Two reasons for this rant. The pisspoorness of this piece on panel shows and something an Assistant Comedy Commissioner said. Or was it a Comedy Assistant Commissioner? I forget. Are they meant to assist comedy in getting commissions, assist the commissioner of comedy or be a comedy version of an assistant to the commissioner? Hmmm, I just checked and it seems they’re all Executives or Editors or Executive Editors. Fuck it. Doesn’t matter.
The Independent article whines that panel shows are a bit shit because the same old folk appear on all of them. Guess what Fiona Sturges? You’ve completely underestimated the shit level. You’re complaining about the smell of the zombie clawing out your pancreas. Panel shows are fucking killing comedy. Or maybe killing fucking comedy. Killing comedy fucking? Fuck it. Doesn’t matter.
First up, panel shows are homogenising the channels. Yes you did read “homogenising.” And again.
An increasingly short list of really funny people are on any and all channels at any and all times. And they are funny people, despite what Fiona Sturges says. But this relentless panellisation means the idea that, say, Ch4 is tonally different to BBC2 or even BBC1 is as unbelievable as me missing a meal. I want my channels back. However, it’s not the programme makers’ fault. They make the best show they can with the best people, often resulting in genuinely good shows. And those best people need to take the cash when it’s waved. No, the fault lies with childish, safe, scaredy-cat commissioning.
And so we get to the crippling shittery spouted by the ExecuComEditor. In case you don’t know these people work for TV channels, essentially hiring other people to make shows they think the viewers for their channels would like to see. How this happens is complicated and never the same way twice, but basically they are ultimately responsible for what comedy hits our screens.
So, at a briefing where this particular ComedyExecutidor was telling a sweaty room full of potential comedy suppliers the types of shows their channels wanted, out slips the gem that they weren’t interested in sketch shows because they get their “quick comedy hits” from panel shows.
Well, fucking /golfclap.
Never mind that so many comedy writers are inspired by, learn from, get the chance to experiment on and, importantly, scratch a living from sketch shows.
Never mind that tomorrow’s comedy will therefore come from an increasingly small pool of experienced writers, leading to less successes leading to yet more cowardly commissioning.
Never mind that it shortens the on-screen life of the funniest folk by wringing them, and our patience, dry.
Most importantly, never mind that I love sketch shows like fat kids love cake-based sketch shows.
Panel shows are risk-light commissions and you know it.
But you just keep on avoiding those difficult decisions. Keep on ducking those deliciously painful judgements that lead to either disaster or triumph. Keep on plumping for more and more panel shows and you’ll be fine. Well fucking done. Do you wrap your desk legs in foam in case you bump a knee?
So Fiona Sturges you are wrong. A panel show is much better, but panel shows are much worse, than you ever went and thunk.