TV review: Comedians need to stand up for edgier material – Independent.ie

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Dylan Moran gets stuck in a situation comedy that is frankly not that interesting, while RTÉ’s new sketch show is promising but plays it safe
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Dylan Moran and Morgana Robinson in Stuck. Photo by Chris Barr
Comedian Emma Doran. Photo by Frank McGrath
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Ann Marie Hourihane

It’s difficult to write about comedy, and a lot of what is written about comedy is rubbish. For example, it is accurate to say that Dylan Moran is one of the most talented stand-up comedians in the world. But that sounds like a press cliché from a poster advertising one of his many international tours.
Yet it is true — Dylan Moran alone on stage is a genius at work. Like many stand-ups, he is also a fine actor, as anyone who saw Black Books can tell you. He took situation comedy and ate it.
But now it looks like situation comedy, in the shape of his new series, Stuck (Thursdays, BBC2), might have eaten him. Stuck is not a great title for a situation comedy, and frankly it’s not a great situation either. Moran plays Dan, who is kind of the usual Dylan Moran — a tousled loser who is not fooled by the wicked ways of capitalism. Dan is living with his much younger girlfriend, Carla (Morgana Robinson), in a place that is probably London and is definitely near despair.
Dan’s brother is a millionaire (we never see him) and his best friend is a GP who is fantastically good at poker — and by far the most interesting character. Carla, on the other hand, works for some crazed psychologists in the woo-woo world of personal development. The crazed psychologists are pretty rich too. Then Dan loses his job in advertising. That’s about it.
Stuck comes to us in five 15-minute episodes, and that format needs a really strong story and a lot of vivid characters. Stuck has neither. The thing is that, as the camera and whole series falls increasingly in love with Carla — it feels as if she is getting more and more screen time — the uncomfortable idea emerges that, although she is younger and sexier than Dan, she is not any more interesting than he is. That’s bad news. I watched the whole series and it doesn’t improve.
I didn’t watch the whole series of No Worries If Not! (Thursdays, RTÉ2), RTÉ’s latest sketch show. I say “latest” but there haven’t been an awful lot of RTÉ sketch shows over the past 40 years. Those that have appeared have been wiped from our screens almost as soon as they have arrived. I hope this doesn’t happen to No Worries If Not! because we need a sketch show, and sketch shows need time to bed in.
However, this review is based on just the first episode for No Worries If Not! because that was all that was available.
No Worries If Not! (what is it with bad titles this week?) uses five Irish comedians who have appeared on social media, some for quite a few years. And the fact of the matter is that they are much funnier on social media (yeah, I looked) than they are on this first episode of the new series. They’re bright people; I wonder how they feel about that.
There are some great ideas here: the robot presenter of the Late Late, for example. The advertisement featuring the satisfied customer of the health insurance company, in which the graphics were pretty damn funny. And the siblings Francis and Francis who have returned home to Rathgael because they were simply too creative for Dublin.
But the material was remarkably conservative. Satirising the news is fine — indeed, it is compulsory — but making the sketch all about a whopper sesh in Mick’s cousin’s gaff at which everyone is drunk, and then ending it with a couple having sex under a duvet? That would not have been funny even in the Seventies. That whopper-sesh news report was the opening item of the new show.
And I’m worried about the women here. Emma Doran is a talent but I fear she’s getting squeezed out here. Just one full sketch for her, Dublin 1998, and her second sketch was interrupted by a pair of male comedian, guest comics Darren Conway and Joe McGucken.

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Comedian Emma Doran. Photo by Frank McGrath
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Then the other guest comedians, Rachel Wren and Vivian Birungi, provided a guide to horrible people you are going to meet in a club. Neither of these sketches would have passed the Bechdel test, in which women’s status in a film is measured by the number of conversations they have that are not about a man.
In other words, women have to be more than wives, girlfriends and RTÉ news reporters covering parties as if they were war zones. (Parties are war zones, after all.)
All of this is presented as if shot not on a mobile phone — although it probably should be, and maybe it was — but by an RTÉ news crew in 1980.
Killian Sundermann was poorly served in his nature-programme sketch, What a Countryside!, which I hope keeps running and gets a lot nastier.
The show ended with a musical parody by Michael Fry. I understand that Michael Fry is famous for these parodies. But I didn’t know what he was parodying and the sketch was terribly long.
So were the credits. There was a credit for a Defamation Lawyer, and maybe that was a joke. If No Worries If Not! really has a defamation lawyer, he was either too busy taking things out or not busy enough, because we were seriously short of danger here.
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