As we said in the last blog, it’s hard to be clever and funny at the same time but The Day Today is very clever and very, very funny.
Clever in that it perfectly captures the self-importance of the media; funny because it is able to use footage of a slowly nodding Chris Patten to deliver a punchline and declare a war.
Clever because it uses the tics and rhythms of the vox pop, the political interview and the sports report as a frame for surreal fantasy or character meltdown; funny because Peter O’Hanraha-hanrahan lost the news.
Clever because it nails the production values, graphics, cuts and edits of UK news coverage; funny because Coogan’s spokesperson speaks through a helium balloon to declare Sinn Fien a legitimate political party.
Clever because it also casts its net wider to capture the production values, graphics, cuts and edits of US news coverage, even down to the graphics font and the grainier, less pixalated film; funny because Barbara Wintergreen is able to deliver her trademark pout to camera as convicted mass murderer Chapman Baxter’s suede shoes turn blue.
(courtesy of @phtsttmchn)
Clever because news coverage is by no means its sole focus but a launching pad for a gloriously random range of targets, from gangsta rap to grunge, from crap soaps to dreary Brit documentaries (see the swimming pool sketches, the greatest sit com that never was). Funny because Conor Hammil pleads: ‘Is this cool?’
(courtesy of @Thejournalofmed)
Pop Lifer could go on.
Judging by the comments of readers, so could you. But if we were to try and note down every gag, every character and every detail that makes “The Day Today” genius, well, we’re gonna need a bigger blog. Pop Lifer can’t think of any sketch show – for that’s what The Day Today is primarily, under the flash and satire – which is so consistently good at hitting the target, so varied, so inventive, so sharp and so ceaselessly, consistently, enduringly hilarious.
Chris Morris’ alpha male ego with its violent contrasts dominates – snarling and looming, he is ready to explode, crumple into a smile or humiliate a guest depending on which particular mania flits through his ego. Its a truly bravura comic performance. Jeremy Paxman’s career proved to be very resilient, though his consistent pleading in interviews that he is not really a sneering bully did seem to date from around this time.
Morris is buffeted by surreal graphics, nonsensical philosophising, ugly flirting, ineptitude and, of course, Alan Partridge, who manages to display all of the above. The cast of Morris, Front, Schneider, Marber, Coogan and Mackichan perform a staggering range of characters, often perfecting a tone and character which could support a sitcom but which may only occupy the screen for barely 30 seconds. “The Day Today” endures because of the breadth of its content and the depth of its quality; writing, performance, production, graphics and design all carefully crafted and delivered to perfection.
“The Day Today” remains relevant because not only did it stretch the various TV production techniques of the early 1990s into brilliant comedy, but TV, and especially news coverage, went on to oblige the show with the greatest compliment of all; imitation. The news became more like “The Day Today” and remains so; the rolling 24 hour networks accidentally and continually reveal the pompous, desperate veneer “The Day Today” picks at. From interviews with taxi drivers with the same name as academic experts, to embedded war reporters, to melodramatic expanding sets,”The Day Today” feels like it could have been made yesterday because it is actually remade every day.
Right now a sports reporter is shrugging off the rain, a desperate glint in his eye wanting more; while an anchor prepares a needlessly hard line of questioning for a homeless charity’s press officer.
A second series wasn’t produced and wasn’t necessary, much as rabid DT fanatics might have wanted one. Instead we are left with 3 hours of the greatest parody – no, comedy – ever made, a thing of joy until we live in a world where the news is delivered to us without pomp and circumstance, without flash and absurdity. A thing of joy forever, in other words.
And though the Day Today didn’t go on, it’s talent did, as our next blogs will chart with glee.
Do send your favourite jokes to us and at a later point we may run a part 2 – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us at @poplifer or just comment below. Speak your brains. Fact us til we fart.