We Recommend: Burnistoun
If you're anything like me, you'll find it easy to get cynical about the lack of good sketch comedy on TV these days. The likes of Armstrong and Miller can feel like they're playing it a little too safe, while Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights seemed to be trying too hard to shock.
But for the past two years there has been an alternative, albeit one limited to those north of the border, or those determined to seek it out on iPlayer. Burinstoun is a fantastic little sketch from Iain Connell and Robert Florence, the latter who may be familiar to geeks as the man behind obscure late-night BBC videogame show videoGaiden and the even more obscure internet-only show Consolevania.
The somewhat manic, off-kilter style that drove those shows is full and present in Burnistoun, making it feel both alien and somewhat familiar at the same time. It rebels against the modern trend in sketch comedy by follows a lot of the traditional rules: sketches have punchlines, there's a laugh-track, and while characters recur between episodes, there's no attempt to drawn them altogether in to some ongoing narrative beyond the basic conceit that it's all happening in the same, eponymous, town. Instead it just focuses on being funny.
The humour spans a wide range of styles with the show refusing to be pigeon-holed. It's just as at home on something completely surreal (the Pope playing football in the street) as it is with something more subtle and observational (the awkwardness of not knowing how a buffet service works), though most sketches eventually progress into something wonderfully deranged.
Any comedy fans should definitely check this out, it's been hidden away from us for so long that it deserves some attention.
Burnistoun starts tonight (Thursday 13 October) at 11.20pm on BBC2.