I’ve been looking forward to writing this one again! Channel 4’s new hidden-camera prank show I’m Spazticus continued tonight and it still seems to be splitting opinion, as opposed to sides.
I tend not to go on Twitter to see what people are saying about a show I’m going to review, out of fear I’ll be influenced by others’ views, rather than just expressing my own. However, after I’d uploaded my review of I’m Spazticus last night, I did go on the site to see what the reaction was. Immediately I saw many tweets from writer Jonathan Harvey saying he didn’t like the show and didn’t really find it funny. Now, Jonathan wrote the quite risqué and rude Gimme Gimme Gimme – which confirmed my point that I didn’t have to be a prude not to like I’m Spazticus.
I then received a tweet in agreement with my review so I knew I had struck a chord with some people. However, I woke up this morning to find that I had also received a tweet from Simon Stevens, the man with cerebal palsy who starred in the sketch I mainly objected to in my review last night – the one focusing on an identity parade. The main reason for Simon’s tweet was to clarify that I’m Spazticus isn’t here to change perceptions but to simply create comedy with disabled people being prominent. The reason I said that the show is out to change perceptions is because I read an article in which blind actor and I’m Spazticus star Tim Gebbels basically said he had plans to stop people being “scared” of disability. That is where my misconception stemmed from and I’m sorry that I got it wrong. I told Simon that the first episode simply didn’t appeal to me and perhaps I’d become more of a fan when I watched tonight’s instalment. And I’m pleased to say: I am warming to it.
ONLY A SLIGHT DISCOMFORT
I certainly didn’t feel the discomfort that I did when watching the first episode. I mean, I cringed a little at the sketch involving Tim Gebbels attempting to hand over the Olympic torch to a woman who’d had her hands amputated but that was the intended reaction, wasn’t it? I’m sure I’m Spazticus is meant to make the viewer cringe a smidgen in places. It definitely became more obvious to me by watching tonight’s show – and by receiving Steven’s clarification earlier – that the comedy stems from the able-bodied ‘victims’ of the pranks’ reactions, not the performers themselves. I liked Max – the dwarf – pretending to be a guard, it was just as funny on this episode as it was on the first. Also, Tim – the blind performer – having his letter read out by a bemused man at his door, revealing he had a series of STDs was very good and I felt so sorry for the woman who thought actor Peter Mitchell being stuck in his wheelchair in a tree after an alleged parachuting accident was genuine and was at pains to get help. I mean, seriously: who would believe that that was a real incident if they saw it in the street? Apart from that woman, of course.
There are still some weaknesses to I’m Spazticus, however, I feel. The sketches in it make me raise a smile but seldom laugh. I think if it hadn’t been for the creators tapping into the niche of disability in comedy, it wouldn’t stand out in the prank or hidden-camera show genre.
Some sketches are dragged out, too. Take the ‘Gnome-o-gram’ skit, for example. That was a brilliant visual joke when it started but became quite monotonous when we kept revisiting it to find that not a lot had changed. Ditto for the ‘Fenton’ sketch which ended both last night’s and tonight’s show by lampooning the infamous ‘FENTON!’ YouTube clip. In these, we see one of the I’m Spazticus performers racing after their dog (or in Tim Gebbel’s case his ‘Guide Dwarf’…don’t ask). Last night, we only had one but tonight we had two versions of this. When I first saw it in the opening episode, I found it funny. When I watched it in tonight’s show, though, I thought it was a little less funny as it didn’t differ a lot from the previous one. The one saving grace with it ending tonight’s show was that it had a twist, with Tim chasing after his aforementioned ‘Guide Dwarf’…and then dropping the C-word at the end! I didn’t expect that!
So, I enjoyed tonight’s show a little more but I still think it’s got a little way to go before it can fully establish itself. I hope it can – it has potential.
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