Please can we talk about Harry Hill’s Clubnite?
The big-collared comedian strikes gold with his latest telly outing
2019 has brought about a ludicrous amount of comedy. We’ve seen Fleabag return to stage and screen, just about making peace with the Hot Priest and recognising its casting and content limitations. London Hughes and Sophie Duker made history as the first black women to be nominated for the big Fringe comedy award and newcomer award respectively. We even saw brand new Alan Partridge, and Chris Morris’s first film since the brilliant Four Lions way back in 2010.
Skinny favourites from the year include: the second series of Stath Lets Flats, where hapless Stath doubles down on his near-unintelligible musings and his Dad’s new relationship is only ever accepted with love; Joe Wilkinson’s smutty, childish but deeply funny podcast Gossipmongers which explores all those terrible local rumours (a baby that was born in a welly, anyone?); the best sketch show for years in Tim Robinson’s I Think You Should Leave; as well as Josie Long winging her way home to The Stand for the beautiful Tender, all about new motherhood.
But, the one thing that should be on every comedy lover’s radar is Harry Hill’s Clubnite. Long gone are the days of the genius TV Burp and the sounds of people falling over in the mists of time. Now, Harry’s back with what feels like the closest thing to a late-night Fringe show on TV. There’s more than just an air of Big Night Out about the series, particularly with Hill’s cod-karaoke intro to the shows and mad games interspersed between the acts, and instead of mad characters played by Vic and/or Bob, there’s the hottest alternative comedy acts working in the UK today.
Clearly scouted from the past couple of Fringes, Clubnite is bursting at the seams with hugely diverse comics who are finally getting the opportunities and audiences they deserve. Not only do they diverge from the popular comedy scene, the acts are rich in human diversity too; representative of all abilities, races, sexualities, genders, class. Everything.
It is such a refreshing change to see a leading broadcaster shine a light on typically Apollo-unfriendly acts, particularly those that would otherwise be looked over for airtime due to the classic stream of white, middle-class male stand-ups hogging the screen. And, although it was initially broadcast at 11pm on a Friday night, it will have been seen by those that need it in a sort of ‘Room of Requirement’ way. Had this been broadcast in the early 00s, many more people would have been converts to the church of alternative comedy far, far sooner. To have this as a cherished, first comedy moment would be the dream.
Harry Hill's Clubnite is available on All4; next episode on Channel 4, Fri 22 Nov, 11.05pm