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The League Against Tedium

Radio 1
1997 (six programmes; final programme transmitted seven weeks after programme five)

After Alan Parker -- Roadwarrior, Simon Munnery evidently felt he had extracted as much mileage (literally) as possible from his Alan Parker character, and so built this next series around his other great stand-up persona, the League Against Tedium.  Despite the name, the League is in fact a single individual, though he would doubtless claim otherwise: in contrast to the ultra-left-wing Alan, the League is a fascist, clearly influenced by Nietzsche, who spends his time railing against the paucity of all other living beings and addresses his listenership with an engaging "Attention scum!  You are nothing!  Absolutely nothing!"

Munnery has been touring the character around the country for several years now, both in solo stand-up spots (he was once to be heard in the Comedy Network series) and as the compère of a bizarre stage show, entitled ‘Cluub Zarathustra’, containing other, equally strange characters performed by a team including Sally Phillips, Roger Mann, Kevin Eldon and Stewart Lee (most of whom would appear in this series).  The League’s most recent appearances, however, have been solo.

Despite their political differences, Alan Parker and the League have certain similarities: they are both shouting monomaniacs, and both have a very neat line in self-defeating slogans catchphrases.  These provided the best moments of this show: the League, unlike Alan, is never brought face to face with his own uselessness, and is thus even more bombastic and irrelevant.  "Ah dow not spik lich yow, bekoch ah am not lich yow" he proclaims, boldly affirming his renunciation of the corrupt and weak-willed phonetics of modern society.  "Some people can’t see the wood for the trees," he comments, as part of a run-down on his greatest thoughts and sayings, "I can see the wood and the trees-- and a small village beyond.  And what is more, I have a flamethrower!"

Away from the sloganeering, though, some of the material (such as a musically-accompanied account of 'Samson Samson Samson-Lee, the greatest waiter in the world') was more bemusing than amusing; in presentational terms this series was a considerable improvement on the last couple of Alan Parker series, mainly thanks to the highly eccentric, but appropriate, use of music.  In some ways this anticipated Chris Morris’s Blue Jam -- as did many of the sketch features, such as the conversation of two men spending their whole working day determining the amplitude, frequency and modulation quality of members of the public’s farts.  The League Against Tedium, coincidentally, was the last series to be transmitted in Radio 1’s regular 9pm comedy slot, and so no more comedy was broadcast on the station until the first series of Blue Jam six months later.

See also: The Now Show
External links: A collection of the League’s thoughts and sayings at Stuart Leitch’s Disaster Area

© JB Sumner 1998