British Panel Shows – Why They Are Brilliant Comedy!
British panel shows are almost like game shows, except they are informative, smart, and brilliantly funny. Comedians from all over Britain, and some from the rest of the world, sit on panels and either give opinions, do math and vocabulary, or just listen and learn new facts from the world around us.
I find these comedians to be super smart, brilliant re the timing of their jokes, and fast on their feet. The comebacks from these men and women are often faster than the speed of thought, right on target, and extremely smart.
Some of these panel shows are so good, that they keep e going while I am working out at the gym, and that is no easy task!
My favorite of these is Would I Lie To You. Hosted by Rob Brydon (Uncle Brynn from Gavin and Stacey), it is the funniest of them all. There are two teams, each with a captain. The brilliant, sharp, funny, and fast on his feet Lee Mack heads one team. The stoic and quick-witted David Mitchell heads the other. Various other folks make up the rest of their teams, some from different walks of life, not just other comedians. Here are some of the categories:
“Home Truths”: Panelists read out a statement about themselves. The opposing team has to decide whether it is true or false by asking the panelist questions. The first series used all six panelists; from the second series onwards, the round tended to focus on the four guests. In series two a ‘possessions’ element was introduced; the panelist takes an item out of a box along with a statement from a card and has to convince the opposing team that it belongs to them.
“This is My…”: A guest comes onto the set and is introduced by first name but remains standing in silence as the round continues. Panelists on one team tell the opposing team about their relationship to the guest; only one account out of three told is genuine, and the opposing team has to work out which it is. At the end of the round, the guest reveals their true identity, and which of the panelists they have a genuine relationship with.
“Quick-Fire Lies”: The second questioning round, with the panelists chosen at random. In earlier series, the panelists were ostensibly under a time limit although no on-screen indicator of the time limit was ever present. The notion of a time limit was eventually dropped in the later series, making the round identical to “Home Truths” in practice. This round usually features – but is not exclusive to – Mitchell and Mack.
Here is a very long taste of some of the best bits. Watch a little or a lot, you will not be dissatisfied, I guarantee it!
8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown and Countdown
The first is a show where two teams of two compete against each other in math problems and vocabulary. If you think that is boring, you could not be more wrong. Countdown is about current events, and again, what might seem boring is far from it!
And it is interspersed with other skits. One was a poem contest, and Joe’s poem was quite vulgar, and so funny, all of the other comedians lost it!
This is a comedy version of two British shows, Countdown, and 8 Out of 10 Cats. Hosted by Jimmy Carr, this also has two teams. Team captains were Sean Lock and Jon Richardson. Sean passed away very recently, and the newer episodes are not yet available in the US, so we will have to wait and see when they find a new permanent team captain. Sean was brilliantly funny. Brilliantly. Just watch the old videos. PS Jimmy Carr is an equal opportunity insulter. And when they throw it back at him, he accepts the harsh comedy graciously, he takes it as good as he gives it. I admire that.
This show is hilarious, and educational. The teams compete in math and vocabulary. Susie Dent is the resident vocabulary expert, and Rachel Riley, the math expert. Then there is an added comic next to Susie who does a couple of comedy bits during the show, and Jimmy Carr does outlandish skits as the teams are trying to concentrate and figure out the math and vocabulary problems. It is challenging and funny!
Susie Dent is the vocabulary expert and Jimmy is constantly making fun of the 14 books she has written on word derivations, etc. When Susie gets a zinger in on Jimmy, it is also done in good fun, and usually hilarious!
And it gets a little racy, it is taken to a level not known in the US. For example, they ask the gorgeous math expert to draw a penis. Without breaking stride, she draws a penis in mid-orgasm. And the penis is orgasming numbers. It is quite racy, but Rachel brilliantly made the joke her own. Some skits are not for the faint of heart!
Lastly, this is where I first saw Nick Mohammed! He is not a star on Ted Lasso! He is also brilliantly funny and smart!
QI (short for Quite Interesting) is a British comedy panel game television quiz show hosted by Sandi Toksvig since 2016, in the incarnation I prefer. She has been hosting for the last several years and she does a great job reining in the comedians!
This is a show about interesting facts. And there is a panel of four comedians, so the jokes and humor leading up to the facts, etc., is smart and funny, and highly entertaining! And with an “out” host, all bets are off in regards to jokes, equality is wonderful!
This show is all about knowledge, much of it obscure, and always with funny asides by the comedians. You laugh and learn, it is wonderful! Comedian Ala Davies is a regular on the show.
Mock the Week focuses on six comic panelists – split into two teams, in which they compete over four rounds, presided over by host Dara Ó Briain. Although the program maintains a quiz aspect to the format, which features questions on news items taken from those made during the week before an episode’s filming, it is largely sidelined completely with a focus on comedy derived from topical, satirical discussions on the subject of each question, as well as from rounds featuring either stand-up routines by certain panelists, or improvisation comedy. (Thanks again Wikipedia)
The below clip is the segment where each comedian does a one-liner in answer to some fake news title or some such, this is my favorite bit in the show:
There are many others, you can see some linked here. Most of the ones I see are on Acorn or Brit Box. There are also many episodes on Youtube, so you do not have to pay, but streaming those channels has been well worth it for me! Well worth the monthly fee! Feel free to leave your favorites in the comments!
Jimmy Carr, the Countdown Host, is also hosting a Netflix panel show called The Fix. It is produced in the USA, but has Jimmy, and Katherine Ryan (a Canadian comedian who works in Great Britain). D. L. Hughley is the other team captain. American comedians rotate in each episode, this is what I loved from Britain, now brought to us at home in the USA! One season is out, and a second was due last December, I am eagerly awaiting season two!!
Gaye Mcgill says
Intellectual humor with a British accent sounds absolutely delightful! I need to watch this program.