‘Roast Battle’ – Comedy Central

Comedy roast are not all that common in the UK, despite this being the home of the Archbishop of Banterbury, Bantom of the Opera and the Bantersaurus Rex (lads! lads! lads!). While we’re very much at home with taking the piss out of each other in the pub, the playground and all-office emails, this kind of vicious verbal sparring in front of an audience is a format that we’re just not used to in merry old England. We leave that to the Americans, and a proud history they have of it too. Instantly this new Comedy Central show is a bit out of step for the British audience looking for funnies, with a post-apocalyptic set, macho gunshot sound track, and the studio audience expected to shout and point as well as drink and laugh. It’s all a bit too much to believe we can multitask like this.

I love stand-up comedy, on tv and especially live (shout out to the excellent Fat Penguin¬†club nights in Birmingham – if you’re in the Midlands check them out), but I turned this on and watched it through my fingers. I didn’t was this format to fail, but it was bound to be a disaster, right? As The Guardian said “Roast battles and insult comedy? No thanks, we’re British”. But despite the silly gunshot noises and the heavy reliance on Paper Planes by MIA, the battles themselves were not as aggressive as I’d thought. If anything the style is collaborative; usually solo comics acting as a team, building on each other’s jokes, laughing at themselves and visibly enjoying the experience. I was all set to hate it but the four comedians in the first episode did such a good job they quickly won me over.

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‘Morgana Robinson’s The Agency’ – On the Box

Morgana Robinson is a famous face that you might not recognise. Such is the life of a telly impersonator. She was excellent as Julie the odd-ball seductress in Vic and Bob’s House of Fools, ‘Puppah’ Middleton in The Windsors and in painfully funny Sky Arts sketch show Psychobitches (more of all of those please!).

In The Agency she plays all the characters on the books at Mann Talent Agency. These celebrities are helpfully named in the opening credits for those of us who a) don’t watch Eastenders or b) don’t think she looks much like Greg Wallace (but then really that’s no bad thing). She’s unusual because she brings both female and male stars to life with equal aplomb. You can see she’s studied their movements and mannerisms just as closely as their voices.

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