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The Node: 'An online gondola punting through cyberspace'

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David Thair | 15:44 UK time, Friday, 16 October 2009

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The Node is a brand new web series for Comedy Extra in which cultural commentators Martin Baine-Jones and Craig Children turn their critical eye to web phenomenons.

I spoke to Martin and Craig to find out more about these two experienced broadcasters.

Who are you, and what brought you together as a team?

Martin: Craig and I were music critics back in the 90s. I was the rock correspondent for The Daily Telegraph, and Craig was the rock critic for The Independent.
Craig: The Independent on Sunday's Culture pull out in actual fact. I'd been familiar with Martin's seminal, thousand word-plus history of 80s music, Start Making Sense. I don't think I actually finished reading it though.
Martin: And in many ways, I don't think I finished writing it. It's a story too big for any book to contain.
Craig: Anyway, so we finally crossed paths in Wakefield at the Sounds of the City Festival.
Martin: That's right, we were both there to review a band called The People Who Walked In Darkness. Which is ironic, since there was a 36 hour power cut at the time.
Craig: We quite literally bumped into each other. 

What is The Node?

Martin: The Node is a Lexus.
Craig: No, Martin, it's a nexus, a meeting point.
Martin: It's an online coming-together. A sort of online gondola, punting through cyberspace, through the canals of net culture, picking the odd cultural dropped hat and burst balloon out of the murky waters.
Craig: I don't think that was a burst balloon Martin. But yes, you're right, The Node is a discussion of net culture, in which we try to work out what it all means. What does it all mean, Martin?
Martin: You'll have to watch The Node to find out Craig!

Is net culture any different to that on more traditional mediums? If so, how?

Martin: It's becoming less and less so, I think. Increasingly net culture and real world culture co-mingle and wash up on our collective beaches.
Craig: We very much see ourselves as beach scavengers, in a metaphorical sense and in a way a very real sense.

What, in your opinions, is the most culturally significant web phenomenon of our time?

Martin: Probably the Zippo lighter iPhone app I'd say. Great for holding aloft at a Simply Red concert with no risk of burning the finger tips.
Craig: Martin, what you've actually done there is name the most pointless thing ever. I mean what is the point of a lighter which gives off no heat, light, and crucially doesn't light anything?
Martin: But at least Mick Hucknell can sleep safe at night, knowing he won't ever suffer a Michael Jackson-style hair combustion incident on stage.
Craig: Yes well anyway, I think my nomination for the most culturally significant web phenomenon is Gaydar.
Martin: Craig is there something you want to tell me?
Craig: Purely for it's ingenuity as a social network. It really is the best example technically of that sort of site. Don't get me wrong, I'm a thrusting, straining bloke, always up for heterosexual sex. I'm always looking at women, can't take my eyes of them. Looking at their mounds, crevices and what have you.
Martin: I see.

Have you considered that you may now become cultural artefacts in yourselves and become the subject of other critics?

Martin: Not until just now. 
Craig:  Oooh I wouldn't mind being caught in the cross-hairs of a critic as long as the critic were female. I am, as I've repeatedly said in the past, a hot-blooded male, rampantly interested in heterosexual inter-relations and, you know, whatever it is. That Bonnie Greer, she could criticise me intimately, grrrr.
Martin: Stop it Craig, I feel sick!

What's next?

Martin:  We've been keenly following a comedy double act who go by the name Armstrong & Miller, and we believe they are currently at the bleeding edge of the cultural zeitgeist.
Craig: Yes, they're at the moist of the spectrum. Or perhaps the clammy end.
Martin: Either way, I understand they have a new comedy sketch programme which will frequent the 9.30pm slot on BBC One each Friday night.
Craig: Yes, and there's also a tour coming up, I hear. A live tour featuring all of our funniest characters. I mean their funniest characters.

Martin and Craig were being channelled by Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller. The new series of The Armstrong and Miller Show can be seen on Friday nights at 9.30pm on BBC One.


  • Comment number 1.

    I just tried to watch armstrong and miller. That laughter track is awful, I just had to switch it off after 2 minutes. It was like having someone sitting right next to you, putting their mouth to your ear and laughing loudly in a false way every time there was something even slightly humorous.
    Perhaps the iPlayer could feature two copies, one with and one without the laughter track. Then instead of BBC people telling everyone some audience study said people like it, they can look at the comparative hits of the alternate versions.

  • Comment number 2.

    The show was funny, as it was intended. I was practically glued to my set. My favourite sketch was the librarian and the domino effect bookcases; I thorough enjoyed watching the Star Trek spoof, the moral attached to the performance was spot on; ugly duckling/beautiful swan, but also about the facades we unknowingly judge people by and how we are always at a loss when we judge too soon.
    The grass isn't always greener, when we go by other people's demeanour. Armstrong and Miller are disturbingly fantastic; bravo. I'm looking forward to episode 2, don't disappoint. Accident, lol.


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