The Now Show
For ever and anon Weekending was the standard by which topical humour was judged on radio - and then cameth The Now Show, and suddenly it was cool to be up-to-the-minute again.
Topical comedy is often used as a bit of an excuse for just... not being funny. Partly this is inevitable - if something's just happened it's hard to be polished about it - and partly there's a sense of laziness about a lot of topical stuff.
But The Now Show was put together so much better than most shows of its kind had been previously that it was almost, despite debts to the Mary Whitehouse Experience amongst others, a new format entirely.
Whereas previous topical comedy had focused on sketches and characters, mostly The Now Show allows hosts Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis to MC what is in effect a revue of standup material.
Comedians like Simon Munnery, Al Murray, Laura Shavin and Marcus Brigstocke regularly attack their favourite themes of the moment, whether political or social. Because they're essentially performing standup, the comics can be more freewheeling than in a tighter sketch format, and this suits the timely, up to the minute feel of the show.
Consistently high standards have been reached in its musical sections performed by the inimitable Mitch Benn.
Targets range from constant attacks on people such as David Blaine, to assaults on the Tim Henman culture, Chris Moyles' salary, and digs at the likes of Tim Westwood and his impersonation of being 'street'.
More general satirical attacks are launched at scandals such as the Farepak savings furore and David Cameron's magisterially nonsensical Hug-a-Hoodie campaign, which has been mocked by the show doing the whole thing through a Tellytubby.
Consistently funny and full of timely material, The Now Show's 20 seasons thus far have demonstrated that its loose, open-working way of pitching topical material to the audience is showing no signs of losing steam.
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