'Straight-faced surrealism and huge dumb jokes underpinned with fantastic writing' | Sam Nicoresti picks his comedy favourites

'Straight-faced surrealism and huge dumb jokes underpinned with fantastic writing'

Sam Nicoresti picks his comedy favourites

Sam Nicoresti – a member of the Weirdo’s comedy collective and former winner of  the So You Think You’re Funny? sketch competition – brings his latest show, UFO, to the Soho Theatre later this month. Here he shares his Perfect Playlist of comedy favourites


Fawlty Towers: Gourmet Night

Apparently I was a disturbingly emotionless toddler until the day I saw Basil Fawlty give his car a damn good thrashing. My dad says it was the first time he'd ever seen me laugh. It was all downhill from there.

I was obsessed with that moment, patiently rewinding and replaying the portion of tape until it was lost to static and my parents had been subjected to a form of repetitive stimulus torture usually reserved for illegal CIA prisons and lovelorn weathermen in Punxsutawney.

As a primitive child I found it funny because the car was red, the man was tall, the branch was big. As a pretentious adult I find it funny because the car represents an ambivalent and godless universe.

Who is Mr Fawlty screaming at? The car feels nothing, it cannot be moved. It is as red and ludicrous and impotent as his rage. The kicker is when he lifts the glistening silver cloche, after all that, it's not the prize duck but a beige trifle. He had already lost, he could never have won.

Longmont Potion Castle

I was high and couch-locked in a teenage bedroom the first time someone played me the absurdist prank calls of Longmont Potion Castle. It was a cruel thing to do. There was no foothold. I didn't understand what was happening. Why is someone shipping 1,500 millipedes? Who is Spicy Legato? What is Radio Shack? Like a magic-eye tacked on a 15-year-old's bedroom wall the picture slowly slid into focus and revealed hidden depths and new ways of seeing.

It's 'No, but…' improvised comedy performed against unwitting adversaries and elevated to surreal art. Perfect for the last train home after a gig.

The Peter Serafinowicz Show

The Peter Serafinowicz Show has provided my social group (me and my one friend Tom) with so many quotes over the years that I'm fairly sure there was a period where our only interaction would be saying, 'Birthday pie' and, 'Hi I'm Derek Bum!' to each other, which would explain why we didn't make any other friends during that time.

I think Peter Serafinowicz is so weird. Why is he being so silly? He's too tall and handsome for all this malarkey.

The whole thing's on YouTube, give it a spin. You'll soon grow to love the weird taste of internet ham. But remember! Poison sockets are full of poison.

The Happiness of the Katakuris

I cannot pass up a public platform without making it clear that I love weird Japanese films. I'm obsessed with the fact that Hitoshi Matsumoto, one of Japan's most popular double-act comedians, also directed a movie about a man who has to touch a load of cherub dicks in an attempt to escape a doorless room. It'd be like if Ernie Wise had directed Lair of the White Worm. Or, not that... there's no direct English equivalent.

Anyway, that's Symbol, and this is The Happiness of the Katakuris - a comedy-horror musical by Takashi Miike, who also directed Ichi The Killer. It's about a struggling family who open a B&B, only for each of the guests to wind up dead. Meanwhile their daughter falls in love with a man claiming to be a US admiral and nephew of Queen Elizabeth II. The Hollywood magic of their romance coupled with the fact that the guy is very obviously none of those things is just the funniest combination.

This scene, where they first meet and he gets knocked out by a confetti cannon during their love-at-first-sight musical number, gets me a-giggling every time.

Community

All right, come on. It's all well and good to say 'look at me, I like odd stuff', but at some point you have to face the bacon and sizzle yourself real. Community is the best.

I'm ashamed to say I wasn't there the first time around. I was still in my teenage phase of considering all American TV to be inferior to our Queen's own, mostly because my parents wouldn't get Freeview, but my girlfriend is a big advocate and she set me straight.

Much like with Dan Harmon's other show (the sci-fi Back to the Future one) the writing displays not just an encyclopaedic knowledge of pop-culture but also a fundamental grasp of its forms. The one-liners are constant, the life lessons are break-throughs and the meta-comedy is good and not, as you might expect, over-indulgent and alienating (you hear me, younger self?).

Detroiters

Looking for that I Think You Should Leave high? Before Carmine Laguzio didn't want to be around anymore, and after Sammy Paradise autofellated himself in a casino bathroom, Tim Robinson and Zach Kanin made Detroiters.

Sam Richardson and Tim Robinson star as Detroit ad-men who make cheesy local TV commercials. Think used-car salesmen, furniture warehouses, or Robert Dyas Christmas ads. It's full of small moments of straight-faced surrealism and huge dumb jokes underpinned with fantastic writing that completely trusts its cast and crew.

This scene is great. Tim Robinson (or Zach Kanin I don't know who wrote what) is so good at slowly stripping a high-status character of their layers until they're naked emperors, offering to do anything base for a buck. It's a lucid and childlike view of people at their most pathetic and I'm in awe of it.

Sam Nicoresti: UFO is on at Soho Theatre on September 27 and 28 at 7.15pm. More info and tickets

Published: 14 Sep 2021

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