Just A Minute blog

A blog on the BBC radio programme Just A Minute

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

August 04, 2009

thoughts on today's show

Lots of things to say after the show today. I really enjoyed it. Much more than the previous show. A lot of that of course is Paul Merton (he wasn't there last week). I probably don't praise Paul as much as I should, but the fact is he's a huge talent. I love the fact he loves doing JAM as much as he does because it's hard to imagine the show continuing without him. And I think in a way he's getting better at the show. He knows he is the best, and that we know he is the best, and it seems to me like he's happy to share a little of the limelight these days, which makes for a more interesting show. Even two or three years ago, you felt like he needed to dominate every show he was on and that coming first was like a test of his ability. You'd hear him on every subject, and usually he's be speaking for half the time. Maybe someone had a yarn to him but he seems a more generous player these days. He still holds it all together and intervenes every time it gets boring. But if it's not boring, he doesn't mind listening to someone else for a bit.

Also - and I may be wrong - I feel as if his talk is changing a bit too. Less surreal imagery, less picking up on what the last person was saying and taunting them, more variety in his comedy. I like that too.

I got the feeling today that he really enjoys working with Gyles Brandreth. Apart from a few appearances on Have I Got News For You, I'm not aware that they have worked together much, apart from on JAM. But they seem like a well-matched pair to me. Obviously they have hugely different styles, but they seem to gell. A few years ago I wasn't a big fan of Gyles, mainly because his patter tended to go down the path of a few routines regularly repeated whatever the subject - the blind horse, Hamlet/omelette, the chair Schmitt sat in when he was shot, and one or two more. I found that a bit repetitive, and also he seemed just a little full of himself.

Those routines seem largely to have been put aside. He is still full of himself, but it seems more like he is poking fun at himself. He's still competitive but seems to rein himself in more, and know when to concede. I have the feeling he is possibly better prepared than he used to be, that he's maybe written some notes about the various subjects so has less need to travel familiar paths. He is as good at the "arguing over points" banter as anyone, and genuinely funny when talking on the subject. I like him a lot and, as I say, he seems to work with Paul.

Kit Hesketh-Harvey was on today too and did really well. I like him a lot too - he has such a distinctive style, based on wordplay and vivid word pictures. I can't help thinking he should be on the show more often because he is unique and really adept at the game. Maybe he will appear more often in Clement's absence.

To Shappi Khorsandi. A few weeks ago I was discussing on the Yahoo group the gender differences on JAM. I didn't get much support with general opinion being it didn't matter or that it wasn't an interesting subject. Still I was thinking about that again today. Shappi is a great comedian and was trying hard. But I thought her performance today was lame. Of the seven subjects, she talked only on two of them - the two subjects where she began the round. Two or three times in a row she was picked up on repeating "very" and there was an elaborate set-up by Nicholas, almost pleading with her not to say "very" again and then when she starts, it's like the fifth or sixth word out of her mouth. What's with that?

There is a place on JAM for someone who is a bit quiet, and doesn't really care at all about points. Linda Smith and Peter Jones, are two of the greats of the show - both seemed almost to save up their great lines and so it didn't matter if they went five minutes without speaking - when they did get back in, they had something really funny to give us. But Shappi didn't. Instead it seemed as if she really had nothing to say at all.

As a woman comedian, maybe like Sandi Toksvig and Victoria Wood and Jo Brand, she might not enjoy the arguments over points as much as the boys. But surely she should be at least thinking up the odd line for when she does get in again? That was her fifth show in 12 months - is she getting more runs on the show because she is a woman? Chris Addison, David Mitchell, Ian McMillan, Justin Moorhouse, Phill Jupitus - men who all have been much much better on the show than Shappi and, I think, would have been funnier today.

Briefly on Nicholas - I think he too is reining himself in a bit too. Don't get me wrong, I love him and think he will be almost impossible to replace. But he can sometimes act as if he has to be the centre of attention. Today he seemed a lot quieter - he knew he had great people on the panel and didn't mind them getting on with things. A true pro - he moved things on really well today.

Whew! Lots there! Next week two of my all-time favourites in Stephen Fry and Jenny Eclair are back. Can't wait!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

No offence BUT I thought Twittering was better (as I can't warm to Gyles or Shappi).

4:43 am  

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