This week's comedy news
The latter has a small role in Allen's forthcoming feature Blue Jasmine, but the part isn't "commensurate with his talent", says Allen. "[So] when I finished this picture, I went into my room and thought, what would be a fun picture? My first thought was: can I come up with something that I could do with Louis CK? … Some day, I will get something that we could do together, because I do think it would be fun. I'm such a great fan of his."
Elsewhere in Hollywood, Mike Myers in hatching a directorial debut: a documentary feature about the veteran Hollywood talent manager Shep Gordon.
Overall, though, July is the silly season for comedy, and it doesn't come much sillier than ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell starring in an autobiographical comedy series. Yes, hot on the heels of the exposure of Kanye West's foray into mirth-making, another musical star flits to the newer rock'n'roll. "We are currently developing an idea for a TV show with Geri Halliwell," says a spokesperson for Peep Show creators Objective Productions, "in which she laughs gamely at herself and her fame." A teaser for the sitcom has been released, which – much to the delight of the Sun newspaper – sees Halliwell "stripped to her undies" and humiliated on a one-night stand. The comedy, which has yet to find a broadcaster (Channel 4 has distanced itself from the project), "will see Geri try to balance the everyday pressures of being a mother and" – wait for it – "an international pop sensation".
Speaking of pressure, a British club comedy chain is taking on the might of Twentieth Century Fox, whose series Glee, it claims, has breached its copyright. Comedy Enterprises Ltd, which has run four comedy venues under its Glee Club banner since 1999, is pursuing its claim in the High Court that the hit teen musical show unlawfully "swamped" its trademark, and that its success has damaged business. The chain's boss, Mark Tughan, has accused Fox of "intimidating" him, according to the Daily Mail, in what he calls a "David and Goliath" fight. Fox denies this, and denies any copyright infringement. "There is," says its spokesperson, "no evidence of genuine or properly substantiated confusion and no likelihood of confusion."
Back in Blighty, here's this week's TV and radio news. Oh, and also online – where Chris Langham may star in a new web mockumentary about the fictionalised career of ex-Hollyoaks actor Lee Otway. Radio 4 have commissioned a second series of Kerry Godliman's Kerry's List and Bridget Christie's Mind the Gap. Channel 4 has shelved plans for a series of Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong's spoof telenovela (Hispanic soap opera) Bad Sugar, after "it proved impossible to bring all the talent – writing and performing – together at the same time", according to a spokesperson. Meanwhile, standup Paul Chowdhry will present the new series of C4's Stand Up for the Week, and the same broadcaster is to screen a whole night dedicated to The IT Crowd this October, centred around the final, special episode of Graham Linehan's cult office-based sitcom.
Best of the Guardian's comedy coverage
• "People don't feel threatened. There's no reason not to be gentle. Gentle is powerful" – activist comedian Reverend Billy talks to the Observer about the plague of golden toads about to descend on Britain's banks.
• "You sit around in your underwear making stuff up all day. If I'm honest, I do feel a bit ashamed of being a writer" – Ryan Gilbey interviews Simon Rich, novelist, screenwriter and sketch writer for Saturday Night Live.
• "Some boring old market town in the middle of nowhere, one; obscure coal-mining village, one" – vintage clips commemorating the career of the late Mel Smith.
• "We could never do cool. Studio sitcoms are the perfect housing for us in that respect" – James Kettle talks to the sketch troupe Pappy's about their new sitcom, Badults.
• "Ambles along, amiably enough, unmemorably, a bit sillily – but never surprisingly or outrageously" – Sam Wollaston reviews Christopher Guest's new show Family Tree.
Controversy of the millennium
Turn the other cheek, said Jesus – one of the subjects of Russell Brand's forthcoming comedy show Messiah Complex. Evidence that Brand still has some way to go to emulate the son of God comes with his interview on Desert Island Discs, in which he strikes a few more blows in the endless Sachsgate controversy. "After the show there were two complaints. After it was in the Daily Mail there were 42,000 complaints," Brand told the show's host Kirsty Young. "There was obviously a pre-existing agenda in privately owned media to destabilise, attack and diminish the BBC."
Would the Daily Mail respond? Does it still have the stomach for this particular war of attrition? Of course. "Why did the BBC let Russell Brand insult Andrew Sachs again?" barked its headline. "Actor's wife says interview with comedian was 'very nasty to hear'." Melody Sachs duly substantiated the piece with her own (spontaneous, we're sure) outrage. "He didn't apologise," she told the Mail. "It was a pathetic little rendition of what actually happened." The Mail then helpfully illustrated this piece with a sidebar titled: "How the BBC is promoting [Brand]."
Best of our readers' comments
Mel Smith died last Friday and, as ever on these occasions, the comments threads overflowed with fond tributes to a man who brought lots of laughter into the nation's living rooms. cleverpants just about summed it up:
[I] came in just at the end of Not the Nine O'Clock News – unfortunately the first sketch we saw was "McEnroe's breakfast". My mother made a disgusted noise like Carol Vorderman when she's on Question Time discussing the Labour Party, and sprung for the off switch faster than Usain Bolt out of the blocks. From then on, Mel Smith was comedy contraband, sneaked into the bedroom on the black-and-white portable like The Young Ones, as punk as the Pistols. And, in spite of all the times I was made to watch one of his HR videos in the 90s, in the desperate hope that I might finally become an effective wage slave with prospects, that's how I'll remember him.
All this consensual affection, one might have been forgiven for thinking you'd gone soft on us. Far from it, if BlackberryBlossom's comments – written after, but largely unrelated to, Ryan Gilbey's Simon Rich interview – are anything to go by:
I often wonder why I no longer laugh out loud these days. Is it me? Have I grown old, bitter and cynical? I mean, I spent three days this week re-arranging the spare room. There wasn't even any furniture in it – but it was still the highlight of my week. It could be me.
No – it's definitely other people. Take this Simon Rich comedian – the latest in a long line of people who failed to make me laugh. One comedian after another trying fruitlessly to stimulate a smile, a smirk, a mere flicker of mirth. They work tirelessly, using their imagination and wit. But nothing. Nothing. I'd never even heard of half of them. God, I'm so tired of it all. So very tired. Why can't they make me laugh? What's wrong with them?
A Guardian Reader on the Comedy Threads.
Answers on a postcard, please …
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