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Monday, October 13, 2008
PAUL MERTON 1, STEPHEN FRY 0
And a big fat nil at that!

Have I got news? No, just larfs.

What am I going on about you ask? Well, this week saw two of my favourite 'comedians' (slightly reductive as they are both so much more than simple 'joke~tellers') went head~to~head on the telly (not on the same day though) with new documentary shows. Not only that, they were 'on the road' style travel journals, so comparisons can be easily (or lazily) made. And that's what's happening here.

Nice tie Fry!

Both PAUL "I Keep Thinking It's Tuesday" MERTON and STEPHEN "Dammit Peter!" FRY have had a special place in my heart since the mid~Eighties and I guess I 'got into them' (as much as one can 'get into' people) pretty much at the same time. I have followed their careers closely (I've seen Merton 'live' twice and own a signed book by Fry) and enjoyed them as much as I did in my formative years. The Paul~ster continues to tickle my giggle muscles every week on HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU? whilst The Fry Man enthrals me whenever he gets round to pod~casting. So, two men very much in my eye and liked accordingly. But now, they're up against each other... Who will win?

Conversely, Fry has his own black cab.

Well, I guess you've read the title of this post so you will have surmised that Paul's new show, PAUL MERTON IN INDIA bettered STEPHEN FRY IN AMERICA. The former not only bettered the latter but also battered it bitterly. Cripes, bettered the latter but also battered it bitterly... what am I? Some kind of poet? Anyway, moving on. I lurved last year's IN CHINA and this year's proves to be just as entertaining; and that's what Merton's show has in abundance - entertainment. We revel in his culture shock and experience India as he does; there's no teacher and pupil dichotomy here. There's so much joy to be found in his own education concerning his surroundings that its hard not to be infected by the comedian's otherness in the country. His travelogue style is not condescending or patronising, he claims no superior knowledge and takes us with him in that vein.

Apparently, he was very nearly born an American.Yeah, right...

Sadly, Fry's foray into this 'documentary' comes off poorly, rather like his Gutenberg Press dalliance earlier this year. There's no real insight to his subject and, whilst we're at it, trying to reduce a land mass (not to mention the people) as huge as the United States is pointless. I mean, what was the point to his show? It seemed like an edited highlights of a bad LOUIS THEROUX series; all Stevey F did was meet 'odd' people (some 'mobsters' and the creator of Wikipedia), make ice~cream and perform as a croupier (hardly a unique experience, let alone an 'American' experience). The less said about the segment with STING the better - what were they thinking? Let's contextualise for the audience? That an Englishman can, wait for it, live in New York? He's tried to take on way too much and, as a result, his brevity leaves his subjects meaningless with no insight or even a theme (apart from that he was in America). Must try harder. But, in the mean time, I'll be catching the repeat of Paul's programme tonight.

Thankfully, Paul doesn't claim to be nearIy Indian...


'Til the next time,
C.

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posted by Cameron McEwan at 3:11 pm -
5 Comments:
  • At 1:21 pm, Blogger FRANK said…

    Well, I did sort of enjoy part one of Mr. Fry's taxi ride across America in a brain switched off way, which is surely an anathema to much of what Fry represents, and I would defend the Guttenberg documentary to my dying day cos I thought it was ruddy marvellous telly. But you're right about Fry's latest effort. Some very odd choices - the ice cream making and the Sting bit were just awful dumbed down, lazy nonsense - but hopefully it'll get better.

    The Paul Merton series I haven't seen at all so I can't comment on that but you may just have persuaded me to watch an episode just to compare. Oh, listen to me. Trying to compare two of the greatest living Englishmen...not possible and surely we can love them both equally.

     
  • At 3:45 pm, Blogger DAVE BONES said…

    Have you seen all the Hindus in the UK complaining about Merton's India. Hilarious.

     
  • At 8:53 am, Blogger Cameron McEwan said…

    FRANK
    I enjoyed to an extent but it left me feeling a bit angry at his laziness. The second episode barely held my interest.

    Anyway, he's still a God and I am looking forward immensely to his LAST CHANCE TO SEE doc whenever he finishes it. Really enjoyed the Adams book and I'm sure Fry will do it justice.

    DAVE BONES
    I haven't seen that - I'll have a look. Thanks for the heads up. I wonder what they would be complaining about?

     
  • At 3:55 pm, Blogger sunaina said…

    The Paul Merton in India is clear display of the Brit loser mentality. The fact that the whole new generation is nothing but a bunch od self-destructive losers cant be wrapped up on the shady, weird incidents in a faraway country. It seems like Brits get the pleasure of watching the weird stuff which may keep them in the illusion of their false greatness.
    Yes there are naked sadhus in India, YES we have snake charmers and the eunuchs in India....so???
    U will find all kinds of shocking unexpected people anywhere in the world!
    And Mr. Merton obviously is a really bad traveller with no sense of respect for the culture, traditions, people and their beliefs! He went on saying that Shiva (A Hindu God) is a guy like me!!! Does is realize that he is hurting the sentiments of the millions of people to feed the fake egos of his Brit brethren? Its alsolutely ridiculous! For a poor roadside man looking at him its the eyes of a terrorist??? If Indians are that scary why go make program there? Make programs on your own good for nothing Brits living off on the council benefits provided by the taxes paid by the hard-working immigrats in Britain. If you do not understand a culture do not comment, just keep shut!

     
  • At 5:59 pm, Blogger Cameron McEwan said…

    Not a fan then.

     
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