Laugh? I Came Close a Couple of Times
I was expecting to be disappointed by Peter Kay's talent show spoof The Pop Factor...... (C4) and I wasn't disappointed.......if you see what I mean.
The reason this idea should have been instantly dismissed is very simple: you can't parody something that is already beyond parody.
They spent shedloads of money on this spoof to make it almost identical to The X Factor - same studio, same set, real judges from the days of Pop Idol. But the appearance of not just Paul McCartney but real pop royalty in the form of Rick Astley couldn't save it from tedium.
Peter Kay played a female contestant called Geraldine who the tabloids had discovered used to be Gerald. To prove my point (above) a tabloid last week 'revealed' that one of the male contestants in the current X Factor wishes to change sex. From reading just the front page (and not pages 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9) this claim appeared to be based on no more than the boy having once sung a song in drag. But this was a case of reality imitating art that was imitating reality.
When the partly fake 'reality' of a reality show is so funny itself, parody is pointless. But if you must attempt parody, it's best to avoid an exact imitation of the original. The more perfect the imitation, the less funny it becomes. In this case, the exaggeration was only about 5 or 10% and that wasn't enough. Someone like Chris Morris would have got the style of the progamme spot-on but then pushed the content to a mind-boggling level of absurdity - and possibly obscenity too. But this programme had no edge to it. It was so safe and cosy it felt like a comedy spectacular from 40 years ago. Again, at the risk of labouring the point, I've seen edgier things on the X Factor. Remember Sharon Osbourne flirting with Shane Ward and saying "I've got something warm and wet for you"? Or the elderly lady auditioning this year who sang "We're having a gang bang!"
So tedious was this programme that I didn't stay up for the second part, the results show. I was not the only one. The main show had 5.5 million viewers but that dropped to 3 million for the 'results' show. They're still huge figures for Channel 4 but that's hardly surprising given Peter Kay's track record and fan base.
I was interested to see that the Guardian's blogger found that 50% of people in the office hated it.
I didn't hate it. I just didn't laugh at it.
In contrast, this audition from the real X Factor this year never fails to make me laugh.