[In this week's Video Pix, Lisa Christiansen, a CBC radio host, and her daughter Emma, a Grade 11 student, raise the curtain on a new UK comedy vid duo.]
Lisa: With plumy accents and a bucolic setting, teenage bad boys Raph Von Blumenthal and Sam Baron from that dirty urban hot spot, Cambridge, England, arguably create the chorus of the year with "tea motherf$%^@, tea motherf@#$%^" in "Lazy Sunday UK." (Warning, this one is full of obscenity).
Emma: "Lazy Sunday" the Narnia rap was made by Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell on SNL, which must have been e-mailed around to everyone at least a couple of times. Those videos, which made Andy Samberg famous, also launched the two British teens: Sam Baron (cousin of Sacha Baron Cohen -- a.k.a. Ali G and Borat), who had already made one feature film and two documentaries all before the age of 19, and his partner Raph Von Blumenthal. They made "Lazy Sunday UK" a couple of years ago, and since then have been getting their own buzz for it and their new vids.
Lisa: The duo is brave enough not to try and be anyone else but who they are while offering a different point of view -- which is the secret to successful comedy.
And it's why, in a way, they remind me of Kids in the Hall. I remember their "Bank People" sketch and finding it perfectly astute and funny.
Even though it's now 20 years old I can still remember discovering the Canadian comedy troupe one night while watching TV. Years of watching sketch comedy teams from Monty Python (like the "Dead Parrot" sketch) to SCTV (like the parody of CBC's upcoming news shows) and all the Saturday Night Live casts had made me a fan of absurdist social commentary. But I especially liked the Kids because these five guys from Toronto looked like my friends, and saw the world in a way I understood. And each week CBC presented their skewed ideas and seemingly didn't censor their creativity. And so far so good for Sam and Raph too -- there's no censorship happening on the Internet, unless of course you try and read or watch this at work!
Emma: Blumenthal and Baron also made a fake sitcom pilot,"Tom's Life" which is good. But it's their interviewing that's their real skill. Their style is similar to Rick Mercer; there are just no unsuspecting American victims.
In other vids, Blumenthal and Baron drill people with questions at a climate change protest . . .
. . . and at the final Harry Potter book release.
They have a way of asking quick, smart questions. And they keep coming up with new ones on the spot with a very confident style -- something most people could never do -- and that's what makes it funny in a kind of squirm in your seat way. (And when Raph goes on his "We love Bush! Bush is God!" rant, you can't help but laugh.)
Lisa: Raph works the crowd and asks the "hippies," as he keeps calling them, pointed questions about their motivation for being at the rally. These boys are smart and don't suffer vague answers from the costumed and sign-baring protestors: Sam wants well thought out, perhaps even scientific, answers. If you're going to march, he seems to be saying, at least have formulated an opinion, and some solutions, before you arrive.
For any parent who has taken their kids to marches (guilty!), it's wise to remember that our kids have had a lot of messages shoved at them in the past few years and are quite rightly suspicious. This may teeter into cynicism in culture generally, but here in these videos, it's just insightful -- and very funny -- commentary.
Some fear a secular age without a God to keep them accountable, I fear a savvy 19-year-old with a microphone and camera asking my opinion.
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