MONTH END PROCESSING FOR MAY 2011
Music: I still insist that I Just Had Sex is my favourite single of 2011 to date: now The Lonely Island have a new album out, Turtleneck And Chain, that's almost as good. Any album of comedy songs is inevitably going to have its weak spots, but the best material more than makes up for those - the cheery tale of a boxing match with Rocky, the rapid slide into degeneracy of the After Party, and Michael Bolton's delightful ruining of Jack Sparrow. As with their previous effort, Incredibad, there's a bundled DVD with eight of their excellent videos, but once again the songs are strong enough to stand up without visuals. In fact, one of the best numbers (Japan) is funny simply because they can't make a video of it. Or can they?
Telly: I've been a bit sniffy about Sky Atlantic since it started, complaining that it's only ever had two decent shows - Boardwalk Empire and Treme - and both of those are finished now. Granted, some of that sniffiness may be because as a Virgin Media cable subscriber I can't get Sky Atlantic, and have to borrow The BBG's telly if I want to watch any of their programmes. But I'll have to confess that Bored To Death has pushed their number of decent shows up to three (although, as with the other two, it's just finished its first season in the UK). Based on the writings of Jonathan Ames, it's about a struggling writer called, erm, Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman) trying to hold down a second job as an amateur private detective. His friends - comic book artist Ray (Zach Galifianakis) and magazine editor George (Ted Danson) - share his love of marijuana, and there's a gently stoned vibe to their low-key adventures, with some big laughs along the way. It's especially nice that someone's finally found something else Ted Danson can do well. I saw season two on a plane recently, and it keeps up the quality level with the added bonus of some unexpected cameo appearances. Including one from, erm, Jonathan Ames.
Theatre: I couldn't sell it to The Belated Birthday Girl at all. One Man, Two Guvnors (currently playing at the National Theatre in London, then touring) is a farce, which is one of her least favourite theatrical forms ever: and it stars James Corden, whom she was calling a fat fuck years before it became fashionable. But the combination of the two works surprisingly well for me. Richard Bean (who previously wrote England People Very Nice for the same theatre) has taken the 18th century Italian farce The Servant Of Two Masters and transferred it to 1960s Brighton, while keeping the basic plot points intact: a scheming and hungry servant, a blackmail plot involving cross-dressing and murder, and the odd bit of audience participation. The National should just give Bean a panto to write this Christmas, because that's more or less what he turns One Man into. But it's a damn funny one, with lots of terrible jokes performed at high speed by a cast giving it their all. Get to the Lyttleton early for a bit of a bonus.