TV – Anna and Katy Review

It can be difficult to critique a comedy show, especially a sketch show, because it often just comes down to ‘Did it make you laugh?’ It’s true though that some sketch shows are terrible and some are outstanding, and I’d like to explore what makes the difference.

Anna and Katy (Channel 4, Wednesdays) isn’t one of the outstanding ones. The pilot, aired last year, was promising, but the show hasn’t lived up to that potential. All but two of the sketches were parodies. I can’t think of another non-impression sketch show with such a lack of originality.

The parodies were dead on, and it can be funny to see someone send up a TV show, but the sketches lacked jokes beyond ‘Look – we’re doing that show that’s on TV.’ One sketch was just an episode of The Apprentice without any original comic insight. We’ve all mocked The Apprentice, repeatedly, for eight years now. Professional comedians shouldn’t be treading such well-worn territory. And when 90% of a show is parodies it gets wearisome.

It’s not surprising then that the best sketch was the one which wasn’t a caricature of something else. This sketch, about a socially awkward dinner guest, would ring-true to anyone who has struggled with embarrassment after having had a joke fail miserably. It also helped that the sketch had actual jokes – ‘Who’s coming for you?’ ‘The police.’ ‘The band?’

It’s worth pointing out however that Armando Iannucci already did this sketch, and far better, in the outstanding The Armando Iannucci Shows. Iannucci’s version similarly commented on social awkwardness, but also had an original narrative about societal conspiracies, made an insightful point about how we can all feel like frauds sometimes, and the sketch itself complemented previous sketches and fed into later ones. That’s how you write a sketch show.

Worst of the lot in Anna and Katy was a German parody of Countdown. It felt like they wrote the sketch by picking random words out of a hat. Germany, sailor cap, Goth! The only joke in the sketch was repeatedly saying swear words in a way that sounds like German. It went on for far too long and then it came back for a reprise later in the show.

Very similar was a parody of morning TV shows, except hosted by people with Jamaican accents. There weren’t really any jokes beyond ‘Aren’t Jamaican accents funny and isn’t daytime TV shit. Also, vaginas.’

I’m really quite disappointed because the pilot did show promise. There is a real lack of good female-led comedy on TV, and I thought that this show could help change that. Sketch shows can often be hit or miss, but Anna and Katy had just one, maybe two good sketches, and just a handful of funny moments outside of those two. There was very little originality, no insight and no intellectual or satirical points. And sketch shows don’t really improve over time, like sitcoms, so it doesn’t bode well for future episodes.

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4 thoughts on “TV – Anna and Katy Review

  1. Was it superb? No, but I I think it was funny at points and I enjoyed more sketches than I didn’t like; in fact I disliked the dinner party sketch the most out of all of them as it felt a little too wooden.
    I’m almost certain that the description of the show is being ultimately “silly” so to expect a level of neurosis that is found in Armando’s show seems a little naive to me.
    Nonetheless a nice review and I look forward to reading more!
    P.S Are you sure The Countdown parody wasn’t German?!

    • Fair points. It was indeed German. I’ll correct it.

      It might be a little unfair to compare Anna and Katy to Iannucci’s show, but I didn’t think it was lacking just in intellect, but originality and any comedic insight. It was just silly, and it takes a very good comedian to make ‘silly’ worthwhile. Compare it instead to That Mitchell and Webb Look, which mixes silly with satire and parody and observational comedy (and I’m not a big fan of that show).

      But as I said at the start, often sketch shows come down to ‘was it funny’, and comedy is very subjective.

      Thanks for feedback, I appreciate the debate.

  2. Wow. Anna & Katy is the WORST comedy in the history of Channel 4.
    Truly awful and so unfunny that you can picture the tumbleweed swirling around the crew when filming this utter rubbish. Anna is a terrific character actress as seen in Lead Balloon and some of her characterisations extoll her acting credentials. But Katy is so talentless it is painful to watch. I repeat, the worst comedy show in the glorious history of comedy on Ch4. And Katy is the worst performer to ever appear on television too.

    • I agree, it is really poor. I haven’t seen any of the other shows Katy has been in so I can’t comment on her acting, but I do like Anna in Lead Balloon.

      There is a huge discrepancy between how Anna and Katy is being reviewed critically with what ordinary viewers think of it. I’ve seen two separate publications – The Guardian and The Radio Times – refer to them as the new Vic and Bob. Meanwhile on IMDB the show has a rating of 3 out of 10. I think TV reviewers in the UK have a big problem with critiquing female comedy; they think they have to give it a good review. Which is incredibly patronising. There are plenty of funny women; you don’t need to pretend every female comedian is amazing.

      Thanks for reading.

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