Thursday, December 24, 2009

Could America Get A Clue?

Here is my recap of episode three, broadcast November 30, 2009:

Opening: “We present I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, the antidote to panel games. At the piano is Colin Sell, and your chairman is Jack Dee.”

Recorded At: Festival Theater, Chichester

Panelists: On Jack’s left, Barry Cryer and Graeme Garden. On Jack’s right, Tim Brooke-Taylor and David Mitchell.

Scorer: “And settling down on my left hand, please welcome our delightful scorer, the ever-lovely Samantha.”

Game One: Undelivered Letters That, If They Had Been Delivered, May Have Changed The Course Of History
“Dear Moses, I’m writing to seek compensation for the damage done by your unruly children of Israel. Last Saturday night they caused a great nuisance marching around the town about seven times playing trumpets and I don’t know what. To cap it all, they did severe damage to our ice cream parlor. Yours truly, Walls of Jericho.”

Game Two: One Song To The Tune Of Another
Jack: “We have to apologize to anyone who thought they’d got tickets to Colin’s last concert – turns out it wasn’t.” No convoluted explanation, though.

Game Three: Who Am I?
You know that game where they tape a card to your back with the name of a famous person, and you have to ask yes\no questions to figure out who it is? Well...I won’t spoil the punch line here.

Game Four: One pair of panelists must outline their unusual medical condition (displayed to the audience via the laser display screen) to the other two, who have to figure out what it is.

Game Five: The panelists must play announcers introducing TV and radio shows chosen purely on the basis of a catchy title.
“And later on Radio 4 today, Dale Winton goes to visit the Yorkshire Dales…or does he? Dale Or No Dale.”

Game Six: One pair of panelists is calling a help line to get their money back; the other two are the operators.

Game Seven: Gardener’s Film Club (including Bring Me The Hedge Of Alfredo Garcia…and way, way too many lawn mower jokes.)

Closing: “Barry Cryer, Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor and David Mitchell were being given silly things to do by Jack Dee, with Colin Sell setting some of them to music. The program consultant was Iain Pattinson, and the producer was Jon Naismith.”

That's episode three! Now, I once sent an email to ISIHAC's official email address asking if they would consider doing some tapings in America. Jon Naismith sent me an very kind reply, but one that essentially summed up what I already knew - that (A) nobody in America knows what ISIHAC is, and (B) even if he wanted to tape in America, it's ultimately not his decision - the BBC has a separate department for selling shows to other countries. In retrospect, of course, I had taken the wrong angle. The British version of ISIHAC is never going to do a taping in America - but could there be an American version? Could radio game shows be exported the way television game shows are?

I like to think some could - for example, Just A Minute and The News Quiz seem to me to be such straightforward concepts that they'd work in any country if you found the right host and panelists. ISIHAC is a different story. Quite frankly, I wonder how it was even launched in Britain, as the show on now seems to me to be very reliant on being an institution, and on running jokes that have been in place for decades.

An American version, obviously, would have to be a very different show. As much as it pains me to say this, you can't import the running jokes - can you imagine Hamish and Dougal becoming rednecks, or Mornington Crescent being played using New York subway stops instead of London? In short, and even though I must have done it somehow, I have no idea how a new listener is supposed to get into ISIHAC, and that means it wouldn't work in another country. I have this horrible vision of an American ISIHAC taping where the audience is given preprinted sheets telling them when to laugh.

See you next week,


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