Review

What Went Right With… Chewin’ The Fat?

A review of sketch show Chewin' The Fat by What Went Wrong Or Right With...? for whatwentrightwith.com

Chewin’ The Fat was a hilarious sketch show which aired on the telly back in the early 2000s. The cast featured comedians Ford Kiernan, Greg Hemphill, Karen Dunbar, Paul Riley, and Mark Cox and it was written by Kiernan and Hemphill with additional material from Still Game’s Sanjeev Kohli and Burnistoun’s Iain Connell and Robert Florence.

The way in which Chewin’ The Fat was edited (never repeating a character in the same episode, at least as far as I can remember) it never felt repetitive like some sketch shows do. Most of the recurring characters were also endearing so you wanted to see what else they’d say or get up to the following week. The show did look and feel somewhat low budget but that was part of its charm. That being said, every single location was used with a sense of frugality to get the maximum bang for the buck.

Chewin’ The Fat was chock-full of down to earth and therefore believable characters. Some of my personal favourites were Bob and Alan, the two salesmen working for an electronic store who while pressurising shoppers with their unique back-and-forth patter, offended and turned off most buyers…

There were the Banter Boys, two very camp, upper-middle class men who relished in hearing the sound of “common” Glaswegian accents (and who paid for the pleasure)…

There were the fishermen who inserted as many double entendres as possible into their fishing glossary of terms. These were particularly side-splitting as many of the words they used sounded believable…

Ronald Villiers (an appallingly bad actor who ruined every scene he appeared in) was a classic character. Talking in a low, monotone voice as he attempted another take, even his talent agency Widdecombe And Pump was a humorous name and you waited for him to mention them every week…

There was Mr. Simpson, the man who whistled the “s” when he spoke (like the gopher in Winnie The Pooh) only to amuse everybody around him…

There was also Betty, the elderly lady always sat with her legs akimbo whose only recollection of the World War was how much sex she’d had…

Rab McGlinchy, a translator for the news, was very reminiscent of old-school comedy by the likes of the Two Ronnies (or even the “Jive Talk” scene in Airplane)…

There was the fantastic character of an uptight Chemistry teacher who looked visibly uncomfortable every time the topic of sex came up. When she was invariably chastised by the children in her class (who brought up the topic knowing her dislike of it) her catchphrase “Right… that’s enough of that!” made for a predictable yet hilarious conclusion…

Harry, Linda, and George made for a brilliantly observed sketch whereby a verbally abusive husband constantly rowed and picked on his wife as his friend tried his best to defend her. Harry, the husband always ended up as the punchline as wife Linda and best friend George had the last laugh…

There’s of course many more memorable characters on the show including the old men in the pub who sing songs with rude lyrics, the woman who imparts gossip over the telephone about her husband Derek (who by all accounts is a right bastard but she doesn’t seem to realise), there’s a lonely shopkeeper who tries to wheedle her way into people’s lives, there’s the practical joking lighthouse keepers (one of which who doesn’t appreciate the other’s pranks), there’s also the Gaelic sock-puppets, and there’s the various adverts parodying European tat including shite music compilations from the ’80s. Save to say, there’s many characters and scenes that are comedy classics, up there in the pantheon of great sketch comedy.

Chewin’ The Fat actually got funnier in the latter series which rarely happens on comedy programmes. And speaking of rare comedy feats, Still Game is perhaps the only time that a spin-off series is as good if not better than the original. If you’ve seen series 7 of Still Game on the BBC recently but aren’t aware of its origins, you should definitely see where the characters came from.

Unfortunately the DVD for Chewin’ The Fat (the individual series as well as the box set) is now deleted but the show is on Netflix for everybody to check out. If you enjoy sketch shows such as The Fast Show, The Real McCoy, Kids In The Hall, In Living Color, The Micallef Programme, The Morgana Show, and Burnistoun, you should definitely watch this show.

Full Fat.

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