebrity Culture, Rant, Television

12 responses to “Kookyville: the day television died

  1. JoeyEdwards

    Also it says “These people are not actors or comedians”…that’s odd. Because when i applied for the show last year they were looking for “Actors and Comedians”. And i didn’t get through because you had to have already worked for the channel before aswell. Kinda glad i didn’t make it.

    • andyt

      Judging by that first episode, it looks like their search for “actors and comedians” ultimately proved fruitless. You’re right – you had a lucky escape!

  2. Well done for making it through this tripe. It would be a terrible YouTube only series, let alone one airing on prime time!

  3. I’m so glad I found your blog! I Googled Kookyville is just stupid, and found it. Very glad as half way through the first half of watching this inane crap, I began worrying that I’d had a sense of humour failure, and wanted to see if it was just me who thought this was ridiculous, stupid, and not even remotely funny!? Glad to see there’s still other sane humans out there, and I’m not alone! I’d rather watch TOWIE or Made in Chelsea, than watch this again, and that’s saying something as I’d rather have colonic irrigation than watch either of those shows!!

    • andyt

      Hi Kazsta,

      I’m glad my blog has reassured you that you haven’t suffered a sense of humour failure! If it turned out that everyone thought Kookyville was absolutely hilarious (with people standing around water coolers the next day saying that it was “genius”) I think I would’ve lost faith in humanity. I can’t tell you how relieved I am that that didn’t happen!

  4. Bazinga

    Great review/rant. I think you’d have to have a lobotomy to find anything remotely smile-worthy about this appalling excuse for prime-time.
    The only reason we watched is was to see Afs-hole as my boyfriend used to work for him. He really is like that. In fact, he’s worse. The sad thing is, he obviously thinks he’s being hilarious.

    I had to turn it off when the idiot-twins started talking about ‘meat’ and ‘flesh’. How can people really be that frigging stupid?! Not only deep it sadden and appall me, it offended me. The bit when they mother and daughter talk about taking the dwarf home and treating him like a child was abhorrent.
    so very glad I found this. As with the lady above, I googled (slightly less nice ‘What the the fuck is Kookyville’) and found an abundance of abuse for the show. The venom and hatred and dripping sarcasm is hilarious!!

    Thanks – restored my faith that there ARE intelligent people out there.

    • andyt

      Thanks Bazinga. I’m genuinely thrilled that my blog was in the mix of results for your “what the fuck is Kookyville” search! And I’m relieved that I wasn’t alone in absolutely hating it. Although, a quick read of some of the tweets using the #kookyville hashtag suggested that it was bombing heavily. Good thing, too.

  5. Klare Tootell

    I hadn’t even heard of this till I read your blog so just went to find a few clips and……good grief…..I don’t even know where to begin. Here we are again (with the Olympics not even cold) thrusting idiocy into the limelight and celebrating it as ‘hilarious’ entertainment. I’m not easily offended as you know but the thalidomide ‘joke’ was vile and hammered home far too much…”yes, we get it…short arms..and it’s STILL not funny”. I do hope this show dies a death as it’s soul-destroying pap.

    • andyt

      Hi Sis,
      I knew you’d hate it. Aside from the abhorrent dwarf and thalidomide ‘jokes’ there was also the laboured “Peedo” gag, courtesy of Drew and Wicksey. Unfortunately, life had a dark way of beating them to it.

  6. ThatOne

    Hey. I was actually on this show, and i HATED it. Compared to what we were told and what we filmed, the stuff aired was awful. I was so angry after watching it, knowing i was in something that casually threw around racism and jokes about the disabled.

    • andyt

      Thanks so much for commenting. I’m intrigued to know what the production company told all the contributors before filming started. The whole thing was so contrived, it’s difficult to see how anyone could have been misled. But it’s good to know that you hated it, too!

      On Kookyville’s 4OD page a couple of months ago, a Channel 4 ‘Community Producer’ popped up in the comment stream with the encouraging news: “There is no information we can provide for future episodes/programmes of Kookyville”. Less encouraging was the flurry of activity following that announcement from people demanding to know when it would return. Never, one would hope.

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