Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, “Toilet Books” on iPlayer (until 23 March 2009)

In a world of stratified markets, every special interest gets its own TV channel. If you’re hot for cars and stuff that explodes, you can watch Dave. If you like racy exploitation docs, there’s Channel 4. If you can simply never see too many expensively formulaic dramas about sexcrimes, Hallmark is your friend with a rolling schedule of Law And Order: SVU. So I’m expecting that very soon one of the networks will announce the launch of a channel to service my very own special interest: middle-aged men looking uncomfortable in suits while getting eloquently profane about how shit modern life is.

It could be called “Charlie” after the current king of being funny and a bit sneery. The idents could feature the channel’s stars looking really annoyed. You could even build the marketing campaign around pathetic puns on the channel’s name (“Coming up: Mark Kermode on Charlie!” – oh, how the laughter will ring out). Anyway, until someone picks up my obviously amazing idea, I’m going to be watching the very brilliant and funny Stewart Lee Comedy Vehicle on BBC2, Mondays, 10pm.

Last night, Stewart took on publishing in a routine that kicked at bloated blockbusters, misery memoirs, celebrity clag, the self-destructive discount economics of publishing and the depressing influence of supermarkets on bookselling (“Get yer books! Pile up the books! Get a multipack of books! Why not take an extra book home, put it in the freezer!”). “Did Willian Tyndale burn at the stake in 1536 in the cause of vernacular English literature so that you could read The Gospel According To Chris Moyles? No he didn’t,” says Lee. And he’s got a mardy, elitist, excellent point. Books can be radical and world-shaking, not just something you chuck in the trolley with the other consumables:

What does it tells us about our civilisation when the book is held in such low esteem that it’s possible to append the word “book” to the word “toilet” and make the compound word “toilet book”. […] Library book, yes. Children’s book, yes. Poetry book, yes. Toilet book, no. Toilet paper, yes. Toilet brush, yes. Toilet duck, you can have toilet duck. Toilet book, no.

One thought on “Panned

  1. Yes, it really was rather marvellous. If I could do something about film on Channel Charlie then I’d be in a kind of heaven.

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