One of many things I love about Twitter is the way it has democratised comedy. I don’t know about you but I’m not all that fond of all those seemingly endless list of ‘funny’ television panel shows.
I’m stating the obvious when I say that these are obvious vehicles for comedians, but so much of their comedy seems to be about them showing off. Or perhaps it’s just that I don’t get the whole appeal of many of the performers. (Yes, Jimmy Carr: particularly you!)
There’s one notable exception to my list of Panel Show Hell and that Have I Got News For You, which has improved immeasurably since Angus Deayton’s departure led to the host post being rotated. Since then the show has enjoyed a renaissance, partly down to the fact that the eclectic mix of hosts has included faces not best known for doing straight comedy including, notably, Damien Lewis (see my blog about him here), William Shatner, Brian Blessed and Martin Clunes (who is a very funny man, but more of that later).
One vital part of HIGNFY’s appeal is also it two excellent regulars Ian Hislop. Hislop is able to switch from sharp-witted humourist to a highly effective Paxman-esque and incisive interviewer is a joy to behold (and his face when he laughs is just brilliant).
And, of course, there is Paul Merton, still one of our most original comedians – and a man who doesn’t just take a sideways looks at a subject, he seems to do it back-to-front at the same time. His randomness is very appealing but most of all, it is deadpan delivery and look of ‘what have I said that’s funny?’ as opposed to many comedians whose smart-arse witticisms seem to be accompanied by a ‘look at me – aren’t I funny…’ delivery.
Sadly Paul Merton doesn’t seem to be active on Twitter and nor is Martin Clunes, who is not only one of the most naturally funny men I’ve ever met, but also happens to be one of the nicest and down-to-earth actors in the business. Devoid of airs and graces, he’s just got a natural wit – and it’s a real shame he’s not on Twitter as he’d be brilliant.
Paul and Martin’s absence from Twitter is a shame – and they are probably the two famous people I’d most like to see tweeting.
Of course being funny on screen in a funny show doesn’t mean the performer is funny in themselves. For their lines are written by other people. For Men Behaving Badly writer Simon Nye penned the lines for Martin and his co-star Neil Morrissey. And while, as I’ve said, Martin is naturally a very funny man away from the cameras, I can’t, in my experience, say the same for Neil Morrissey.
One famous face who has taken to Twitter like a duck to water is John Challis, who is, of course, famous as Boycie in Only Fools and Horses. John is just himself on Twitter: funny, honest, at times outspoken and intelligent. He is a naturally a decent, funny and straight-talking man and that comes across. Follow him on Twitter here. (He’s also got two great books out which you can buy from www.wigmorebooks.com
As I said earlier, the beauty of Twitter is the way it has democratised comedy. Everyone can chip in and for me it is that fact and the randomness of it all that is a key part of the appeal. To that end I’d like to chip in with a few suggestions for people to follow. They aren’t famous, but they are very funny:
First is Pat Chapman (This is a link to his twitter page). He’s a postman from Hertfordshire (Yes, I know a real Postman Pat) and he’s a very funny man (Warning: he puns a lot). Secondly there’s Paul Jackson (Find him here) a paramedic (and an excellent photographer) from Yorkshire and a naturally witty and smart man. There are many other funny people on Twitter (and please forgive me for only mentioning three here) …. including Dave Haustead (@seagull60) whose tweet from last year in response to my “hope everyone’s had a good day” still makes me smile. “I got all the way to Kent (from Brighton) only to find out I’d taken the telly remote to work instead of my works mobile #bad”
Let me know what you think… and who you’d like to see on Twitter….