La La Land: Season 1 Review

“La La Land” is eff you see kay eye enn jee funny.  End of.  Full stop.

Well it is to me anyway.  It’s evidently not to some people as there’s been a bit of bad press surrounding it, but I think the positive praise outweighs the negative naysayers.  Which it should, as I can’t see how anyone couldn’t find this funny.

“La La Land” follows three eccentric Brits – Jason Statham wannabe Gary Garner, showbiz psychic Shirley Ghostman and hapless documentary filmmaker Brendan Allan – as they traipse across Hollywood trying to make it big.  Each character is played by the same man – Marc Wootton – and is thrust into situations with real people, à la “Borat”.  Inevitable comparisons will be made with Sacha Baron Cohen and his creations, but I think there’s an originality to Wootton’s show which marks it out from the rest, as not only are the characters flawless, but the situations they get into are jaw-dropping – even more so than some of Cohen’s hairiest moments.

Firstly, let’s look at ex-taxi driver Gary Garner.  Throughout the series, he stays at real life actress Ruta Lee’s (who is completely unaware about the situation) mansion, and traverses the many auditions and classes that I assume every wannabe actor has to attend.  However, as this is a comedy show, Garner has the tendency to fuck up at every hurdle, usually because he’s a massive dickhead.  He doesn’t listen to people, he loves himself, he thinks he’s an amazing actor and (I think I’ve mentioned this) he’s a massive dickhead – all inroads into some hilarious comedy situations.  For example, in one episode, he manages to get himself a role in Tommy Wiseau’s (director of the masterpiece “The Room”) new film and proceeds to bring about the end of the production and winds Wiseau up to such a degree that he walks out.  Wootton’s talent at rubbing people up the wrong way is faultless, and although all those around him are losing their heads – he never becomes annoying to the viewer.

Next up is Shirley Ghostman, who’s been depicted by Wootton in a previous show (“High Spirits with Shirley Ghostman”) that focused entirely on this character.  Ghostman is a deplorable TV psychic who uses many underhanded tactics to get what he wants, including spiking people’s drinks – these scenes are almost impossible to watch.  His reason for being in Hollywood is to escape the bad press that surrounds him in England and to build up a reputation as a top Hollywood Medium – but of course, things go wrong.  Mainly because he’s a massive dickhead.

Lastly, it’s Brendan Allan, the inept documentary filmmaker who is desperate to succeed in Hollywood.  However, being a massive dickhead, things are hard and the ideas that he pitches are hilariously abysmal.  The best moment comes when he meets with Hollywood producer Sheldon Altfeld and presents him with an idea for his next documentary:

As you can see, he’s a massive dickhead.  But it’s this massive dickheadedness that makes the program so compulsive – watching these idiots wind up people never gets old.  As a staple comedy tactic, it never has got old, from the days of “Candid Camera” right up to “Borat” – watching people get pissed off by morons is funny.  So comparing “La La Land” to Cohen’s work is redundant – it’s merely a sub-genre of comedy – it would be like criticizing Chris Rock for copying Robin Williams – all he does is stand on a stage telling jokes – BOOOOORIIING!!

Unlike Cohen’s work, it also isn’t as concerned with showing up certain people for who they really are, but more with gawping at how much of a massive dickhead each of the characters are – who wants to expose the selfish, egotistical nature of Hollywood when you can have Shirley Ghostman thrashing around on the floor and crying like a baby?  Now that’s real comedy.

If there are any problems with the show, it’s that sometimes the humour will steer a bit close to the bone for some tastes, and it also ventures into quite irresponsible territory sometimes – for example, going so far as to have the police called causes them to be distracted from doing their real jobs.  Still, apart from a few instances of this, “La La Land” is true comedy gold and deserves to be watched by anyone who considers themselves a comedy connoisseur.

“La La Land” is available on Region 2 DVD now from ITV Studios Home Entertainment.  Special features include an exclusive banned episode, as well as deleted scenes.