The genius of David Firth

Imagine Chris Morris’s Jam crossed with YouTube conspiracy channels crossed with the news and you have The News Hasn’t Happened Yet created by David Firth,

Firth is probably best known for the odd webseries Salad Fingers

Firth is one of those creators whose work stands head and shoulders above most others because of not just the originality on display, but because he manages to mix horror and comedy so successfully. This can be seen best of all for me in what his his masterwork, Cream.

So go to his channel and take in the full glory of his work…

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My top 5 YouTube channels

YouTube has been around now since 2005 so a generation has grown up with the streaming service as a platform to publish videos, while those of us digital immigrants have adapted to this newish medium which has helped transform how we view what they used to call ‘motion pictures’ in the olden days. Of late YouTube has had a bad press thanks to wankers like Logan Paul, but there’s a number of really creative channels out there putting out the sort of work which is of such a high standard that it puts most film and television to shame. Here then is a top five in no special order of channels you should watch.

5/ hiimmarymary

Hi I’m Mary Mary is one of the tens of dozens, even hundreds of horror webseries out there but under the jump scare obsessed masses, this takes time to build up a very Silent Hill type of creepiness in a strange scenario before the scares (and the scares are earned) kick in.  The series is ongoing still but here’s the first one which sets the mood.

4/ Infochammel

There’s a touch of the Chris Morris about this fictional channel which is a pisstake of those horrendous shopping channels mixed with daytime telly. It is on the whole, genius and here’s a sample…

3/ Petscop

There’s loads of internet myths about ‘haunted video games’ but few manage to act as a story in its own right as well as acting as a nice satire of that genre of YouTube video where people play through games. In this case the set-up is that someone has found an old Playstation 1 game and is playing it for the first time with us as viewers. This also subverts a genre and the less said about what happens the better as it is a joy…

2/ Don’t hug me I’m Scared

This starts as a kids TV show and then goes places as it tells a story in six parts. It is by far the best thing you’ll see today.

1/Red Letter Media

There’s lots of review channels on YouTube. Most are shite, but this one run by Mike Stoklasa and Jay Bauman does that trick of managing to critique films, take the piss out of YouTube review videos and do something you can probably only do on YouTube. Stuff like this for example..

There’s loads of crap on YouTube but dig deep enough and you’ll get gems like the stuff listed here and more as we enter a new age where anyone can upload anything and the only thing separating them from the masses is talent, ideas and creativity. All of these channels display that in abundance…

TV Go Home is a lost joy

The years linking the end of the last millennium to the days before 911 seem now to look like some Golden Age where the worst thing we had to worry about was the new Oasis single. Now we’re happy if we look forward to a month without nuclear war or Nazis stamping over us, and one of the bits of the media that reflects today’s horror is Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror.

Back in 2001 Brooker was still trailing in the slipstream of Chris Morris and best known for his work as a games journalist and one of the great websites of the age, TV Go Home best know for giving us Nathan Barley, who started out as simply Cunt.

In 2001 Brooker and Channel 4 produced a 6-part series based upon the site which although patchy still has enough delights to make it a bit of a lost gem of British comedy. Daily Mail Island in particular seems like a piece of prophesy thanks to Brexit making Brooker’s satire seem oddly dated, and that was why Brooker stopped the site as culture had caught up with satire.

The series hasn’t ever enjoyed an official release which is odd considering how marketable Brooker is in 2017 especially, but the series is up on YouTube and should be enjoyed as it really does hit the mark more than it misses.

Enjoy before they get taken down…

The death of Sean Hughes is a massive loss to comedy

Comedian Sean Hughes died at the age of 51 of liver failure. Apart from the personal tragedy for friends and family, the world of comedy has lost someone unique, and we don’t see people like Hughes coming through the comedy circuit these days. Hughes wasn’t trained in comedy at university as many of today’s bland comics tend to be, but lived a life which many of us of the same age lived.

I saw Hughes live a few times either at comedy festivals or places like Reading Festival, but it was his Channel 4 programme Sean’s Show that defined him for me.

His slightly cynical, dark world-view was hidden by a sense of the absurd at times, but his view of the world mirrored so many of us. At that time in the 90’s the world was changing and Hughes’s comedy helped reflect upon a world we didn’t really understand at the time but we laughed at it with Hughes.

I also liked the fact he stuck with stand-up throughout his life. Yes, he did sitcoms, panel shows and other TV appearances, but he never used stand-up as a means to an end of becoming a ‘celebrity’. I’ll always respect him for sticking to his guns and that’s why I’ll miss him. I’ll miss the fact we’ll never have his view on life at a time when we need people like Hughes.

The strangeness of Alex Jones

Recently John Oliver had this fantastic bit on right wing conspiracy nut Alex Jones.

Jones is a fascinating character not because of his lunacy but because his lunacy draws people in. Here’s Jones interviewing director David Lynch.

I mean, Lynch isn’t an idiot. He must realise Jones is at best, a xenophobic lunatic, at worst a far-right conspiracy theorist that helps neo-fascists like Donald Trump? And make no doubt about it, Jones is way, way, way out there but back in the early days of the internet Jones was just a conspiracy theorist who attracted the attention of Jon Ronson for his 2000 series, Secret Rulers of the World.

For most of us in the UK this was our first look at Jones and hey, he was someone to point and laugh at because there was no way a nut like Jones could get anywhere near influencing power?

Fuck.

Jones big break was 911. He was one of those who carved himself a niche after that day (and there’s a lot of folk who tried) and used the attacks to vindicate not only his strangeness, but help build up his business which as Oliver points out in his video, is pretty substantive and worth millions to him.

Jones mined the early days of the internet when people would come online and look at weird stuff. UFO, JFK stuff, but also Jones’s libertarianism cut across right and left, yet it is perfectly clear what Jones is; a far right demagogue who has undue, undemocratic influence upon the American president. It’s only right Jones should be scrutinised because people like him were the vanguard of the alt-right, and indeed, all the online extremists from all political persuasions. He’s a danger to democracy and I find it extraordinary that people like Lynch and other somewhat sensible seeming people give him the time of day.

Don’t share anything from Jones. Don’t give him the clicks. Most of all don’t believe that he’s actually Bill Hicks!

Mel Brooks and political correctness

Mel Brooks popped up on Radio 4’s Today programme to talk comedy, and his comments have hit the usual outrage. Essentially his point is this;

“Comedy is the lecherous little elf whispering in the king’s ear, always telling the truth about human behaviour.”

What that means is that anything is up for grabs in comedy, as it should be and even he draws a line, as it should be.

The director said he could find comedy in almost everything but conceded there were areas even he would not mine for material.

“I personally would never touch gas chambers or the death of children or Jews at the hands of the Nazis,” he told the BBC’s Radio 4’s Today programme.

“Everything else is ok.”

These should be uncontroversial comments but this is 2017 and saying that anything is up for grabs means people will react in a way to prove Brooks point. Now remember, Brooks has been alive a very long time, and has fought actual real Nazis as well as breaking down barriers with material like this.

Yet in stepped members of the modern mainstream left who decided having a pop at Brooks rather than actually grasping what he said was the thing to do.

Well, that’s a question; when did he do anything worthwhile? I mean it isn’t as if he fought Nazis in WW2, reshaped the world of comedy in the 60’s, made some of the finest comedy films of all time in the shape of The Producers, Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety, Young Frankenstein, not to mention producing The Elephant Man and hiring David Lynch, not to mention producing David Cronenberg’s version of The Fly. His C.V. is beyond impressive and in recent years he’s been semi-retired which anyone shouldn’t begrudge him.

But no, rather than deal with the point that everything is up for grabs in comedy the supposed ‘liberal left’ rail against Brooks based not upon what he’s done, but based on their own identity politics. And Brooks has a point. Can you imagine a major Hollywood studio letting this into a major film in 2017?

Me neither, but deconstruct that scene and it’s clearly attacking racism by using language which isn’t ‘politically correct’ which is a phrase that’s moved on from the Stewart Lee definition.

Essentially it is depressing to see the left adopt the same knee-jerk rhetoric and intolerance as the right. There’s a lot of comedy out there which is nice, safe and bland but for those of us who don’t want to endure Michael McIntyre we want to have the ability to offend and attack those people, attitudes and institutions that comedy should. What’s hypocritical about many of those attacking Brooks is they’re ageist which shows how pathetic some of them are.

Comedy should point out truths and when it can, punch up at everyone and although intent is also key (which is why Bernard Manning was a bigot as he never dared punch up) Nobody should get a pass because it might sound offensive to someone, regardless of their politics. Otherwise we’re crossing into a censorious society where the powerful can potentially escape because it doesn’t fit one’s politics to attack them.

ITV’s Hot Fuzz obsession

I love Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz. It’s a wonderful satire/homage to action film as well as British film all in one package.

ITV2 and ITV4 are those channels lurking in the depths of Freeview or whatever TV package you have. It generally shows shite like Made in Chelsea or repeats of The Professionals but it also shows films, in fact it shows films a lot, it just happens to be that they’ll show the same film every week.

IN the case of Hot Fuzz, they seem obsessed by it. People have noticed this. There’s even a Reddit thread about it. There’s not much evidence online of the multiple showings as companies don’t seem to have listings from the last decade or so, but it pops up on sites and of course Twitter has noted this too.So what exactly is going on?

Well, the solution is simple enough. TV companies buy films in a package and seeing as ITV2/4 are those channels watched when you’re pissed and channel hopping after the pub, so you’ll stop on them if you recognise something in your beer-fuelled stupor. True, you may end up watching the same film four times in a week which doesn’t just mean ITV have ran out of ideas, but it also means you’re probably drinking too much.

Fact is all these smaller channels are desperate for your views. They know also people drink. Mix the two and you’ve got ITV showing Hot Fuzz so often that you could stop watching it one night and pick up from the same point another night. Still, at least they’re showing something good, imagine if they broadcast the shite remake of Total Recall every week?

Oh, they do? Fuck.