Kick off the fes­tiv­i­ties with a guf­faw or three

The Worst Christ­mas of My Life 8pm, ABC

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

IT’S al­ways a dis­as­ter to tell some­one how funny some­thing is be­fore they see it. It kills spon­tane­ity and raises ex­pec­ta­tions, per­haps falsely. It’s like Kev- speak: ‘‘ There is a funny line, and it is this . . .’’

So I’m not go­ing to say that the third minis­eries in The Worst Week of My Life fran­chise is pos­si­bly the fun­ni­est television show since Fawlty Tow­ers. I’m not go­ing to say it has the best phys­i­cal com­edy since that show, or even I Love Lucy, or that its en­dear­ing and sur­pris­ingly large ensem­ble is as com­plete and care­fully con­structed a uni­verse as the one in­hab­ited by the casts of Kath & Kim, Lit­tle Bri­tain , My Name is Earl , The Catherine Tate Show, or any of the other fun­ni­est shows you’ve seen.

For com­edy, like beauty, seems to dwell in the eye — or per­haps the ear, as it is tim­ing re­lated — of the be­holder. It’s best to hap­pen upon it with­out the best gags given away out of con­text.

In The Worst Christ­mas of My Life Ben Miller re­vives his hap­less pro­tag­o­nist Howard, the un­luck­i­est man alive. Howard is not a bad man, he is just our­selves in the mid­dle of a very bad day that has now lasted for two and a bit se­ries. The kind of day that starts badly, gets worse quickly and ends up a to­tal dis­as­ter.

As or­di­nary folks we may write it off to ex­pe­ri­ence and soothe our­selves with a sher­bet or two in the safety of our homes. But for Howard there is no respite. Events con­spire with his in­nate clum­si­ness, made more iden­ti­fi­able by his anx­ious pre­tence at Bri­tish savoir- faire, to shoot him con­stantly in the foot.

In the first se­ries the worst week in Howard’s life was the one be­fore his mar­riage to Mel, played with long suf­fer­ing tol­er­ance giv­ing way to anger and oc­ca­sional hos­til­ity by the won­der­ful Sarah Alexan­der.

In the sec­ond se­ries, against all odds, Howard and Mel move into their own home and are ex­pect­ing their first child.

And now, just in time for the fes­tive sea­son, this three- part minis­eries al­lows us to share a Christ­mas far in ex­cess of the worst we have known. And for most of us that is prob­a­bly say­ing some­thing.

Be­fore Howard

even

makes

it home from the of­fice, where some of the se­ries’ most en­dear­ing char­ac­ters dwell, he en­dures var­i­ous melo­dra­mas of mal­adroit­ness, in­clud­ing be­ing vom­ited on by his boss, suf­fer­ing an elec­tric shock and sub­se­quently be­ing given long, lin­ger­ing and un­nec­es­sary mouth- to- mouth re­sus­ci­ta­tion by an ad­mir­ing male col­league.

And when he gets home? Well it’s a car­ni­val of farce that I’m not go­ing to spoil. Just don’t miss it.

Ian Cuth­bert­son

Jinxed: Ben Miller and Sarah Alexan­der in The Worst Christ­mas of my Life

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