When it first started, 10 O’Clock Live was bloody terrible. Admittedly, many of us were expecting the worst and had more than a large chunk of ill will towards it, knowing More4 had scrapped the legendary Daily Show at the same time. Parts have since improved, others got even worse, so I have a few suggestions on how this show can get the best out of its talent.
While the idea of interviewing politicians and having serious debates in a comedy context is hardly new, the live format really does not help in this situation. There is a damn good reason TDS is pre-recorded the same day and they are taking full advantage of the internet by regularly putting uncut and extended interviews on the Comedy Central website. If there is a particularly fascinating guest, these extras can be longer than the show itself.
Any time David Mitchell even approaches an interesting point in the 10 O’Clock Live interview segments, he slams them shut like a piano lid on fingers in full flight. I realise this is partly because he has zero experience as an interviewer, let alone in the live television environment with people barking in your ear about cutting to commercials. The one and only member of the cast with these skills is Lauren Laverne and it shows when moderating the final round-table discussions. She can move seamlessly into a break rather than just barking ‘We’re out of time!’
Since the beginning people have asked if Laverne can be given something to do other than read out a satirical monologue clearly written by someone else. Solve two issues in one fell swoop – put Laverne in charge of the debate and maybe even the political interview, so she can play to her strengths and hide Mitchell’s understandable weakness. In turn, it frees Mitchell up to do what he does best: monologues and sketches.
Here is where my next suggestion comes in. Jimmy Carr can’t act. At all. And he most certainly can’t do voices or characters. The only joke in the current sketches is the fact they are obviously rubbish, therefore we are meant to laugh along with Carr at his inability to get through it. He is becoming the Jimmy Fallon of Channel 4 and nobody wants that. For those who don’t watch Saturday Night Live, Fallon famously giggled through every sketch and spent more time looking at the audience than his co-stars. So either give Mitchell the sketches or, even better, lend his expertise to it so Carr can play straight man. Or mute. A mute character would be good.
This leaves Carr primarily with the opening newsround, or noos round as he would have it. For anyone who is on Twitter, this is just a recap of the week’s most well-worn memes. Only usually not as funny. This seriously needs more work and my suggestion would be…. make it better? Some of the jokes are so obvious that the audience is tittering way before the punchline.
The audience is my final point. I have this issue with The Daily Show as well, so not just 10 O’Clock Live, but the whooping and cheering at EVERYTHING is infuriating. At the beginning they put Charlie Brooker – unaccustomed to an audience during his pieces to camera – right off his timing. He has steadily got used to their presence and I was very pleased to note they kept fairly schtum during the excellent piece on Sky’s Japan coverage. However, applauding every time a Tory is insulted or someone swears is just childish and not helping the performers at all. I still feel Brooker is at his best with these written segments in a pre-recorded environment, but he’s on a learning curve and doing much better already. Here’s hoping the whole show does, too.