Limmy’s Show! A Treat. But I Can’t Tell You Why.
FOR NO OTHER reason than he wanted to, here’s James reviewing a little-watched comedic delight – Limmy’s Show!
If you go onto Netflix now, you will be able to watch the first series of one of the strangest and best sketch shows ever constructed. It ran for three series and a Christmas special from 2010 to 2013 on BBC Two Scotland. It was called Limmy’s Show! and I’ve never seen anything like it.
A problem I often find with many, particularly American sketch shows (you shut the fuck up, Saturday Night Live, and your celebrity pandering) is that the sketches tend to have great set ups, the punchlines are fine but they all seem to go on for far too long. Limmy’s Show! is punchy, speedy and rarely adheres to groaningly obvious structures. Mind you, it rarely adheres to anything. It follows a trend in sketch shows notably used by Peter Serafinowicz whereby, the sketches are mainly stand alone and perfect length for a Youtube distraction.
Much of comedy revolves around the idea that people are dicks. Here’s a thing, here’s some awful people, or people who can screw it up, sit back and watch it all go horrible. Limmy’s show doesn’t. It revolves around the idea that the world is grubby and confusing and people are trying to do the best by them and by others. Take Jacqueline McCafferty, who lost three years of her life on heroin, and another five years on a methadone project that was meant to get her off it. Why are we invited to laugh at her? Because she’s trying to better herself and the world is doing its best to stop her. We laugh at her, not from spite, but in bemusement at her misfortune. It is comedy, not to laugh at the put upon, but to confuse the audience.
The structure of many sketches and jokes is: set up, twist, punchline. I could say Brian ‘Limmy’ Limond’s sketches are small snatched glimpses into the meaninglessness of modern life. Or I could say that they’re short bits in which stuff happens and they’re funny in a way that I can’t describe. I think that’s the central issue with this review: I can’t describe Limmy. I don’t know what tricks he’s pulling, I can’t name the structures of his sketches, I can’t even describe what parts of them make me laugh. I don’t even laugh at some of my favourite bits. They’re not funny in that way, but still brilliant!
Here are some of my favourites:
I love these and I don’t know why. It would be very easy to call his humour ‘dark’, but I’m not sure it is. It is aesthetically adult. There are bits about sex, or about violence or threats. But these aren’t dark thematically. These are just random bits of vignettes of stuff that’s inconsequential.
One of the ways this series works is through the acting. Limond himself is a fantastic natural actor, you tend to believe in him, particularly when playing a version of himself or a man on the street. His ensemble (Paul McCole, Alan McHugh Kristin McLean, Raymond Mearns, Tom Brogan and Debbie Welsh) are also equally natural when they need to be, or cartoonish when that’s appropriate. They deliver the lines, dialogue and movement in a way that seems so natural and so in tune with the work that you hardly notice it. If in the hands of other people the show may not work as well.
If there is a weakness in this show, it isn’t it’s Scottish-ness. Yes, Limmy has an accent. Yes, he uses Glaswegian slang. No, that doesn’t matter if you have google you lazy rotter. But there is, to some degree, a loss in translation, not from Scotland to the rest of the country, but from Limmy’s brain to pretty much everyone else. It is a very specific kind of humour. It is a strange kind of humour that has no certainty. You will not be able to second guess the jokes. You will not be able to identify which part is the joke. It is a comedic anomaly and if you don’t get it… fine. Not everyone will love it, but for some reason, a reason I can’t explain, I do.
I thoroughly recommend watching Limmy’s Show!, as well as his work on his Youtube channel, or his Vine channel, or with Charlie Brooker on Weekly Wipe. Limmy has made something that is nearly perfect in its abnormality. It bamboozles, amuses and another word that I genuinely cannot find, because I’m not sure it exists.
But maybe I’m trippin’.
You can follow James on Twitter. Just don’t expect him to follow back.