Télé-Québec just finished airing the premiere of Les Appendices, a half-hour rapid-fire sketch comedy show by Québécois 20-somethings that focuses on wordplay and what I can only describe as absurdity.
I was first exposed to this troupe a few years ago at screenings of Tivijournal, a mock news show with mock ads that targetted the media. (Sadly, that troupe has been inactive for almost two years now, though I’m hopeful they’ll come back someday.) Before screenings, they’d show some bonus material, which would include a short episode of Les Appendices.
I didn’t go to comedy writers’ school, so it’s hard to describe the type of comedy involved. Just go to the website, which allows you to see the entire episode for a week, and you’ll see what I mean. (You can also see a repeat Wednesday at 12:30pm)
But as an example, from their premiere: Julien asks Dave if he can play with Dave’s guitar. Dave hands over his guitar, and what follows is a minute-long montage of Julien frolicking outdoors with the guitar, pushing it on a swing and playing hockey with it. It’s this kind of silly wordplay that they excel at.
Aired without a laugh track (and for many good reasons), the series has a good habit of doing a sketch, moving on and then revisiting it a few minutes later for an extra laugh. They cut it off just before it reaches annoying-running-gag level.
The first episode (it’s not clear if they’re going to keep doing this) has a DVD menu theme, with fake behind-the-scenes footage and fake audio commentary. It’s a bit odd for a series premiere, but they make it work. I just hope they go beyond it, because there’s just so many audio commentary jokes you can make.
As someone who watched their before-they-made-it-big episodes (which, sadly, are not online), I have some suggestions for their new show:
- I liked the old opening. The guys would each be shown running out of class, and they’d all jump in the air outside for the cliché frozen-in-mid-jump celebratory picture, only to have it unfreeze and see them tumble to the ground. The new version has the same gag in CGI form, but I find it loses a lot of the punch.
- Tighten it up by just a bit. You can take a single play on words only so far. I know writing dozens of these things every week is hard, but we’re in an ADD world and the more of these you can cram in the better off your show will be.
- Add a female. Sorry, you gotta. You can fake being black, but you can’t fake femaleness. That young lady you were performing with tonight, she seems nice. Add her to your cast permanently. I know she doesn’t have glasses and doesn’t play DND, but we’ll get over that.
Here’s hoping that the series will only improve from here.