Shiny Shelf

Adam & Joe Go Tokyo

By Mags L Halliday on 06 July 2003

I have a soft spot for Adam Buxton. Yes, he’s the short one with the thick eyebrows and the captain’s hat who comes dangerously close to being “cuddly”. I have never forgotten late night hysterics as Adam and Joe recreated classic moments using their toy collection. But, like Ant and Dec, Adam and Joe are ageing before our very eyes. ‘Adam & Joe Go Tokyo’ should be great. You can imagine the pitch: get Adam and Joe, well known lovers of all things kitschy Japanese, and send them to Tokyo! Hilarious! What could possibly go wrong? Well, quite a bit.

Comedy duos work niches: Morecambe and Wise ‘lived’ together in some strange 70s bachelor-dom, Reeves and Mortimore smack each other around with comedy frying pans. The comedy comes from pattern recognition and from the fact that the duo follow the logic of the false world they inhabit. Adam & Joe’s first natural habitat was Channel 4 and, more precisely, a young man’s bedroom replete with far too many Star Wars figures, cuddly toys and the like. Not only that but their behaviour was exactly what you might expect. And yes, I’ve been known to get my two oh-so-slightly different models of Obi-Wan Kenobi (both from ‘The Phantom Menace’) to have light sabre duels so I know the world of which I speak. It was like two people I knew had somehow got control of the TV (see also ‘Adam & Joe Take Over TV’) whilst Joe’s father got on with the actual going out and doing the things the boys ought to be doing. Obviously, that was a false universe, just as Morecambe and Wise didn’t really live together, and they would move on from their bedroom but why to something as flat as this?

‘Adam and Joe Go Tokyo’ takes the lads out of their natural habit – and I don’t mean Channel 4 – and put them in a large, bright shiny studio in Tokyo. The brushed aluminium set could be from any cheap filler show on BBC3 (‘pure24′, ‘celebdaq’, ‘liquidnews’) and suddenly Adam and Joe’s false conviviality doesn’t look like two TV pros pretending to be amateurs floundering about in a studio but like two TV pros floundering about. It’s one of those TV moments when you can almost smell the desperation.

Take J-pop. I loved ‘Saiko!Exciting’ which just played J-pop videos in between anime and strange Japanese lessons. Adam and Joe play a bit of a video and then attempt to deconstruct it – like ‘Beavis and Butthead’ but real. J-pop videos don’t need deconstructing as the viewer is already creating their own crazed working out of what is going on. It captures none of the fun of J-pop and by only showing a bit of the videos, it denies the viewers the chance to be creative with its meaning.

Chunks of the show are dedicated to Adam and Joe’s not terribly serious attempts to make it big in Japan. This could be a very entertaining satire on our one sleb-obsessed culture, highlighting the parallels and how people with nothing but the desire to become famous are facilitated by a load of backroom people taking their cut. Yet this too lacks bite. Although thanks for the image of the two of them posing in their undies which I have been unable to shake out of my head. Like ‘the Michael Essany show’, it’s as if merely showing the behind the scenes stuff should be enough to entertain us. ‘Pop Idol’ etc were based on the pleasure of watching someone humiliate themselves for passing D-list status and, even though they aren’t taking it seriously, there’s something like contact embarrassment at watching Adam and Joe do it.

Ironic material should be inviting the audience in on the joke, but nothing about this show invites you in. The over-glossy set, the stilted patter, the lack of warmth all alienates the audience. Hopefully, this is a glitch. A phase they’re going through before they settle down to a life outside of the anoraks and bedrooms of their Channel 4 material. Whatever it is, it’s not funny. And there is no worse thing for a comedy duo to be.

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