Comedy on British television is currently in a dodgy way, lying on its back gurgling at the ceiling and laughing at the sight of its own arse in the mirror. Recent shows from Katy Brand have been lazy, uninspiring and so insultingly obvious in approach that you’re reminded that there’s been funnier massacres.
Kevin Bishop’s show, another programme that has mystifyingly been granted further series, contains all the subtlety and wit of a dead dog nailed to a skateboard being pushed down a hill.
And on and on it goes until you actually start to believe you’ll never laugh with a joke or comic situation ever again.
So step forward Hardy Bucks, the show that just might save you from hurling yourself off a tower block.
Hardy Bucks is a situation comedy that is fast becoming a cult favourite over in Ireland on the RTE channel… and boy, it’s good. It is sickeningly good.
The show follows a group of disaffected lads hanging around a one-horse town looking for kicks (aka anything to stop the stultifying rot of boredom eroding the brain to a redundant dead rubber).
While the show is warm and very funny (drily so), the whole thing is cast in a weird fug which reminds me of the lyrics to the Lovin’ Spoonful’s ‘Boredom’…
“Boredom… my mind’s counting time, trucks go rolling by… well it’s a one drag town and I’m all alone, I just can’t sit and watch my telephone, no-one knows my number and I can’t be found. There’s no good people just kicking around… so here we are together, machine and me… I feel about as local as a fish in a tree.”
The weariness that cuts through each ridiculous situation that arises should strike a chord with anyone who ever felt listless and beaten by their hometown. Mercifully, this show isn’t merely an exercise in aimlessly staring out of windows, but rather, a dadaist pursuit of what happens when you’ve got too much time on your hands.
So amongst the pathetic local resin dealers and job clubs, you get fall down funny freestyle rapping in libraries, the lamest foam party you’ve ever seen, a pretend Stig, endless sessions skinning up and disastrous job interviews.
The whole programme is a phenomenal achievement which I fear I’m reducing to a horseshit scholarly thinkpiece or something. There’s nothing like a writer trying to talk something up to suck the fun out of something.
Basically, if you’re lazy and need direct reference points, then I’d say that you take the unnerving smalltown realism of Phoenix Nights, cut it with the accents of Father Ted and splice it all with a the warmth and occasional wisdom of Rab C. Nesbitt and the flashes of blackness found in the wonderful Pulling… you’re gravitating toward the world of the Hardy Bucks.
Shows like this are what BBC Two and Channel 4 cut their teeth on in years past… it’s the kind of show that is desperately missing from our listings right now. As each new, glossy wackyfest rolls in and out, immediately forgettable, Hardy Bucks occupies the space – immediately quotable and fall down funny. Quite simply, it’s the funniest show of new writers that I’ve seen in a decade.
In short: British TV NEEDS Hardy Bucks and if a channel doesn’t pick it up soon I’ll meet you all on the roof of the tower block.