As a one-off trip through a madcap brain this will split several sides.
Adam Kennedy 2010
As a television personality, Harry Hill is a rare breed, entertaining the masses with unrestrained wackiness while sneaking more mischievous references below early evening watershed radars. His debut full-length musical foray pulls a comparable trick, obscuring occasionally caustic wit beneath surface silliness.
Despite distancing Funny Times from his best-known Technicolor vehicle TV Burp, Hill himself admits the album envelops similar themes. That’s inevitable, given the former doctor’s devotion to dissecting the slowly decaying corpse of popular culture-slash-television. But certain targets warrant further ridicule beyond 30-second TV gags, selected here with deadly accuracy (aside from rather cruel Susan Boyle paean Subo).
The Disappointment Song (Sex and the City) demonstrates that knack pithily, ripping into Sarah Jessica Parker and co’s big screen excursions with barely-concealed zeal. Nobody is safe, either, from gardeners-turned-tedious chatshow hosts (Alan Titchmarsh Song) to family members (I Wish My Brother-in-Law’s Voice Didn’t Go Up at the End of Every Sentence).
Expectedly random guests – ABC’s Martin Fry (on relatively sensible Burt Bacharach cover This Guy’s in Love With You), William ‘Ken Barlow’ Roache, Bruce Forsyth – garnish moments between Hill’s politely narked highs. And trusty newsreader John Craven announces the genuine peak: Never Be Holly Willoughby Symphony is a geeky timewaster’s letter to the eponymous presenter, offering to take her out to a ludicrous array of family-friendly UK attractions. Essentially Eminem’s Stan lectured in British etiquette, it pauses only to insult her "tiny" husband ("His head is red and shiny / His voice is somewhat whiny").
Hill’s eye for the ridiculous is tempered by completing rhymes that many musical comedians would only dare allude to. Nothing is left to the imagination in Phone Up Yer Mum certainly, Hill advising us "Be a good son and phone up yer mum / ‘Cos one day she’ll be dead", before trading off subtle nuances of such conversations with commendable attention to detail.
Repeated spins will, naturally, send you barmier than Hill, particularly closing Brucie ballad I’m Not Anyone and flagship scally-dissing number I Wanna Baby. As a one-off trip through a madcap brain, however, Funny Times splits a few sides and then some.