Last night I went to watch an episode of Would I Lie To You? being recorded at Pinewood studios. Rob Bryden had mentioned it on Twitter, and it was free, and Reginald D. Hunter who I think might be my favourite living comedian* was appearing, and a friend is the executive producer and writes some of the jokes, and these all seemed like good reasons for going. Also, I didn’t realise beforehand how far away Pinewood studios is. It’s in Buckinghamshire! We were driven there from the station at a bracing speed by a taxi driver who appeared to be under the impression that it was a race, even though we were the only car on the road.
Anyway, it was lots of fun. The other guests were Ken Livingstone, Fern Britton (who I had to google so as not to mix her up with that awful teenager who presents music shows) and Stephen Mangan, all of whom were good value for money. Fern and Ken, especially, since they are not paid to be funny and I wasn’t certain they would be. Fern was also an exceptionally good liar.
Rob Bryden presented, and was as likeable as ever, even when he was having to get people to repeat lines for the sake of the recording. And team captain number one was David Mitchell, whom I used to dislike because he has the cold dead eyes of a shark, and because I didn’t think he was handsome enough for TV, but whom I subsequently met at the aformentioned friend’s house, and he was so lovely that I stopped being offended by his looks (I admit, this isn’t the most flattering change of heart, and I still hope he doesn’t read this) and decided he was very nice indeed. And last night he was very quick, and very funny, and very generous about giving other people the chance to shine, and keeping quiet when they were making a good joke at his expense.
All of which was in marked contrast with the other team captain, Lee Mack. I really don’t know what he was doing there, and I don’t wish to sound like a snob, but in a studio full of smart, witty and broadly right-thinking (by which, naturally, I mean left-leaning) people, he just seemed completely out of place. His end-of-the-pier, slightly racist, slightly sexist, slightly homophobic brand of humour was utterly at odds with the tone of the show, and putting Ken Livingstone and Reginald D. Hunter on his team only emphasised that. Sadly, the audience didn’t agree with me and laughed heartily at his most boorish jokes. Which was a shame.
And talking of funny, I’d like to apologise to anyone who watched Comic Relief on Friday night on the basis of my enthusiastic endorsement. Barely a laugh was raised. I can’t remember when they stopped letting comedians present Comic Relief, but it’s a poorer thing for it.
*I can’t immediately think of a dead comedian I prefer, but I wanted to qualify it somehow so as not to sound too ebullient.