Fetch the butt-plug Mr Cunterblast

WordPress just told me that I missed our anniversary. That means I’m even disappointing software now.

The 15th of January marked a year since I started writing this bullshit, and tradition dictates that I should have gone out and, in a fit of irony that would even trouble the descriptive powers of Alanis Morissette, bought some paper for my blog service.

Remember paper? Crikey, it all seems so long ago.

So in an effort to make WordPress forgive me, tonight I took my blog out for the evening instead. First I took it my ripped-off copy of Wurd to see how many words I’ve typed; and then off to a word-cloud generator to see what it’s been about. I now know that my blog is twice as long as the novel The Life of Pi, and that I’ve spent an unfeasibly long time talking about cancer, sex and Simon Cowell.

(I also know that I’m likely to get arrested by Microsoft for having a ripped off copy of Word, but I spelled it Wurd, which is bound to baffle even the greatest lawyer. And in my defence, practically everyone else on the planet has a ripped off copy of Word too).

As a result of my research into my own blog, I’ve come up with some findings, and have decided to adapt The Naked Mole Rat into a $100 million 3D Bollywood epic, in which I’m stuck in a boat with a CGI version of Simon Cowell and have to decide whether to have kinky sex with him, or give him an aggressive and painful cancer.

It’s a real conundrum.

Actually, it’s not much of a conundrum. Simon’s getting no sweet, sexy lurve from me, which leaves him with the choice of death or death. A nation grieves. But the reason he’s not getting sweet, sexy lurve from me is because at least one of us (OK, let’s face it, it’s exactly one of us) is a raging heterosexual. And because all my romance is being directed to the lady in my life, who repays it by manipulating my head, as can be seen in this graphic depiction of our relationship.

She's so manipulative.
She’s so manipulative.

I rarely speak about my private life in detail, but for once I’m going to spill my beans and tell you that our relationship is about to go to new places. Specifically, Scotland.

I’m very fond of Scotland, and of all the people from there who I’ve met. I can’t say it’s been a representative sample, or that they’ve liked me very much. But I liked them.

It’s unrepresentative because I tend to meet Stots when, in exchange for a stuffed sheep’s stomach and a night in their bothy, I give them with enough money to buy a small island up there (approximately £78). And that kind of transaction always brings out the best in people.

And it’s hard to say if they liked me because it’s often hard to understand a bloody word they’re saying.

But I still like them. I like their attitude. On a drive up in the highlands once, I stopped at one of the tiny all-purpose stores you often find in deeply remote areas. It was a post office, off license, petrol station, butcher, fishing supplies depot, lumber-merchant and record shop. (Not a greengrocer. It is Scotland after all, and if you want to eat greens they’ll contemptibly direct you to a tuft of thistle by the roadside). The shop had the obligatory wall dedicated to tartan and shortbread, and an entirely startling wall dedicated to Native American Dreamcatchers, which seemed unusual until you realise how many Americans visit Scotland, and how gullible they are.

The shop was miles from the nearest plumbing, and the only member of staff was a short, incomprehensible object of indeterminate sex, radioactively ginger, and with webbed fingers and an advanced case of athlete’s head. So I didn’t hold out much hope when I asked to use the bathroom. It was in a lean-to against the side of the shop, and I expected a wet hole in the floor, at best. But in fact it was a fully fitted bathroom and shower, with soaps and shampoos and fresh towels laid out for anybody who needed them, and, wonderfully, a small pile of socks beneath a sign saying “help yourself”.

The climate up there puts pressures on anyone daring enough to be caught outdoors, and a shower and warm, dry socks can turn a walker’s life around. I’m taking the piss out of Scots because I take the piss out of everybody: but the shower, towels and socks were provided with generosity, and I honestly have no expectation of anything less from people in the top half of the British Isles.

I hate to say it but that open, welcoming, selfless approach to life becomes more common the further north from Westminster you get. Actually, I didn’t hate to say it at all: I like it. I like the fact that true human nature emerges if you simply leave people alone to be people, rather than forcing them to be greedy brutes in a greedy, brutal capital city. Whereas in the wilds of Scotland they have a different attitude: if you don’t hang together you’ll probably hang separately. So be nice.

I’ve expressed this opinion to people in the South of England, and been told that I’m a mad socialist fuckwit who is living in the 70s, and that the Scots are all violent thugs and a drain on the poverty-stricken folks of Surrey. And I’ve reported those conversations to people in bars in Scotland, and been told that the Scots don’t actually hate the English: they just hate the southern English.

Not that I’m any more romantic about Scots than I am about my anniversary with WordPress or my forthcoming week up there with my girlfriend. We’re going to be there on Valentine’s Day, but that’s just an embarrassing scheduling error. We’d both forgotten Saint Valentine existed (because he didn’t – even the Pope who canonised him recognised that “nothing is known about his life”).

Anyway, this 14th Feb there will be no violins or flowers, and I’m not just saying that cos she’ll read this blog, and I want to lay a false trail. The best she can hope for is that I won’t tie the ropes too tight, and will clean the ball-gag before it’s applied. And the best I can hope for is that she’ll apply plenty of lube before she does that thing to me with the object that’s slightly bigger than it looked on LoveHoney.

Other than that, it’ll be the usual mixture of visceral abuse about my hairy back, six-hour fights about how the duvet is shared out, and vain attempts to make her murder look like a tragic accident. I’ll be as cheeky as a 6-foot six-year-old can be, and she’ll respond with a torrent of abuse and profanity, and many, many slaps about the head and neck. I just hope I can persuade her to save her filthy mouth and spanking until we get indoors and naked, where her vocabulary is rich, varied, and remarkably inventive. I flatter myself that I have a wide lexicon and a seedy mind, but she still manages to startle me rigid. It’s a rigidity which comes in handy, when it works.

Damn being old!

I’m not old old, not like the mad racist who lives upstairs and must be avoided at all costs. We popped round to ask if he needed anything from the shops during the recent snow, but after 3 hours all we’d learned was that black people are ruining this country. I’m not there yet, and you have my permission to throw me down a well if I do. But I’ve reached the point at which my body starts to disintegrate, and indeed I got a head-start with the cancer that kicked off this blog a year ago. I’m grateful to the doctors, but have decided to never see one again after accidentally catching an episode of House.

Hugh Laurie, House
No wonder he’s grumpy: he’s wrong almost all the time.

This week, a man went to see House with hiccups, and after getting his diagnosis wrong five times the so-called “best diagnostician in America” finally worked out that the man’s marriage was doomed, along with his liver. He did this in much the same way as the people in CSI solve crimes, and the people in Church work out how the universe was created: random guesswork and a lot of mumbo-jumbo. This week’s patient thought he had hiccups, but apparently he had something which, from memory, had 3000 syllibals and ended in “itis”, and which every actor on set looked proud to have memorised.

I don’t know why anyone goes to see House anyway. He diagnoses patients without even seeing them, is wrong 9 times out of 10, and it’s pretty much always cancer. So House’s oncologist mate could solve the problem anyway, if he wasn’t too busy being slightly cross-eyed and wetter than a turbot’s handbag. And when the guest-star disease isn’t cancer, it’s something you’ve never heard of; so it’s a bit like reaching the end of The Usual Suspects and being told the villain is a Mr Ted Cunterblast, a total stranger who wasn’t mentioned during the previous 2 hours.

Ted Cunterblast is mentioned by Hugh Laurie though, in his previous career as a purveyor of amusing japes and elaborate swearing with Stephen Fry. (If you’ve never seen their terrific sketch show, imagine Armstrong and Miller, but with Armstrong and Miller being replaced by somebody who can be arsed doing a different sketch every week).

My girlfriend could learn a lot from Fry and Laurie, and I fully expect her to call me Ted Cunterblast upon our next meeting. Although part of me hopes she saves her filthy mouth until we’re on our own in a bothy in Scotland, so there isn’t a repeat of that time she loudly called me a twat in the children’s section of Ikea. I don’t think the Scots are ready for her vocabulary.

Of course, it’s perfectly possible the Scots have learned how to swear by now. I seem to remember Frankie Boyle using a bad word once, and Billy Connolly too. Not as bad as the word I used about him today, when I read this article in the Guardian, in which he was given a free £5,000 holiday and then proceeded to bitch and moan about the whole thing. Well don’t fucking go then! Give the money to some poor kids from Glasgow.

The acquisition of large amounts of money seems to turn even the best person into an utter bastard. Take Sean Connery, a man who bestrides Scotland like a colossus… from his home in tax haven of The Bahamas, where he pays not a penny in tax to support the nation for whose independence he vigorously campaigns. Why do so many nationalists have such a strong objection to spending any money at all on the country they claim to love? The Tories are the same, wrapping themselves in the Union Flag and bellowing at Johnny Foreigner for having the temerity to introduce laws to protect British jobs. But ask that noble, blue-rinsed defender of the UK to pay a single penny more tax to fund his own country, and he’ll let his wife out of the kitchen long enough to fetch his shotgun and let the dogs out on you.

I do find it galling to have the Tories “protecting” Scotland from independence at the same time they insist on “protecting” Scotland from the support of Europe. The EU seems to have funded 90% of the bridges north of the border, and if I were a Scot I’d kick England out, get married to Europe, and stay happy. If they do, I’m going to campaign for Manchester to be officially recognised as a district of Dundee, cos I don’t want to be trapped here with David Cameron.

So there you have it: my 91st blog, and the end of my first year as a blogger. Next year it’s the cotton anniversary and I’m going to get WordPress some knickers, but the year after that it’s the leather anniversary. Stick with me, cos then the filthy sex will really start to get interesting!

High maintenance? I won’t fiddle with your knobs.

Thanks to Baggage Girl for asking the question: “Is high maintenance off-putting in a girl?”

When I was at school my friends and I would occasionally sneak out at lunchtime, buy a pie, and go to one of their homes for a cup of tea.

Well, I say “buy a pie”, but the truth is that my school had a tradition which might be unique: the meat and potato pie sandwich.

Is there are more gruesome description in the whole of gastronomy than non-specific “meat”? Even ignoring the horrors disguised by that blandishment, the meat and potato pie sandwich was a monstrosity. You bought a microwaved Holland’s pie, sprinkled Beef Monster Munch on top of it, drizzled it with brown sauce, and stuck the whole thing into an oven-bottom muffin. It was about 5 inches thick, and at least 3 inches of that was fat.

Well, the blood had been simply racing through our arteries, we had to take measures to slow it down.

One one occasion we scarfed down our heart-attack butty, and went to a friend’s house to watch the only Australian soap opera shown back then: The Flying Doctors. It was phantasmagorically weird: everybody was orange, the furniture was yellow, and the interiors of the aeroplanes appeared to be made out of Papiermâché and twice the size of the exterior. People wore far too many hats considering it was 1985, and hats had died out 30 years previously in the rest of the world. And it moved even slower than our blood after the pie sandwich. In fact, the scenery seemed to move more than the plot did.

The first time I saw it, it featured the following priceless dialogue.

Ocker child: Aw daad, can I go to the ball in long traaazers?

Ocker dad: Yer too yang son, yer too yang.

Ocker child: Aw daaaaad, can I? Can I?

Ocker dad: No son, yer too yang. Yer just too yang.

A month later I saw it again, and the same conversation was still going on. By the time the ball happened, I’m sure the child was asking his dad if he could go on his walking frame. Maybe my sense of humour is a bit Royal Tenenbaums, but I found the “stately” pace and non-plot incredibly funny.

Having said that, I don’t think I’m a natural soap opera fan. The Flying Doctors might not be the greatest example of a soap, but even the (supposedly) good ones make me want to pull my bottom lip over my face and suffocate on my own gums. It’s the “drama”. The endless, endless “drama”.

I should explain that there’s a difference between drama and “drama”. The former appears in quality programme such as The Wire, Mad Men or The Sopranos. Drama, without quote marks, indicates actual characters, realistic behaviour, and a sense that it’s telling you something important about the way we live today.

Whereas “drama” is just a lot of noise. It’s weddings on Christmas day. It’s transsexual farmers falling off the roof onto their own ex-wife, who should have known better than to be there, because the whole thing was previewed in the Daily Mirror. It’s a man with a head like a boiled sweet wheezing his way through a dalliance with homosexuality, and then “getting better” in time to marry his own long-lost sister, while negotiating for the purchase of the newsagent under which he buried his grandmother’s rapist after toppling a bookcase on him during one of Manchester’s many earthquakes and plane crashes.

It’s gibberish. It fills up your life with bullshit, which is religion’s job thank you very much. And I don’t want a life full of bullshit. I don’t like it. I don’t like it on my TV, and I certainly don’t like it in my life.

And that’s why I’m not a fan of high maintenance people. They’re like living with a soap opera. There’s so much “drama”, and it is, to quote the Bard, a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

I have a friend who loves high maintenance girls, and actively seeks out people who “generate sparks”. He likes it because it means they bang heads all the time, and constantly have scraps, and slam doors, and squabble, and live like they’re in a particularly ratings-chasing episode of EastEnders. He says it’s good because eventually they make up and have passionate, angry sex.

He’s been divorced 3 times. He hasn’t learned yet.

Me, I can drum up some passionate, angry sex without all the passion and anger. In fact, if there’s too much passion and anger outside of the bedroom, I just feel tired and a bit headachey in the bedroom, and I’d rather just go to sleep, thank you.

And if you are high maintenance, don’t expect somebody else to fix you.  The human body is what’s called a “homeostatic system”. This means that it attempts to revert to its proper state when you tinker with it. Cuts mend. Bruises heal.

If you have too much sugar, your body will try to gather it up, turn it into a soft brown soup, and try to make it slither down the back of your leg before you get to the toilet. If you rub caffeine-enhanced creams onto your face to fight off the sag, your body will hoover up that caffeine and throw it away so it can restore the natural chemical balance, and you will have wasted your money on more of Laboratoire Garnier’s exciting made-up science. (In fact as far as I know, caffeine can’t be ingested via the skin anyway, so you really are wasting your money).

Any attempt to change the chemical constituents of your body will be resisted. Because, as the name implies, a homeostatic system is static. It wants to remain as nature intended.

And it’s the same with your personality. If you need maintaining, don’t expect an outside agent to do it for you. Happiness can’t be found in another person, it can only be reflected. I can come along and twiddle with your knobs (so to speak), and improve your mood – but only temporarily. You’ll return to your own mood unless you make an effort to change it yourself. And that’s not easy, but is always worth the effort.

For a while I thought I had once managed to change. Like a lot of people I was pretty depressed during my teens, but one day I woke up, realised I was really annoying myself, and decided not to be sad any more. And that was it. I was totally cured.

For a long time I thought that was how to fix depression: just decide not to be depressed. But I was naive, and having lived with a sufferer I know now that depression is a lot more complex. My determination not to be sad probably coincided with my hormones balancing out, and my “just say no” theory is a load of blather.

But I earnestly believe you can change yourself from a high maintenance person. You just have to stop thinking about yourself so much, and think about somebody else instead. You can do this with a little practice, I’m sure of it. And when you do, you’ll be happier about yourself, and will find it easier to meet somebody who is happy with you.

If I care about you, and you care about me, that’s everyone covered, everyone loved, and nobody needs maintaining any more. I’m not Gandhi, but I think that’s a pretty good philosophy for life.

Why do I own a TV?

TV can be a place for excitement and art and joy and knowledge.

Remember The Singing Detective? Quatermass? House of Cards, or Edge of Darkness?

What about BlackAdder, or The Sopranos, or Our Friends In The North?

Talking Heads?

Oranges are Not The Only Fruit?

Doctor Who?

Of those, only Doctor Who remains (and it’s close cousin, Sherlock, which is often described as “Doctor Who for adults”, but which is essentially Doctor Who without the TARDIS).

Now all of that is gone, and our schedules are caked in shite. Too many channels spreading too little budget and talent far too thinly. I spent a good portion of last night searching for something – anything – worth watching. I have access to 50 channels. Not one of them showed anything good.

Instead, they showed variations on the following tropes.

The football programme

Thank God our airwaves are filled with this. If they didn’t regularly tell us that we had to be excited about Who Is Best At Kicking Things, we’d never feel obliged to pay £250,000 a week to Wayne Rooney.

Except, of course, we already know Who Is Best At Kicking Things. They have a competition once every four years to decide it. It’s called The World Cup. Apparently right now Spain are Best At Kicking Things, and will be until someone new is decided in 2014.

When scientists prove something in an experiment, they don’t keep on experimenting. Isaac Newton didn’t slump under a tree being bombarded with apples for 90 minutes every Saturday afternoon. So why the endless testing of Who Is Best At Kicking Things? And why does it have to be on my TV?

The reality programme

Perhaps the drugs have permanently altered my reality, but I’m rarely – if ever – locked in a house with 12 flamboyant strangers, or bellowed at by Alan Sugar if I fail to sell enough raspberry jam. For me, reality is getting up, drinking tea, working, and watching TV. If I’m lucky, I’ll find the energy to masturbate, but I don’t think that makes great television: it even repulses me, it’d certainly make your entire stomach leap out of your mouth, like a toad.

I’m sick of reality. Peter Bazalgette is responsible, he’s the dementor who brought us Big Brother. His great-great Grandfather was Sir Joseph Bazalgette, inventor of London’s sewer system. One generation pumps shit out of our lives, another pumps it right back in.

The soap programme

I saw the last 30 seconds of EastEnders once. A man with a head like a radish was wheezing “Get dahn them stairs, you slaaaag” at a crying woman. Apparently, this is pretty much all that happens in EastEnders.

I once had to sit through a whole episode of Coronation Street. It consisted of one-dimensional camp stereotypes talking about a sex change operation. Apparently, this is pretty much standard for Corrie too.

I haven’t seen Emerdale. I doubt I’m missing anything.

But if I was missing anything, I’m sure I could catch up. Corrie has been on TV for [checks watch] fifty-thousand years, and I’m sure I could catch up on the plot in less than a week. Which tells you something about how utterly wasted those last fifty-thousand years were. Nothing of note happened. So why make it?

The cooking programme

Cooking is a chore. You do it because you have to eat. Sometimes you do it well, and sometimes you stab the film lid on a lasagne and bung it in the microwave.

What’s next: the ironing programme? Five amateur ironers line up to be abused and judged by Rosemary Jewelcase, who irons the Duchess of Kent’s knickers and is a world-renowned expert in getting to that awkward bit in the middle of a double duvet cover? Oh, fuck off with your cooking programme.

The quiz programme

I’ve got little-or-no problem with a proper quiz. University Challenge. Only Connect. Mastermind. You get people in a room. and ask them stuff. But why do we have to have over seven hundred of the bloody things, with seven hundred minutely different formats?

And why do they all have to have celebrity specials? What’s so good about the bloke who tells you the weather during the graveyard shift on News 24? Why is he a celebrity? If you want a celebrity show, get Jack Nicholson and Kofi Annan to make up a team on Pointless. If it’s just some bloke you spotted in the BBC canteen, that really is pointless.

The cop programme

He’s a rebel. He doesn’t follow the rules.

Or he’s got a unique insight into the dastardly mind of the serial killer.

Or he lives in the 1950s, even though it’s present day.

Or he drives an interesting car and listens to jazz.

Or he’s a she, or Welsh, or non-white. Good God, whatever next?

Occasionally it’s a procedural show, which purports to show what the police actually do, but somehow always ends up with an office affair, and never with a complaint about sexual harassment or a bribe from News International.

Or they’re American, and exist in crime HQ which is moodily lit by the police’s own crack team of cinematographers, and employs only devastatingly good-looking people… except for one cranky actor in his twilight years, who is brought in to lend a sheen of respectability to the whole farce. Oh, and they always have magic computers which solve the crime for them in exactly 1 hour (minus 18 minutes of adverts).

The only genuinely great TV cop show is The Wire, which isn’t about cops really – it’s about a whole city, the drugs industry, and the failure of capitalism. The rest of them are just episodic disappointments.

The property programme

Are you rich, middle-aged, middle class, white, married, and own an architectural practice or have recently retired? Do you own a vast house in Surrey, and need to sell it to buy an even vaster house in Norfolk, plus a flat in Kensington?

Then we’ve got the perfect show for you!

The rest of us can just fuck off.

Did you know – and this is genuinely a fact – that a person on an average wage needs to save 50% of their disposable income for 47 years to afford the deposit on an average-priced house? But the previous generation did just fine, thank you, and now they’re being shown around palatial villas by unctuous bastards like Phil and Kirsty, both of whom are major donors to the Tory party, and relish the vast inequality their industry and their politics have thrust upon the rest of us. Phil? Kirsty? Come here, I have a guillotine with your name on it.

The science programme

You know who watches programmes about science? Clever people who like a mental challenge. You know who doesn’t? Stupid people who like to be spoon fed.

So why make science programmes for idiots? They won’t watch them, and the people who do want to watch them end up feeling short-changed and patronised. How many times do we need Brian Cox to tell us that the universe is big? We know it’s big. Explain the maths behind leptons, or get off  my fucking TV.

The arts programme

Oh good, here’s Andrew Graham-Dixon with the latest news about all the arts that are happening in London. And here’s Clemency Burton-Hill, with more news about all the music events that are happening in London. Wait, here comes Mark Kermode, telling us about the film events happening in London. Followed by Tom Dykoff, telling us about the architectural celebrations happening in London.

London London London London London (brief pause for Edinburgh) London London London London London.

Thank the sweet lord for all that arts coverage. Oh, one small comment: fuck off.

The panel programme

Jimmy Carr says some hilarious things about fat politicians, or about female politicians who don’t meet his standard of hotness and availability for anal sex. The guest presenters have their reactions carefully edited to appear mildly shocked. No amount of editing can prevent the team captains from looking bored, but they fulfil their contractual obligations, and everyone feels good about things except for everybody not paid to appear on the programme.

Come back next week, when exactly the same thing will happen, but this time with Jamelia instead of Lorraine Kelly.

The dancing and singing programme

Oh, can I even be bothered? Is there any bile to spew about this that hasn’t already been spewed. Mind you “second-hand intestinal discharge” is a fair description of this crass bullshit.

Simon is the Karaoke Sauron, and must be destroyed. I suspect that his “ring” already is. I’d have respect for him if he’d just come out, but having all that power and money and influence, and still being in the closet just stinks. What’s the opposite of a role-model? Well, that’s Simon.

I don’t care which minor celebrity dances better than another minor celebrity, or which once-proud newsreader or politician is now being dragged around the dancefloor by a brillianteened Russian gigalo. But I’m actually too tired to even be angry about it any more. I just want it all to end. Please, I’m begging you, make it end.

Arrested Development: the greatest show on earth

Arrested Development is the greatest television show ever made.

There. I said it.

If you look at lists of great TV, there are many fine shows that I absolutely love. The Wire was a phenomenal examination of how drugs affect our lives, and grew over five astonishing seasons into a novelistic view of an entire city, its inhabitants, politics, schools, media, and it’s slow, agonising decline. It was majestic, truthful, nuanced, tough, sophisticated, and ought to be on every curriculum there is. The world’s politicians should be made to sit down and watch it, as it rubs their noses into what their capitalist system is doing to those at the tough end. It’s almost unbeatably good television.

The Sopranos was consistently stupendous: complex, powerful, dark, funny, endlessly entertaining, and with a stunning central performance. James Gandolfini was electifying even when he was just shovelling pasta into his face. I even loved the last 30 seconds, which few people really “got”.

In Britain we have a wonderful history of great programming: The Singing Detective, Blackadder, Attenborough and much more. We should be intensely proud of them all.

But above everything else is Arrested Development, simply the funniest sitcom ever. And you’ve probably never heard of it. But you should have. Go to Amazon this instant, and buy all three glorious seasons. Are you still here? You should be on Amazon!

Arrested Development follows the Bluth family, three generations of money-grubbing, lazy, stupid, insensitive, racist, selfish, incestuous, treacherous bastards, being held together by Micheal, the only sane one, and the only one who’s ever done a day’s work.

The programme is incredibly fast-moving, and every episode has as much farcical plotting as 3 whole seasons of any other sitcom. It plays brilliantly with the expectations of TV, comments on the terribly management decisions at Fox which brought about its cancellation, and features omniscient narration by Ron Howard, perky and gleeful as he dishes the dirt on this terrible bunch of crooks.

I must have watched every episode a dozen times, and still find new jokes. Literally every single day I find myself laughing outloud at some line or joke or chicken impression from the show. I often giggle in the supermarket, and find myself needing to grab the people who are staring at me and tell them they must watch it as a matter of urgency.

Who’s in it? Who isn’t in it!

  • Jason Bateman
  • Micheal Cera
  • Jeffrey Tambor
  • Liza Minnelli
  • Ben Stiller
  • Charlize Theron
  • Carl Weathers
  • Gary Cole
  • Heather Graham
  • Ron Howard
  • Will Arnett
  • Portia de Rossi
  • Scott Baio
  • Ed Begley, Jr.
  • Zach Braff
  • Rob Corddry
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus
  • Judy Greer
  • James Lipton
  • Amy Poehler
  • Frankie Muniz
  • Judge Reinhold
  • Martin Short
  • And a cast of thousands

But don’t imagine this is Friends, with a series of guest cameos. Charlize Theron plays – there’s no other way to say it – a simpleton. Ben Stiller is an utter arsehole of a magician. Liza Minelli plays a vertigo sufferer who collapses every time she has to turn around. Martin Short plays a 93-year-old body builder who vomits when he’s shaken.

It’s just brilliant. Do yourself a favour. You won’t regret it.