Review: Horne & Corden 1×1

Bad. Oh so bad. What a shame.

In the UK: Tuesdays, 10.30pm, BBC3

I did have a premonition this was going to happen. Ages ago (2007, I think), I caught an episode of Big Brother’s Big Mouth hosted by James Corden and Matthew Horne. It was appalling. Absolutely appalling. I tried to forget it altogether.

So when Gavin & Stacey came around, I had no recollection of having seen either of the two before. It was only when reading about their new BBC3 sketch show, Horne & Corden, and their BBBM gig got mentioned, that it all came flooding back in its horrible glory.

"Oh no. Please don’t let it be like that," I prayed. "Gavin & Stacey was brilliant. Surely they’ve learned and moved on. Surely it’ll be funny."

No. It really wasn’t. In fact, it was so unfunny and joke-free, lovely wife actually fell asleep in the middle of it.

Not a good sign.

It didn’t take us long before we noticed that this wasn’t a fun show. After all, it started with James Corden running around a Saturday Night Live-esque set in a fit of incredible self-congratulation that left something of a bad taste in the mouth.

After a good few minutes of that, it was off to the sketches. Now, Corden and Horne are both really excellent actors. They really are, and they shifted between characters with great skill. Corden’s Ricky Gervais impression was absolutely stunning.

The problem was the scripts. Oh so bad. Just very, very unfunny. A couple raised a smile and I think I laughed once, but they were all very obvious, lacked originality – a Superman and Spiderman sketch? Didn’t Kenny Everett extract every possible bit of humour out of them in the 70s and 80s? – and often had no point whatsoever other than to give Corden and Horne a chance to mess around a bit and get their kit off a lot.

And it was like that for half an hour. Half an hour of the only joke in a sketch being that a war correspondent is a bit camp; that James Corden is a bit overweight; that you can stick Corden and Horne in a perfume ad and it won’t be quite as artistic and sexy as the real thing; that schoolboys tend to draw similarly styled pictures of cocks on things; and so on.

If watching two guys obviously having fun is your thing, even if you’re aren’t, then Horne & Corden is the show for you. But if you actually want jokes or at least comedic writing, then you’re going to have to avoid this like the plague. Is it simply the case that Corden needs Ruth Jones’s writing skills to complement his? I don’t know. But avoid it like the plague unless you fancy a good night’s sleep.

Here’s something that might well be James Corden and Matt Horne on location for their sketch show. Or it might not. Aren’t corporate firewalls a pain in the arse?

  • I was watching the Brit Awards on a Canadian music channel last night. I was wondering why Robbie Williams was making such lame jokes, followed by deafening silence…

  • Couldn’t agree more, Rob. The only people I can think who will enjoy this are fourteen year old boys who are already fans of Gavin and Stacey and are going to embrace any show that uses the word cock a lot. I also (possibly prudishly I don’t know) always feel really really uncomfortable when comedians choose to do scenes with children which are of an overtly sexual nature, like the one where James Corden was the irritating school friend. Good character I thought, but highly unnecessary to simulate him shagging Matthew Horne in front of two little girls. OK. Am probably oversensitive to these matters as I have two girls of similar ages, but it does leave a nasty taste in my mouth, and I think it’s unnecessary, as well as being puerile. I think that was the trouble with alot of this, it felt like the sort of crud my husband and his mates used to write after a few beers when they were students.

  • MediumRob

    I did construct this flowchart for Joe of how I think it’s probably intended:
    Horne & Corden flowchart
    1) Are you over 21?
    If yes, go on to step 2
    If no, be very, very excited. It’s fantastic and will speak to you!
    2) Have you ever seen a TV comedy programme before?
    If yes, go on to step 3
    If no, be very, very excited. It’s full of really original jokes!
    3) Do you find the mere idea of gayness, nudity and men kissing the funniest thing in world history?
    If yes, you’ll love it! It has some real classics!
    If no, this show is not for you
    I’m thinking that with a typical BBC3 audience, this might all be new and fresh, unlike anything they’ve ever seen before since comedy tends to go in cycles and they didn’t catch the end of the last one, being too young n’all. And I suppose it’s almost a service for that demographic, helping them catch up on things that probably aired before they were born. For anyone 25+, though, it’s painful.
    Don’t worry, it wasn’t just you BTW: I thought the “sex and children” scenes were a bit dodgy, too.

  • Simon N

    My son is 14, and he like me found it totally unfunny. We are big fans of Gavin and Stacey and I think that is where these 2 should remain. having said that, James was very good tonight on Comic Relief in his England Football team sketch.
    “Couldn’t agree more, Rob. The only people I can think who will enjoy this are fourteen year old boys who are already fans of Gavin and Stacey and are going to embrace any show that uses the word cock a lot. I also (possibly prudishly I don’t know) always feel really really uncomfortable when comedians choose to do scenes with children which are of an overtly sexual nature, like the one where James Corden was the irritating school friend. Good character I thought, but highly unnecessary to simulate him shagging Matthew Horne in front of two little girls. OK. Am probably oversensitive to these matters as I have two girls of similar ages, but it does leave a nasty taste in my mouth, and I think it’s unnecessary, as well as being puerile. I think that was the trouble with alot of this, it felt like the sort of crud my husband and his mates used to write after a few beers when they were students.”

  • I’ve always felt that Corden was totally overrated anyway. I feel bad about that, having avoided Gavin & Stacey, but anything I’ve seen of Corden reeks of the snowball effect of media hype.
    On the upside, the Comic Relief sketch wasn’t a total washout, was it?

  • You need to watch Gavin & Stacey. You just do. Second series is better than the first, though. Have still to watch the Comic Relief sketch (unless you mean Smithy and the England team) so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

  • @ Siomon N – Glad to hear that not all fourteen year old boys think this is funny.
    @ Rob also glad to hear that I am not turning into a reactionary old prude, which is a bit of a worry at my time in life…

  • There’s no guarantee that I’m not turning into a reactionary old prude either.

  • I thought reactionary prudism only happened when you had children. Probably a debate for another time, but the advent of small people in your life certainly changes your perspective. Don’t think I could edit teenage fiction in quite the gung ho way I used to now. But maybe I’d have turned into a reactionary prude anyway. (Hard to resist that early Roman Catholic indoctrination…)

  • MediumRob

    “I thought reactionary prudism only happened when you had children. ”
    You’re a parent – you think everything is to do with or stems from kids! A lot of things just come about from the equally reliable, life-changing mechanism known as ageing 😉

  • Ha! Touche Rob. I try very hard not to think about everything in terms of the children but they rather take over things. It IS disconcerting, though, to find yourself turning into your mother, and siding more with the grown ups etc. Actually thinking about it my sister who has no children is more of a prude then I am.

  • And also thinking about it further, the reason I assumed people without children wouldn’t turn into reactionary prudes is because they don’t have to watch what they think is a fairly innocuous programme which suddenly turns into a massive cringe moment when you realise it is wildly unsuitable. It’s worse then watching tv with your parents. I genuinely had forgotten how much swearing there was in the Blues Brothers till we watched it with the kids… That sort of thing does tend to turn you into an automatic censoring machine.

  • Anonymous

    [this is good] sorry but does anyone know what school or where the boys are from in the thing where how to draw a cock. pleas eplease help

  • Catherine King

    After watching the first show all the way though I recorded the rest and fast-forwarded to the office sketches and camp weather reporter which I thought were the only ones worth watching. I’d probably loved it all if I was younger and at uni and very drunk. As someone says, they’re clearly having fun, and their influences of The Office and Catherine Tate are clear… just looking forward to series 3 of Gavin and Stacey now! I wonder what Ricky Gervais thinks.. I’d love to see his reaction watching the show.

  • Andrew

    It is shock comedy. It parodizes today’s complete trash television, news, commercials and so forth. If you don’t get the references, you’re out of luck. An extension of AbFab style and Britcom goddess Kathy Burke, the references are the key to the humor.

  • I don’t have a problem with shock comedy – am a big fun of Pulling, which incomprehensibly has been pulled, when this hasn’t – I just found most of what I saw of this series puerile. And as a big fan of both H&C from watching Gavin and Stacey I was disappointed. I’d have probably got most of the refs I’ve I’d bothered to carry on watching.

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