Panel shows

Americans have talk shows. Brits and Australians have panel shows. Brits and Aussies WIN.

Panel shows are, without a doubt in my mind, the funniest TV can get (well, some of them are). They consist of a host and two teams of celebrities (or ‘celebrities’), who compete for points on a theme such as music or current affairs. And they’re ridiculously funny.

I think the first panel show I saw was Good News Week, but I can’t entirely remember because panel shows are such a big part of my TV-watching nowadays. Good News Week skews towards comedian guests, and not surprisingly its focus is on spoofing the news. One of the reasons panel shows are so great is their loose format. The guests can go bonkers and it’s all just part of a regular day’s filming. Here’s one of *many* brilliant clips from GNW, featuring one of my favourite stand-ups Wil Anderson (more on him later…) and his ex-radio buddy Adam Spencer:

My top 2 favourite panel shows are Never Mind the Buzzcocks and QI, both British.

NMTB is music-themed, and has musicians, comedians, and other public figures (ex. Heston Blumenthal, randomly) on as guests. It used to be hosted by Mark Lamarr; when I started watching, Simon Amstell was the host (-GIANT HEART-); currently there is a different guest host each episode. Phill Jupitus is one team captain. Bill Bailey used to be the other; now it’s Noel Fielding (The Mighty Boosh, the one with the hair. Ohhh the haairrrrr.). Even though I don’t always know the guests, NMTB is piss-yourself-funny. The writing is SO GOOD. Now that the hosts are different every week, it is even more clear how clever the writers are – it wasn’t just Simon Amstell’s wit and delivery that made the show so good. To my surprise, the best-ever episode of NMTB featured American crooner Josh Groban as a guest. Turns out he is HYSTERICALLY funny. Here’s his episode. Don’t worry if you’re not a Grobanite. Just watch it:

P.S. Josh Groban just filmed an episode of NMTB as host. It airs some time in December-ish. NMTB series 24 is currently airing in the UK.

QI stands for Quite Interesting, and it’s the panel show for intellectuals. It’s hosted by Stephen Fry, and kind of oddly only has one permanent panelist, Alan Davies (who also has lovely hair, in case anyone cares). Each season of QI is based on a letter of the alphabet. Currently they’re on season H, so they’ve had episodes on ‘Hanatomy,’ ‘Humans,’ ‘Hanimals,’ ‘Happiness,’ and so on. QI is great because it’s actually clever. The guests are the upper crust of British comedians (think David Mitchell), and you actually learn interesting things during the show. Seeing very smart people lose it is somehow funnier than seeing average people chuckling away. Here’s a small sample of QI wit:

Other panel shows I watch include:
• Mock the Week (British news spoof hosted by Dara O’Briain)
• Spicks & Specks (Australian music trivia hosted by comedy god Adam Hills)
• 8 Out of 10 Cats (British trivia-based show hosted by Jimmy Carr)
• The Gruen Transfer (a bit different from the others – acclaimed Australian show all about advertising hosted by Wil Anderson)

A couple of weeks ago Benedict Cumberbatch, who brought Sherlock Holmes to the 21st century, hosted Have I Got News For You. British comedian Jon Richardson was a guest.

One of the best panel show episodes I’ve seen lately was episode 5 of brand new show Ask Rhod Gilbert. The episode featured: David Tennant, Adam Hills, two Welsh guys, Gary Davies, and some girl from EastEnders. David had the cutest freak-out. *sigh*

What are your favourite panel shows? Who are your favourite guests? Share some clips with me!


About whoseroses

Rose is an arts administrator from Victoria, BC. She has worked at some of Canada's biggest and best festivals, including the Victoria Fringe Festival, Just for Laughs in Montreal, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, and the Victoria Film Festival. She co-founded the Winnipeg Spoken Word Festival, and helped produce the Victoria Spoken Word Festival. Rose is passionate about theatre, spoken word, comedy, and her community. She runs on festivals.
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