Sneaky FOX Preview

closePlease note: This post was published over a year ago, so please be aware that its content may not be quite so accurate anymore. Also, the format of the site has changed since it was published, so please excuse any formatting issues.

Here at the station, we get advanced copies of upcoming shows so that we can familiarize ourselves with show before it hits the airwaves. Well, I guess that’s the reason, anyway.

Last night I watched the first two episodes of FOX’s upcoming show, Kelsey Grammer presents The Sketch Show (be sure to check out the website as they have “online only” sketches you can watch (Although, I thought that Stethoscope and Pooh were the only really funny ones)).

So is the show any good? The show is pretty popular in England, which may be an indicator that people here will hate it (as is often the case with puddle-jumping humour. What is it about Brit-wit that Americans just don’t find funny?). The original version features a different cast, however.

So back to the question of if the show any good or not. The answer is: not bad. I would have to say that, on the whole, the show is pretty funny. Some of the sketches are amazingly short (if you’ve seen the promos FOX has been running where two knights are in a hotel lobby and one of them asks for a room for “two knights”, then you’ve already seen that entire sketch), whereas some of the sketches are interminably long. If the first two episodes are a trustworthy pattern for the series, each show has one, really long, not terribly funny sketch that you just wish would end. The really short stuff is the best. My favourite sketch so far is the one where two guys are sitting around trying to avoid the subject of how one of them only has one testicle.

And how much does Grammer add to the show? Surprisingly little; the weight of the show is easily carried on the shoulders of Grammer’s costars. He actually appears very little in the first two episodes and it would seem that his name has been added to the title, merely to lend the show some credibility with American audiences.

Kelsey Grammer presents The Sketch Show debuts on FOX this Sunday.

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  1. Finally saw it. šŸ™‚

    Well, what can I say? I was probably less-whelmed than you were. The timing of the humor seemed to be off a step.

    The essence of humor, in my mind, is the unexpected. Take the sign-language sketch for example. They keep saying “Keep it moving”, and you KNOW the sign interpreter is going to do something to annoy the speaker, so it’s not a surprise when it happens. And the actions were too spaced apart (the jokes per minute ratio was low). AND it didn’t make sense internally: if they speaker hadn’t finished answering the question, how could he move on to the next one? Broke the suspension of disbelief. The same was true of the song at the end. You KNOW the backup singers are going to keep messing up, and Kelsey doesn’t make sure they understand before they try again, so it’s not surprising at all when it happens. You basically get the single joke in that sketch 10 seconds into it, but the sketch goes on for another few minutes.

    Also, they seemed to miss opportunities for humor. Take the knight-thru-the-metal-detector sketch. You EXPECT that he will set off the detector, so it’s not a surprise. And without his keys, he either WILL or WON’T, and with only two possibilities, you can anticipate both. So, basically, no humor at all in that sketch.

    Imagine, then, the same scene. A knight goes through a metal detector. We expect it to go off, but it doesn’t! Despite being covered in armor, the metal detector senses nothing. Humor count = 1. Then another knight goes through, and nothing. And another. OK, we’ve established that the knights aren’t setting off the metal detector. Finally, one goes through, and it DOES go off. By this time, we expect that it won’t, so we’re surprised. Why did it go off? He looks down and realizes he has his keyring on. That’s the reason, and we’re at humor count = 2. Sheepishly, he puts his keys in the bucket and moves back, but we DON’T have to see the rest! We don’t need to see him NOT set off the metal detector, the humor is played out. We expect that he won’t set off the metal detector, and can immediately move on to the next scene.

    Sigh. I need to open a humor repair. Too bad I’m in Japan. šŸ™

  2. Stethoscope and Pooh aren’t on the website anymore. The ones that are….hmm. I might have smiled once, briefly. šŸ˜ In pity.

  3. The only thing I disagree with you about is that humour is derived exclusively from mystery. Laurel and Hardy made a good living by setting up obvious jokes, then executing them exactly how the audience expected.

  4. You are correct. I oversimplified the case. Humor _can_ come from the unexpected, but not exclusively.

    After I had posted that message, I watched a recording of some of my students. They were videotaping messages to a teacher (congratulations because he was engaged). Sometimes they would make mistakes or joke around on camera, and dissolve into peals of laughter, and I often found myself laughing along. I clearly don’t speak the language enough to get the humor of the words, but it was still funny to watch. If asked, I couldn’t explain _why_ it was funny. Body language or tone of voice or something maybe. Some things are just universal. šŸ™‚

  5. Saw second episode. 22 minutes, no laughs. Every joke was telegraphed in advanced. Laugh-track is grating, music between sketchs is annoying (we don’t have any actual humor to put here, so let’s play the same dozen notes over and over again). Fully expect cancelation soon.

  6. Yeah, probably.

    A little info about ratings, the overnights we got on the premiere was 4.2/6 and last Sunday’s show was 3.4/5.

    I’ll try to keep everyone updated.

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