Favorite Finds: Never Mind the Buzzcocks

This week has been a rough one, and personally I can only focus on the lightest and fluffiest fare.  Luckily I’ve recently been devouring a TV show which provides exactly that – and if you, too, need a little goofy diversion, it’s easily available. 

I’d been vaguely aware of the UK show Never Mind the Buzzcocks for years – it’s been running since 1996, so it crops up every now and then in articles, conversations and the like.  However, all I knew was that it was a British music quiz show featuring British celebrities, so I figured I’d only catch about half the references.

Then, a few months back, while reading a discussion about Doctor Who and what one might expect in the 50th Anniversary year, people began referring to an old episode of Buzzcocks that was “Doctor Who-themed.”  Later, when looking up a clip for my post about The Catherine Tate Show, I actually ran into the very episode in question.  (PS – the image above is not from this episode; it’s from one where Barrowman hosts and it’s also hilarious, but I’d watch the Doctor Who one first).

Not only was the show hosted by David Tennant, with cast members competing, but I learned that one of the regular team captains is Noel Fielding – a favorite of mine from The Mighty Boosh, The IT Crowd and other assorted shows.  Further, I realized that the majority of the music questions, as well as the “Intro Round,” where you have to identify a song based only on the intro as hummed or sung by team members, were right up my alley, as I’m a bit of a pop music geek.  I was hooked pretty much instantaneously.

Granted, there’s still a bit of what I had feared – while most people are familiar with US entertainment, not all British acts get exported over here.  There are definitely references I don’t get.  So here’s what I wound up doing about it: Initially I did searches for guests or team members that interested me, but it was all a bit scattered and there are 26 seasons to choose from, so eventually I decided to start with Series 23 (2009) and start from there.  It’s the first season with Noel Fielding as a cast member, it’s recent enough that most of the questions and jokes feel fresh and relevant, and I have a higher chance of knowing the celebrity guests.

Once I started watching in order, I realized that I was giving myself a bit of an education as well. Stars from the British music world compete on the show, and then later, when jokes are made about them, I actually understand them.  Some comedian guests come back more than once, and I actively seek out more from the ones I like.

And the comedic talent is important – because, while this is a quiz show, rules and order definitely take a backseat to comedy.  It’s not censored, so bear that in mind before you watch these videos at work.  I’m sure the actual show is edited down to almost nothing in terms of length, but great care is taken to leave in the hilarious tangents, sometimes even more so than keeping the “game” coherent.  I think US game shows would be even more popular if they did the same (as evidenced by the Family Feud gifs drifting around out there).

Then there’s the actual jokes.  Watching an episode can feel somewhat like being at a roast.  The team members and hosts are unflinching when it comes to making jokes – about each other, or just various household names.  The only US show I can think of off the top of my head that is similar is maybe The Soup – only the jokes and anecdotes are coming from all directions.

So if you’re looking to sit down and giggle for a half hour or so, you might just want to try looking up Never Mind the Buzzcocks if you’ve never given it a try.  I’m about to run out of Noel Fielding episodes, but I’m now comfortable enough with the show that I’m going to jump back in time a bit further (it’s like Doctor Who all over again).

What about you?  Are you interested in trying an episode, or are you a fan of the show?  And if you are, are there similar shows I should be checking out? 

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