:— Posse power
A recent brochure ior the Brighton comedy iestlval ieatured the slogan ‘This year we’ve got everything . . .’ They didn’t oi course. The 43 comedians pictured in the brochure were all white.
it’s nothing new. With very iew exceptions the live comedy circuit is a whites-only, male-dominated clique. it’s a situation that has been carried through to TV, where a black lace on a comedy show is about as rare as a priest at lbrox.
A small but valuable change to this state oi aiiairs is about to be made by The Posse: Armed And Bangerous, a one-oii Channel 4 showcase ior the black comedy troupe who originally termed as a tribute to actor Calvin Simpson who died in a road accident two years ago.
‘ilis death touched everybody deeply,’ says Sylvester Williams oi the Posse. ‘And there was a celebration at his liie organised at Stratiord East. A group oi us guys got together and did a sketch called ‘The Best Man’, which was last electrifying.’
Enthusiastic receptions tor the Posse’s occasional get-togethers encouraged them to ionn a regular base at Stratiord East and develop a show oi sketches and comedy based on their experiences as black actors in a cut-throat business. ‘We realised we gelled together, and bounced ideas
’1 .. The Posse - gtnurin’ tor yer oii each other really well,’ says Willians.
Tired oi waiting ior the phone to ring, The Posse took their career into their own hands. ‘We took the reins, decided to drive the chariot oi creative iorce tor ourselves,’ Williams says with a laugh. And it paid oii, with a two-week sell-out at Stratiord East. Channel 4 came to them with the oiier at a TV slot, and a series is in the citing. Along with the BBC’s The Real McCoy it’s a welcome showcase ior young black talent. ‘The Posse has been rounded up to go after the bad guys,’ says Williams, ‘the Arts Council who won’t tree up enough money, the broadcasters who won’t tree up enough money. We do see it as a case oi there is no justice, just us.’ (Tom tannin)
The Posse - Armed And Dangerous is on Channel 4 on Friday 21 May.
The title oi Glasgow’s iunniest man is up for grabs at the moment, what with Connolly doing sickly Yank sitcoms and push Coltrane making derivative documentaries about the States. Bruce Morton stakes his claim in a brand-new Channel 4 series, Sin With Bruce Morton, a no-irills iour-part meander through the mineiield oi vice and Its repercussions.
The TV series was demoed, so to spedt at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe (where it picked up a Perrier nomination). ‘The producer in Sergeant was there working on the scripts,’ he says, ‘taklng notes and oiiering hints. Those gigs were the vehicle to get the TV material. Because there are compromises you have to make ior television. It you mention an Orange band, you have to think about how that’s going to go down with a viewer in Somerset. A lot at material’s got lost along the way, but that’s ll.’
In this case the trimming has sharpened up Morton’s set considerably. The shows are pacy, pointed and packed with memorable lines. The only question mark relates to current iashlon in TV comedy, where the zany or surreal have recently supplanted the one man and his material approach.
‘My attitude has always been that there’s no great need to tart comedy up,’ he explains. ‘Whatever I’ve done
lnthelastthreeyearsorsohasbeen quite simple and spartan. I see no need to get involved in anything other than storytelling or joke-telling. I’m not a good actor so i don’t do characterisation, and I’ve never ielt the urge to do sketch shows.’
Sin suggests he doesn’t need to start angling ior a slot on Les Dennis’s show just yet. Word has it that Channel 4 are more than a little chuiied with Morton, and there’s already talk oi another series, although the sublect matter must remain strictly hush-hush. ‘l’m such a slow writer that some bastard is sure to steal the idea beiore I get round to it.’
Sin With Bruce Morton is on Channel 4 on Wednesday 2 June at 10.30pm.
V TV REVIEW
According to The Sun. Sylvania Waters (BBCl) was picking up almost 20 million viewers when it was shown in Australia. That’s some achievement considering the last census showed a population of around 16 million and they were all watching Jeopardy anyway.
What Sylvania Waters does reveal to UK viewers is the ﬁipside to Neighbours, the materialistic. smug, casually moist aspect to Sydney's afﬂuent harbour-hugging suburbs. Australia‘s true housewife superstar Noeline Donaher is plastered over the front of every Antipodean women’s magazine at the moment claiming she was misrepresented, but it's difﬁcult to imagine how the ﬁy-on-the-wall team could induce her to make contemptuous comments about orientals, gush greedin about her good fortune and threaten her teenage son with a wooden spoon (unless they slipped her a few extra dollars, Noeline being under no illusions about the value of a buck). In truth the cameras can edit like hell but can't conceal the fact that Noeline is Madge Bishop from Hell, live-in
I boyfriend Laurie a feckless spendthrift
with a fate-tempting fondness for dangerous sports cars, and the offspring a kind of parallel universe Home And Away cast. neurotic. unattractive and vulgar. The show is shameless. addictive voyeurism and the most compelling thing to come out of New South Wales since Captain Cook sailed up the Thames with the ﬁrst crate of Castlemaine XXXX and a natty pair of crocodile-skin loafers.
You can tell how it made such a splash in Australia though, 02 TV being a singularly stagnant pond. A
, recent ﬂeeting visit (fuelled by
Toohey‘s Red and some of the worst pies seen this side of Leith Walk) enabled me to experience at ﬁrst hand the sheer horror of wall-to-wall prime- time Oz-soap intermingled with the occasional dollar-frenzied game-show and Lottery draw. Current affairs consists of a stream of interchangeable pouty blonde sorts called Raeline or Dawn gazing adorineg at gently perspiring avuncular anchormen as they whizz through the headlines. Public service announcements featured a terrifying leathery chap bellowing ‘lf yor drink 'n’ drive yer a bloody idiot.’ By way of light relief, Pamela
Stephenson presents a show frankly and cheerfully called Sex which, judging by the soundless excerpt I caught in a shady pub (honest guv), features close-ups of female genitalia being hosed down with unidentiﬁed liquids on a reasonably regular basis. Followed by two episodes of The Bill . . .
Back in Blighty, Sean Bean is about to be seen addressing tender lines to assorted bits of 10er Richardson ‘3 anatomy in the BBC’s dramatisation of Lady Chaiterley's Lover (it's a dirty job but somebody has to do it). in the meantime Bean fans will have to make do with the laughably over-the-top costume drama Sharpe (Scottish), :1 Napoleonic swashbuckler ﬁxated with class.
‘The show is shameless, addictive voyeurism and the most compelling thing to come out oi New South Wales since Captain Cook sailed up the Thames with the iirst crate oi Castlemaine XXXX.’
This is a moderately expensive (although shooting in the Crimea and nicking the wardrobe from War And Peace saved a bomb on location costs) Central TV production whose values just scream ‘overseas sales ﬁrst'. Firstly there‘s that annoying letterbox format that leaves gaping black lines at the top and bottom ofthe screen. This is either to ﬁt in with hi-tech overseas equipment (unjustiﬁed because Central’s primary job is to provide programmes for domestic audiences — let the foreigners make their own adjustments) or because the director wants to impress on us that he’s really a cinema man only slumming it in TV drama (in which case sack the pretentious idiot).
Secondly Sharpe's ass was saved on a couple of transatlantic audience- friendly occasions by an ofﬁcer with a distinctly American accent, while his fellow Brits were presented as a bunch of amoral inbred idiots. Now that may or may not be historically accurate, but having characters uttering lines like ‘your mind’s making appointments your body can‘t keep, Sharpe’ probably isn't. (Tom Lappin)
54 The List 21 May-3 June 1993