Those of you who haven’t been paying attention to Sport Relief (which is like Comic Relief with more running and climbing) missed out on a series of what this article generously describes as ‘comic skits’ featuring Gavin and Stacey‘s James Corden.
In what the same article actually describes as a ‘hilarious skit’, Corden is seen with David Beckham wearing fluffy dressing gowns, preening, arranging flowers and sitting in bed crying at the video of Scott and Charlene’s wedding. The joke is that they’re gay.
In another ‘comic skit’, Corden is seen beating Andy Murray at tennis, returning the ball while doing other things like talking on his mobile phone and reading. The joke is that Andy Murray is actually really good at tennis.
In another, we see Corden running a warm-up for the Manchester United squad. The joke is… um… well, I haven’t actually worked out what the joke is in this one; I thought it might be that James Corden is a fat man doing a warm-up, but I think that’s kind of more his comedy gimmick than a joke in itself.
Yeah, it pisses me off that under the guise of charity we’re supposed to find these ‘comic skits’ funny purely because there are famous sporting people involved when none of them rise above the level of Jeremy Beadle’s Hot Shots (you remember, the show where the public sent in their home made films to the delight of the ex-grinning bearded loony) (in fact, I’m pretty sure I remember seeing the tennis skit on that); but I’ll have to live with it because it seems such skits are the staple of any charity event (though why people can’t just give the money to charity and watch proper TV beats me).
But I have genuine concerns about the undertones of the Beckham sketch, especially in a sports-related event basically aimed at children. I’d describe it as homophobic, except that it’s too shoddily put together to be deliberate – but what are we actually supposed to be laughing at, given the lack of actual jokes? Presumably it is simply the fact that two men are acting like they’re in a relationship (two men in a bed? but that’s crazy!!!) and are also being, like, really gay (flower arranging?! but they’re men!!!). Moreover, one of them is a famous footballer – and it’s not like a footballer could be gay, is it?!? I mean, that would be ridiculous!!!
So in the name of a good cause, let’s lazily reinforce a few stereotypes, both of gay people (like flower arranging, cry at Neighbours) and of sportsmen (actually really butch, actually never gay) and on those grounds put it out as a ‘hilarous comic skit’ for the delight of all children except the one who likes flower arranging because he’s going to go through the rest of his school life being called ‘gay’ and not being allowed to join in with games of football.
At the same time, James Corden is praised for his humanitarian efforts and lauded as a comic icon, which probably makes him good for another sketch show as far as the BBC is concerned, when it’s clear he hasn’t got an original idea in his head or a funny bone in his body. And before you protest that you love Gavin and Stacey: when people rave about Gavin and Stacey they invariably invoke Rob Brydon or some hilarious Welsh accent or this really funny thing that a Welsh person did. The Welsh bits are the Stacey bits. James Corden writes the Gavin bits. The Gavin bits aren’t funny.
How many James Cordens would it take to pay for BBC6 music? I’m thinking not many. And that, friends, is a fucking travesty.