Last night I witnessed a small piece of television history when BBC3 aired, without question, the worst comedy pilot they have ever made. Bearing in mind this channel has produced more abysmal comedy pilots than a flying school for suicidal clowns, that's quite an achievement.
The aptly named Laughter Shock was quite stunning in its awfulness, so much so that it almost felt like an angry satire on everything that's wrong with modern British comedy. But no, it was real. Horribly, painfully real.
This jaw-dropping travesty was intended as a showcase for over a dozen young comedians, all labouring under the misapprehension that all you need for a successful career in stand-up is amplification and a larynx. Performing live in front of a trapped audience, this smorgasbord of hacks were each given just a minute to make their mark. This, clearly, is an insane way to present stand-up comedy on television, but in this case it was a blessing.
Even in heavily edited form, they were among the most atrocious stand-ups I have ever seen. Lowlights included a loud woman talking solely about her hair, an idiot doing an impersonation of a dinosaur (because his last girlfriend was so old), a "token middle-class white boy" illustrating his cleverness by using the word "semantically" and sneering at people's Amazon reviews, and a hopeless berk performing an excruciating routine about the many hilarious uses for a towel. That he did this while aping the vocal mannerisms of Michael McIntyre merely compounded the horror.
As if all of this wasn't bad enough, the stand-up was interspersed with amateurish sketches ranging from charmless whimsy to uninspired riffs on youth culture and race, and a truly appalling attempt at Chris Morris-like edginess set in a woman's lavatory.
Comedy, like any craft, requires practice and experience before it can be mastered, so if I was feeling charitable I'd concede that perhaps these newcomers were simply ill-prepared for such exposure. Having said that, none of them showed the slightest bit of potential, and I'm staggered that even BBC3 - where new comedy frequently goes to die - thought this fit for broadcast.Paul Whitelaw, The Scotsman, 2nd April 2010
Good to see a comedy showcasing genuine unknowns - and hopefully the fact the bright young things featured here have come good at various competitions around the country means we'll be in safe hands, sort of. The show features live stand-up and pre-filmed sketches screened in front of an audience.Metro, 31st March 2010
Often, TV comedy is a slow-moving carousel of the same old, established names. So welcome this pilot, which gives young comics a shop window for their stand-up and sketches. Do you know any of these names? Naz Osmanoglu, Joe Lycett, Imran Yusuf, Lou Sanders, Jason Patterson, Joanne Lau, Ben Sarpong, Eric Lampaert, Victor Daniels, Amy Hoggart, Price Abdi, Annette Fagon, Sarah Campbell? Me neither. Most of them are unknown for a reason, but shows like this only have to find one likely future star: my money's on Miss London.Jack Seale, Radio Times, 31st March 2010
With the Damoclean threat of BBC funding cuts being waved above Auntie's channels and stations, this new-talent comedy seems just the kind of show it should be investing in to justify its existence. Here lie sketches and standup from a cast of young comics, including last year's Chortle student comic of the year, Joe Lycett, and others including Joanne Lau, Imran Yusuf and Sarah Campbell.The Guardian, 31st March 2010