Friday, 21 July 2017

The Mash Report - some thoughts

Like the Curate's egg, parts of The Mash Report are excellent. But its treatment from most commentators I've seen online so far will concentrate unfairly on the bits that are a bit rotten. Which is a shame. Nish Kumar is the perfect anchor, and the in-character bits by Andrew Hunter Murray and Rachel Parris were perfect. The mock headline news bits were abysmal (the writers fault, not the presenters) and should be the first thing to go.

Surely though the biggest problem with Mash Report, and this is a problem also suffered by Channel 4's 10 O'Clock Live, and the 11 O'Clock Show & The Late Edition before it, is that they are all DOING THE DAILY SHOW! And you can't do The Daily Show unless a) You are as good as The Daily Show or b) You are The Daily Show.

Dammit, even The Daily Show's not as good as The Daily Show for the past year. But it's still up there. As is Last Week Tonight, The Colbert Report, Samantha Bee's show and all the US shows where the writers have had the last 20 years to get up to speed, and where this format of writing is second nature to them.

Mimicking another country's format is never going to make you the winner in this game. Look at Jonathan Ross. He looked at US TV, saw David Letterman. Ripped off that format for his Last Resort show. Where did that get him? Okay, bad example.

But look at our TV comedy successes and you usually see originality winning. The Day Today (grown through radio's On The Hour) was a new way of spoofing the news. Have I Got News For You (grown through radio's News Quiz) invented the comedy news panel show. I hear Spitting Image is up for a revival, and you can see why: the kids in charge of TV commissioning are too young to remember that Spitting Image wasn't actually funny the first time round.

So Mash Report is a nice effort, but unless it carves its own niche will probably not last. In the meantime, I hear Charlie Brooker might be getting another series of News Wipe. Perhaps we could keep this gap in the schedule open for him?

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video 

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