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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Tuesday Twat(s)

Number 33. Jennifer Saunders


I toyed with the idea of dedicating this to French and Saunders, however Dawn French has redeemed herself somewhat with The Vicar of Dibley, and her fantastic turn in the black comedy series Murder most Horrid.

Jennifer Saunders is NOT funny. Sorry if you disagree, but she is weak and puerile. French and Saunders hasn't been funny for over a decade, yet still they get trotted out every christmas. The problem is, they take a sketch that is moderately amusing, wring all of the comic potential out of it within the first 60 seconds, the keep on flogging what is now a dead horse for several minutes by becoming increasingly absurd. Saunders typically takes the role of the slightly mad woman, and simply gets more shrill and outrageous (not in a funny way) over the course of the sketch. It is a formula that she has thrashed repeatedly in shows such as Absolutely Fabulous. Her character was amusing for the first few episodes but long became predictable. Perhaps the only saving grace of that show is Joanna Lumley, who gets all the best lines and acts as the witty foil to Saunders overblown stupidity.

The trigger for this Twat award is the reappearance of Saunders in a series of BarclayCard adverts. In it she plays (you guessed it) a deranged bipolar woman who lurches between calm and screaming as her card is stolen as she travels in oh so funny foreign countries. In the first advert she is upstaged by a monkey as the ignorant 3rd world natives carrying livestock on the bus stare on in bemusement (no doubt wondering who the fuck the rude, patronising white woman is). In the second, she, oh so amusingly becomes the victim of internet fraud in (where else?) a Japanese cyber cafe. Naturally, she is being watched by that tired cliche, kinkily dressed Japanese school girls, giggling with their hands over their mouths.

Saunders' "comic" trademark is that of someone who is perpetually bemused and over stressed and usually ends in her running around shouting. A typical French and Saunders sketch is reminiscent of a last minute secondary school comedy sketch. Constant mugging to the camera in the hope that someone will laugh, and when that fails just being plain stupid.

Give it up Jennifer. You had novelty value in the 80s when there were woefully few female comedians, but you will never have the wit and cleverness of Victoria Wood or the delightfull crudeness of Jenny Eclair or Jo Brand. And please, BBC, don't commission yet another of those toe-curlingly embarrasing Christmas specials, where F&S spoof this year's Hollywod blockbuster. Titanic was bad. Lord of the Rings worse, and Harry Potter unwatchable.





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