(Netflix) Back when I was a pre-teen, I had a casual friend who absolutely knew how to make me laugh. The jokes were puerile — again, I was a youth and he was slightly older — but he told them in such a rapid-fire way that within a few minutes I was doubled-over in laughter, absolutely rolling on the ground, covered in dirt.
Again, they weren’t good jokes, but they endlessly built up, which actually served to be more memorable in the long run. (One tries to forget that too much laughter literally inflicts pain — which causes a perverse feedback loop for me — but you don’t. Not really.)
Over the years, I’ve found that sort of comedy to be more of an enigma than anything else. THE JERK accomplished it, for sure — one of the greatest times of my life was seeing it at Los Angeles’ TCL and being tongue-tied meeting Carl Reiner. ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, well, the first two seasons at least. It’s more of a vaudevillian sense of humor — make ‘em laugh, make ‘em laugh, make ‘em laugh! (to quote SINGING IN THE RAIN) — but when that work is firing on all cylinders, it’s like nothing else. To be crass: it culminates to a mind-blowing comedic orgasm that you shakily walk away from.
And now we have CUNK ON EARTH, the latest from Charlie Brooker (BRASS EYE, and oh, a little dystopian show named BLACK MIRROR you may have heard of.) It’s basically ‘What if we had an insta-dumb Lucy Worsley navigating us through history?’ While the character has been around in Brooker’s WEEKLY WIPE and also featured in CUNK ON BRITAIN, this was my first exposure to her.
I’ll note: this is a very specific show. If you love the humor of Kate Beaton, if you love nerdy historical and literary comedy, if you’ve even entertained the idea of watching BLACKADDER, this show will come close to pleasurely killing you. The joke ratio is off of the fucking charts. Not a single word or glance or motion is wasted and, even better, it all builds up to character lore. It’s amazing — if you’re a nerd.
I had to cut myself off after three episodes, at least for the time being. I love to laugh, but I was laughing far too much. That said, I can’t think of a better way to endorse a series than ‘I watched it until it made my sides ache and then bleed.’ It’s a brilliant work, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Also, as someone with several prominent moles, I love how she rocks hers.