Shiny Shelf

Modern Toss

By Stephen Lavington on 13 July 2006

Channel 4’s Comedy Lab is a hit and miss affair, though in my experience it enjoys more hits than misses. That said, its one-off thirty minute pilot episodes are often just that – comedy drops in the pond which are never heard from again. However, sometimes commissioning editors have their heads out of the coke bowl long enough to pick up these ideas for a full series, and this is what has happened with ‘Modern Toss’, though this is somewhat of a mixed blessing.

‘Modern Toss’ is an occasional comic book, of the sort that seems at first glance to be designed for the Nathan Barleys of East London, all excessive swearing and low-fi design, though closer inspection reveals the saving grace that it is actually very funny.

That said it is not necessarily the sort of humour that transfers to screen. The comic book is a collection of one-off gags, often no more than one speech bubble and a scratchily crude illustration. By necessity TV draws these out in length and in doing so loses some of the immediate on-page bite, something not helped a by a quality level below that of the comic book.

It’s not a complete flop – Anti-social house-sitter Alan and ‘Incredible Hulk’ style telly addict Barney are both notable while Master Signwriter Mr Tourette is the show’s jewel in the crown – but is very patchy, and sometimes veers into the terrain of Soho-media-scum-clever-funny that the comic manages to avoid. That said, when it does work it is very funny very watchable and often very rude. One worth sticking with.

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By Stephen Lavington

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