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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Monday 2nd January 2012

In one of his routines the Australian comedian, Tim Minchin, talks about the way that everybody has ‘a line’ when it comes to subjects that are acceptable to them for use in comedy. He maintains that even the most open-minded of people, who profess to liking broad, edgy comedy, will suddenly find themselves offended when their personal ‘line’ is crossed.

I’ve always been aware that there are some things I just don’t find funny and, if I’m watching one of those late-night comedy programmes that starts with the continuity announcer talking about ‘strong language, adult themes and scenes of a sexual nature’ I realise that I may find something offensive but that is my fault for ignoring the warning.

What I don’t expect is that my ‘line’ will be completely crashed through during the lightest of light entertainment shows on at primetime on ITV1, a channel not known for its boundary-breaking programmes.

‘It’ll be Alright on the Night’ was the first ever ‘outtake’ or ‘blooper’ show and, for many years it was a staple of the ITV schedule, first as a weekly series and then, in later years, as a seasonal special. Partly because of all the other blooper shows that TV channels latched onto as a source of reasonably cheap programming, it disappeared for a time but this year ITV1 showed two programmes over the holiday period with Griff Rhys Jones as the anchor.

In the second programme, available until the end of January from ITV’s Player one of the clips was from the US version of the show known in the UK as ‘Family Fortunes’.

To make sure I’ve can quote word for word what followed I’ve been over the recording a number of times. (It comes 20:25 into the online version but I don’t think you can jump straight to it because the ITV Player forces you to watch the ads.)

After the clip, Jones explained that the US version was called ‘Family Feud’ and went on to say ‘In Mexico, it’s called ‘Drive-by Family Feud’ and got a moderate laugh. Then he said ‘It’s on just after ‘Deal or No Legs and ‘Who Wants to be an Orphan?’ This line got such a big laugh that the director cut to an audience reaction shot showing about a dozen people with a man in the centre almost helpless with laughter.

I’ve written before 11th December about the way the terrible death toll in Mexico’s ‘war on drug cartels’ just keeps on rising and is, to a large extent ignored by the news media. But I hadn’t realised that the deaths of over 54,000 people, many of whom had no criminal involvement in the drugs trade, was such an hilarious subject.

A couple of years ago, Jeremy Clarkson and the other presenters of ‘Top Gear’ got into trouble when the Mexican ambassador complained about them joking that Mexicans were lazy and that he wouldn’t be watching the show because he would be sleeping.

‘It’ll be Alright on the Night’ was broadcast on 31st December but, so far, it seems, no-one else has seen anything offensive in Jones’ comments and the director’s admiration for them.

I’ll end this blog entry here because I’m really just too angry to continue.