She was our Michelle Obama: how Gilda Radner changed comedy for ever

The death of the SNL star 30 years ago robbed the industry of one its finest voices but not before she had blazed a trail for women such as Tina Fey to follow There is no shortage of excellent critical writing about the US comedy scene in the 80s, and John Belushi, Eddie Murphy and Gilda Radner, one of the original cast members of SNL, alongside Chase, Belushi, Aykroyd and others. Although she is comparatively little known today outside comedy circles, back then she was widely assumed to be the future megastar of that group. With her sharp parodies of celebrities and her skill at satirising her own femininity and neuroses, she set the mould for modern female comedians. Without …

How The Big Bang Theory came to rely on over familiar chemistry

Once the geeks got the girls the shows family-friendly comedy was smothered in cosiness Whats the greatest sweeping gender generalisation you can think of? For men, that intelligence equates to social ineptitude? For women, that blond equals dumb? Its amazing that Sheldon Cooper PhD, borderline obsessive-compulsive and utterly lacking in people skills, obviously thanks to his gargantuan IQ. There is physicist Leonard Hofstadter PhD, a self-aware nerd, therefore better with people and less awkward with the ladies. He was only allowed to move in with Sheldon after signing the Roommate Agreement (Roommates must notify each other 12 hours in advance if they wish to have a house guest. If Sheldon turns into a zombie, Leonard cannot kill him.). Round their …

Ramy review sharp comedy series examines Muslim American life

Comedian Ramy Youssef navigates a life between two different cultures in a sensitive, funny and occasionally ingenious show I dont know what Im doing, man, says Ramy, the alter-ego of 28-year-old comedian Ramy Youssef, to a stony kebab shop owner, also an elder at his north New Jersey mosque. Ramy is confused, recently jobless, stinging from a date with a Muslim woman that he botched by locking her into a chaste, wife-and-mother focused stereotype. He admires his parents immigrants from Egypt and Palestine and their unshakable faith in God; he has sex before marriage and will likely try mushrooms someday. And I believe in God. I really do, man theres too many signs, he reaches for words as the elder …

Jimmy Kimmel on Trump: ‘The most narcissistic personality of the year’

Late-night hosts dissected the presidents narcissism, Deutsche Bank loans, and reparations for the descendants of slaves Jimmy Kimmel: Melanias campaign hasnt kicked in After another tumultuous week of news is the Mueller report dropping? Whos running in 2020? Jimmy Kimmel turned to the most reliable source of Trump drama: Twitter. On Wednesday morning, Trump called the Republican strategist George Conway, the husband of his adviser Kellyanne, a whackjob, a stone-cold loser and the husband from hell. I guess Melanias Be Best campaign hasnt quite started to kick in, Kimmel mused, in reference to the first ladys program to end cyberbullying. George Conway fired back on Thursday, calling Trump the worst kind of dumb among other tweets that at this point …

Too many choices: should Netflix make more interactive stories?

After the success of Black Mirrors Bandersnatch, the streaming platform has revealed ambitions to use the decision-making dynamic for future projects Bandersnatch was many things. It was a Black Mirror episode. It was the first seamless, mainstream choose-your-own-adventure TV show. Its possibly how Benedict Cumberbatch pronounces his own surname after a heavy blow to the head. One thing it was not, however, was a one-off. True, Charlie Brooker might have ruled out making any more branching episodes of Black Mirror, Mumbai Bantams Choose Your Own Adventure books of the 80s and 90s, sci-fi overwhelms the list: theres Space and Beyond, Inside UFO 54-40, Prisoner of the Ant People, War With the Evil Power Master, War With the Mutant Spider Ants. …

I was at the Lorena Bobbitt trial 25 years later it still makes me wince

The 90s case of the woman who cut off her husbands penis has been brought vividly to life by an Amazon series. But what was most shocking was the culture clash between the sexes The chocolate penises lingered in the memory. I didnt need a television show to remind me of those. The zoo outside the Virginia courthouse, packed with satellite trucks, local entrepreneurs hawking what we didnt yet call merch (including that phallic confectionery), protestors, campaigners, sympathisers, rubberneckers and assorted hangers-on I remembered that, too. And the snow on the ground, the winter cold that was still there, somewhere in the recesses of my mind. But the more arcane details of the Lorena Bobbitt case, the personalities of the …

Saturday Night Live: Stillers Cohen crosses Haders Jordan

Trumps sad-sack ex-lawyer is rich territory and John Mulaney a fine host: this is the best of the season As expected, we open with Michael Cohen (Ben Stiller) providing testimony to Congress, a turn of events that for any other president would be the most damning and humiliating moment of their lives, but for Trump its just Wednesday. Of all the guest stars the show has tapped to play Trumps cohorts and/or enemies, Stiller is the most consistently funny. Playing up the disgraced lawyers flop-sweat squirliness, hes actually managed to craft a real character, which is more than can be said of Robert DeNiros dull Robert Mueller or even Alec Balwdins hammy Trump. Stiller is able to present Cohen as …