You know who Armando Iannucci is, don’t you? I mean, you wouldn’t click a link to such a name if you had no idea who he is? I’d like to take a moment to point out Armando is a very fine name.
If you are visiting this page without any prior knowledge… Congratulations on venturing into the unknown! If you’ve already watched The Armando Iannucci Shows. Good wasn’t it!
But did you know, (no, not you, we’ve already established that you’ve seen it) that Iannucci made a self titled show in 2001?
Wanna hear why it’s still relevant?
Also, I can confirm I’ve said “Iannucci” 4, no, 5 times now. That’s some top stats. You can look forward to more in-depth Iannucci statistics within. 6 times.
Welcome to a television show that was largely forgotten on release, buried beneath the misery of international terrorism, but that’s ok. Thanks to the miserly comedy content offered in recent times, it provides us with the opportunity to revisit strange little oddities such as this. The series a watchable mixture of monologues and skits, prone to taking you on minor adventures.
A good majority of Iannucci’s works have something in common, they mostly deal with the exciting current affairs of the time. Which is great an’ all, but won’t help when you have to explain a Douglas Hurd to your grandchildren. The state of the current political system is a punchline to its own morbid jokes. You don’t need a Thick of It or The Day Today with a Boris Johnson bumbling around. Let’s not ruin our day by talking about the other blonde haired buffoon. The marvellous Time Trumpet will eventually show its age, as the celebrities in question become less relevant to a new generations trash culture.
Note – Satire – “The use of humour into shaming government into improvement”… Hah! My arse!
The Armando Iannucci Shows won’t age quite as swiftly as his more revered works. The episodes are personal and human, based on universal insecurities with titles such as “Imagination” and “Neighbours”. Any series where the first episode is called “Twats” deserve an award.
Talking of the first episode, it is a strange start as it doesn’t immediately introduce the host. Instantly defying what you would expect from a series called “The Armando Iannucci Shows”. Instead a young couple are shown around a beautiful house by an estate agent, only to find a bunch of bastard children have drawn the property and the whole things made from paper. This sets the tone quite nicely. By the end of the episode a bemused Armando has come to the conclusion that “we’re all twats!” as he stands in the middle of a packed bus.
The show displays a type of fearlessness that most mainstream comedies seldom tread. It’s not afraid to use “dead air“, and it’s not afraid to trust the audience to stick with a meandering thought. To lure you in before surprising you with the unexpected.
Armando isn’t afraid of being a bit rubbish or awkward, on the flip-side there’s the wonderful use of confident nonsense language. When most of your themes are based around human insecurities, that contrast makes sense. Are we not all amazing incompetents?
As the introduction proves, the host isn’t the sole instigator of laughs and we are loosely introduced to a solid additional cast. My personal favourite being Hugh, the elderly gentleman wistfully reminiscing about the past.
You could watch the entirety of the above Hugh clip, but it would be wise to enjoy the whole series first. You can always re-watch these gems later. Oh alright, go on then… just don’t tell anyone I said it was ok.
I look forward to the day our generation metamorphoses into Hugh, sitting in our rocking chairs talking about the great Junglist mashups of our time. Now that is a forward thinking show!
To compliment these deranged ramblings, the one-off skits are varied and often prone to a smattering of dark humour, as we enjoy “the Village Sniper”, keeping the joyful townsfolk on their toes and the cheery “stab victims reunion” party. In the hands of another storyteller the series could easily have fallen deep into the bleak dark-comedy pit. Luckily the Iannucci trademarks include a playful touch, expert wordplay, and a confused imagination coupled with mild alienation. The series is not a comment on societies dark underbelly, but more of a peek into life’s absurdities. The show sidesteps any potential cheap or cruel gags, as most laughs are painstakingly earned from unlikely sources.
The series makes a habit of toying with your expectations, as it’s both childish and clever, all at the same time. Perfect structure gives way to flights of fancy. The imagination takes over and the adventure takes us wherever it needs to be. Even if you’re not susceptible to belly laughs, it’s easy to admire the craft and sincerity as the mammoth themes are condensed into half an hours entertainment.
I’m confident fans of Iannucci’s back-catalogue will find something to enjoy here, as this is a treasure trove of great ideas, wrapped in obscurity.
Humans are pretty anxious creatures, prone to making the same mistakes over and over again, which is handy as there’s a good chance The Armando Iannucci Shows will remain entertaining in the years to come.