When is a telethon not a telethon? Apparently when it only lasts for 4.5 hours on a Friday night. It seemed odd to me that the term "telethon" wasn't being thrown around the Red Nose Day special last Friday - especially when there were so many similarities (multiple pledge drives, interviews with people involved in the charity, giant cheques, even a charity song) - but it wasn't a big deal: what we had was an evening of entertainment to benefit Cure Kids, courtesy of the Kiwi comedy elite. And they didn't disappoint.
Friday's show was a smorgasbord of local comedy offerings. Hosted by Jeremy Corbett and Paul Ego, the show managed to stay entertaining from start to finish - while there were a few hiccups here and there (the All Blacks' training meeting sketch was a big miss, as was a later attempt to work in some of the cast of Outrageous Fortune), those down moments couldn't take the sheen off an otherwise great show.
The opening sketch, taking the form of a town hall meeting, was a great way to kick things off; trying to spot all the references and name everyone who showed up became a little game of its own. I enjoyed The Funny Factor, which showed just how hard live comedy can be.
The Flight of the Conchords song was a hit as well - and a surprisingly cute moment in the show, with Bret and Jemaine using their chats with the kids to form the lyrics of their song.
I also liked that they worked in new episodes of the now-standard Friday night comedy shows, starting with an episode of Would I Lie to You around 9.30pm. Okay, it still isn't the best show on television. But the move to Friday night, giving it a more mature slant and allowing the guests to be more colourful, has helped the show immensely. At the very least, it's been a lot better at 9.30pm on Fridays than it was at 7pm on Sundays. Paul Henry is still a problem, though.
Say what you want about Jono Pryor and Ben Boyce, but their attempt to join forces has been entertaining, and Jono & Ben at Ten has got better each week. Sure, much of the material is derived from other shows or online - a fact that the show shamelessly wears as a badge of honour - but damn, it's funny stuff.
I especially love the Action Men segments; Friday's attempt to stick red noses on unsuspecting members of the public had me in stitches, and I think everything Guy Williams does is completely hilarious.
Closing the show off with a live, unedited 7 Days was a good move too. TV3's flagship Friday night show has got better and better over the years, coinciding with the rise and rise of local comedians.
As Ewen Gilmour said in that ill-advised Outrageous Fortune sketch, "it's our time now", referring to how comedy has overtaken scripted drama as the primary source of Kiwi entertainment on our television screens. And when you consider the Friday night shows, as well as recent scripted fare like Hounds, he may be right.
I'm unashamedly a Kiwi comedy fan, but you have to admit, local comedy is in a good place right now, and Friday night's charity drive - not a telethon - proves it.
What did you think of Friday's Red Nose Day Comedy for Cure Kids show? Did you enjoy it as much as I did? And what do you think of the state of New Zealand comedy right now?
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