Gareth Roberts Gareth Roberts

The endless hypocrisy of the comedy class

Personally I find TV panel shows pretty unbearable. They’re like being at a student party full of lairy smartarses you don’t know, and probably wouldn’t want to. But now a clip from one has, in the journalistic parlance of our time, ‘resurfaced on social media’. It is never a good thing for the people involved when a clip resurfaces on social media. It’s the kind of resurfacing that Jaws did in his heyday.  

Then people knew exactly what a woman was about five cultural minutes ago, and found the idea of pretending not to know hilarious

This particular eruption from the deep comes from the Big Fat Quiz Of The Year 2008, the fourth edition of the annual Channel 4 institution. (Its twentieth anniversary edition is due this December. It’s still going because of course it is – long running TV brands used to be like hens’ teeth, but now they linger on and on. The Big Fat Quiz will always be with us, like the poor or herpes or Ken Barlow.) Jimmy Carr is the host, and the three teams consist of a variety of comedians and presenters: Michael McIntyre and Claudia Winkleman, Sean Lock and James Corden, and Dara Ó Briain and Davina McCall. 

2008 may seem like ancient history to the young, but all of these people – with the obvious exception of the late Sean Lock – are still around and still working. If anything, they are more prominent now. Interestingly, there are few visual clues, apart from the comparative youth of those featured, to suggest that this was filmed any time other than yesterday. A TV clip from 1972 would’ve seemed like an archaeological wonder in 1987, but everything on the cultural surface has seized up in this century. Under the surface it’s a very different story.  

Because my, this clip demonstrates how the tunes of these people have changed.

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