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.