It's a funny old game...

Our guide to World Cup comedy

Football is often considered the kiss of death for live comedy, as potential punters seek out the big matches on TV than a night of stand-up.

But the forthcoming World Cup is providing an unexpected boon for more established comedians, with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of TV shows, radio programmes, podcasts and even iPhone apps offering a witty take on the tournament's matches.

Here's Chortle's guide to some of the higher-profile highlights:


James Corden's World Cup Live will be broadcast after key evening games live on ITV1 and ITV4 and feature a World Cup legend and celebrity guests.

BBC Three has reportedly order a series of the Setanta sports satirical show Special 1 TV, which features puppet caricatures of football personalities including Wayne Rooney and Fabio Capello. All the voices are provided byIrish comedian and impressionist Mario Rosenstock


Alan Davies and stand-up Ian Stone and DJ Tayo will be presenting Armchair World Cup, an hour-long programme at 11am every Sunday throughout the campaign on Radio 5 Live. The show promises to focus less on the football, and more on the joys of watching it. The series kicks off with a build-up show on Saturday June 5.

Jon Richardson and Andy Parsons will be the regulars in the Radio 2 comedy panel game Never Write Off The Germans. Hosted by Christian O'Connell, the stand-ups will face a visiting 'away team' of celebrities to score laughs at the expense of 'the WAGs, the gaffes and ITV's coverage.’

Radio 4's sports comedy show Look Away Now is returning for the World Cup. Hosted by the Today programme's sports reporter Garry Richardson, and featuring comics such as Laurence Howarth, Dave Lamb (best known for narrating Come Dine With Me) and Alistair McGowan, three episodes will air in June.


The duo that pretty much defined the comedy football show, former flatmates Frank Skinner and David Baddiel, are reuniting for a series of World Cup podcasts for Absolute Radio. The Fantasy Football duo are making 20 episodes, which will be available at from 6am on the day of release. The first is already out.

It’ll Go To Penalties is a 35-minute light entertainment podcast available on iTunes three times a week featuring a panel of comics and other celebrities discussing the tournament’s highlights. Among those lined up to appear are Paul Whitehouse, Omid Djalili, Paul Tonkinson and Phil Cornwell. Subscribe here


Not about the World Cup, but FC Dave – on the digital channel of the same name – clearly hopes to catch the mood of the football-mad nation with this mockumentary. In these series of web shorts David Baddiel, again, play the manager of a washed-up five-a-side team. Launching this Thursday, the five episode series will be available to watch on as well as YouTube and free on iTunes


John Bishop has teamed up with Baby Cow - the production company behind such hits as the Mighty Boosh and Gavin & Stacey – to offer an animated routine about each crucial match. The Liverpudlian comic will record his comments after the match, which will be animated overnight and sent to anyone who brought the £2.99 app. It goes live on June 12, but here is a teaser:

Baddiel and Skinner's podcasts are also available via the Baddiel and Skinner's Football Kit app, available for £2.99. More info here. The It'll Go To Penalties podcast also has an accompanying iPhone app, featuring the shows and an aggregator of World Cup news from other sources.


The following comedian have launched World Cup singles:

Baddiel & Skinner & The Lightning Seeds (featuring Robbie Williams and Russell Brand): Three Lions 2010

Frank Sidebottom: Three Shirts On My Lion

Stan Boardman: Come On England

James Corden and Dizzie Rascal: A rap cover version of Shout, by Tears For Fears

Rik Mayall: Noble England

Johnny Spurling: Capello Brick Road. Not the best known comedian of this bunch, but he's gone to some effort with the video:


Well, most live shows will studiously avoid the World Cup, but Paul Sneddon's drunken football pundit Bob Doolally will be giving his probably inaccurate predictions for South Africa at the Stand in Edinburgh on June 8 and Glasgow on June 9.

Published: 30 May 2010

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