26 December 2020 10:38
What with it being Christmastide and everything, I thought it'd make a nice change to be generous to Mrs Brown's Boys. After all, it has been a fixture of our TV schedules for about a decade; it is undeniably popular, running longer as a prime Christmas Day BBC attraction than Morecambe and Wise or Only Fools and Horses; and it's innovative, casually breaking the fourth wall and luxuriating in its bloopers. Then I watched Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas Special: Mammy of the People, and I was reminded just how gruesome the comedy is. I'll concede that I smiled at one of the jokes for the first time ever. Agnes Brown (Brendan O'Carroll) is mooching around her kitchen complaining about the idiots who've been out panic buying, and as she does so, every cupboard she opens is stuffed full of loo roll.
It's not much, but it just goes to show that even the simplest touch of irony can lift even the heaviest of comedic loads. But, like an announcement about test and trace by Matt Hancock, it was a false dawn, and I should have realised it. Soon enough, we are shoved right up Grandad's (Dermot O'Neill) arse as Agnes tries to locate his testes. I know, strange place to mislay them, but there you go. It's because Agnes has misheard daughter Cathy asking whether Grandad had had his test results back. It's broad, crude humour, and there's nothing wrong with that, but it just doesn't "work", even with O'Carroll gurning for the Irish Olympic team. It's all so unnecessarily weak, the writing. It's almost as if they set out to create something so nonsensical (in a bad way) that you can't go with it. Like Agnes being selected by Buckingham Palace to make a Christmas address to the nation (just about credible for a sitcom), but then the Palace following it up with another letter stating that Agnes is disqualified because the Queen's private secretary suddenly remembered that Ireland isn't in the Commonwealth (which is a plot twist that doesn't come off). Anyway, it doesn't stop a blizzard of "anus horribilis" jokes, none of which were that good when they first appeared in 1992. I'd call it lazy. Along the way, the cast also murder The Pretenders' "I'll Stand By You", and there is some problematic and unfunny smut about a flasher named Knickie Knackie Dickie. In the little closing homily, Mammy reviews the "anus", and declares, "Thank God for comedy." I can't argue with that, but Mrs Brown's Boys is about as funny as a case of long Covid.