Thank god for laugh tracks for without them I wouldn’t have been able to tell where the funny bits were in this totally unnecessary attempt at re-making the British comedy series The IT Crowd for the American market.
Despite the involvement of original IT Crowd alumni Richard Ayoade and the talented Joel McHale (Community), one can see why NBC passed on this 2007 pilot. It just ain’t funny and lacks the spark that made the Brit show so smart, so hilarious and so addictive.
I’ve practically been an evangelist for Snuff Box for these past five years, so I’m happy to report that at long last one of the decade’s hidden comedic gems will finally be coming out on DVD stateside. Snuff Box will be released in the US by Severin Films on October 11th.
What is Snuff Box? It’s the legendary BBC series written by and starring Britain’s Matt Berry (The IT Crowd, Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place) and American Rich Fulcher (The Mighty Boosh, The Sarah Silverman Program) that only aired once yet instantly entered cult infamy. It’s a combination of depraved sitcom about a pair of jovial hangmen and twisted sketch comedy ala Monty Python, filled with bad first dates, time travel, sex, whiskey, awkward moments, random beatings, snappy musical numbers, one very long white hall, rampant swearing and other pleasures. It’s the show critics have called “one the best kept secrets in the history of British comedy,” now on DVD for the first time ever in America!
Featuring commentaries from Berry, Fulcher and director Michael Cumming, “testimonials” from well-known fans of the show, behind the scenes featurettes and outtakes. There’s even a separate CD of Matt Berry’s striking original Snuff Box soundtrack music, a treat in itself.
Have a look at the new trailer featuring Simon Pegg, Paul Rudd, Noel Fielding, Rob Coddry, Rob Schrab, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Paul Scheer and yours truly. What Paul Scheer says at the end is, of course, totally true…
It’s the middle of the new series and it’s even better than the last. This go ‘round, I have laughed myself senseless at Richard Ayoade’s Moss enthralling a bunch of idiotic businessmen with his D&D prowess and Moss’s ninja quiz show skills. And Matt Berry… what a comic genius! All I can say is this: I wish there was a drug I could take that would turn me into Douglas for just one day. One day. Is that too much to ask?
I also laughed heartily at the name of the rock group, Sweet Billy Pilgrim, a reference, of course, to the character in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, right? I made a mental note to email series creator Graham Linehan and tell him what a good chuckle I had at this great literary name he’d come up with, but before I did, I decided to Google Sweet Billy Pilgrim just in case. I’m glad I did as it actually is a real group! That would have been really embarrassing.
(Tara, being both from Ohio and a big Guided By Voices fan, wanted me to show you this particular zoom in on some of the details, hence the above screen grab)
Snuff Box is the name of the greatest sketch comedy show you’ve never heard of. I’d venture so far as to say it’s a work of demented genius. Make that two demented geniuses, Matt Berry (IT Crowd, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace) and Rich Fulcher (“Bob Fossil,” “Eleanor,” etc., on The Mighty Boosh). First broadcast at 11pm on BBC3 in 2006 and never broadcast again, Snuff Box sadly was missed by its target audience, who ended up discovering it anyway, via YouTube and Bit Torrent. (Snuff Box finally came out on DVD in 2008).
Each episode begins with Berry and Fulcher (playing “themselves”) walking down a white hallway, before choosing a door leading to a typically odd “situation.” The pair are employed as government hangmen. They also spend a lot of time in a gentleman’s club (where time travel occurs), nursing whiskeys and swearing. There is a LOT of swearing in Snuff Box, so much so that it gives Deadwood a run for the money. It’s one of the meanest spirited comedies I can think of (not that this is a bad thing, of course).
Here are some of my favorite Snuff Box moments. First, the awkward date:
The Empty Room
The Guitar Lesson
Isn’t it about time Adult Swim picked this sucker up for American audiences??? (Hint, hint).