If I told you that the title of the programme should have the letters “Sh” at the start, you’d probably think I wasn’t very funny. Well that’s how funny “The IT Crowd” is. I wanted to give up after ten minutes but lasted to the end for the same reason people rubber-neck car crashes.
My six year old son reads me funnier knock-knock jokes from his “My first book of knock-knock jokes” than Graham Linehan came up with for this embarassment of a comedy. I watched some of the set-ups with my jaw on the floor “he is not seriously going to do the ‘person talking into the telephone that isn’t connected’ routine is he?” - oh god he just did. Not only that but five minutes later “no, no way, he cannot now be following this with the ‘person typing on the computer that isn’t plugged in’ routine, can he”, you betcha!
The acting is pretty dreadful but not as bad as the writing. We have the annoying mucker from “The Clinic” hamming it up and desperately over-acting in an attempt to make the thing funny. And we have someone else trying to do his version of a variety of “Fast Show” characters. They even attempted some slap-stick humour. At this point I nearly switched over to a documentary on the hibernation habits of the Greenland lesser spotted egret. I can see this show getting punted to 11pm very very quickly.
They also roped Chris Morris into a small role on it. But that’s hardly surprising as he hasn’t been in anything remotely funny since Brass Eye (Jam or Nathan Barley anyone? No I didn’t think so). I nearly forgot to mention the canned laughter. Oh dear god, the canned laughter. Imagine the laughter track from worst 1970’s sitcom possible but now imagine it with a deaf and blind person deciding when to insert the laughter. Who did they use for this? “Discount Eddie’s Quick Lube and Sound Studio”?
This is not a rant from a techie who cringed about the RTFM t-shirt or the ZX81 reference in the programme. This is a rant from someone who loves great TV comedy. Graham Linehan was responsible for one classic TV series - “Father Ted”, one good TV Series - “Black Books” and a pair of awful ones - “Big Train”, “Paris”. Did they just throw a bunch of money at him to make “The IT Crowd” and he sent this in for a bet? Maybe doing his own version of “The Producers”? Or maybe he was the writer in “Father Ted” who, when they could have come up with something witty to say in many of the scenes, said, “nah, let’s just insert a few feck, drink, girls, lines instead”.
When the US is giving us fabulous comedy writing in “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, “Arrested Development”, “My Name is Earl” and even a great re-write in the American “Office” (‘Blue-Collar, White-Collar, I’m collar-blind’. Genius!), is this really the best that Channel 4 can drag out of the swamp?