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Yes Sir, I Can Boogie

Radio 4
1999 (four programmes)

An above-average late-night sketch show which dealt mainly, but not exclusively, with themes of disability and disablement.  In handling this issue the programme's originators played their cards quite close to the chest: pre-publicity described the show as "a swipe at the human condition" and (in an ironic reference to one of Yes Sir's characters) "comedy for people who are just a little bit different".  The subtlety was appropriate to a show which took in not only the problems of the physically disabled, but also various widely familiar human problems (with characters such as 'Richard', a painfully sympathetic social phobic who would construct, in his mind, an elegant and tactful articulation of whatever he wanted to say, then end up blurting out the most damaging statement possible in two words or less), and also a significant minority of sketches which seemed entirely unrelated.  Not all of the performers are disabled, and many of the large pool of writers are established contributors to sketch comedy.  Yes Sir should probably be viewed as a mainstream comedy show containing a major contribution from humorists inspired by disabled issues, rather than a disabled-interest show with jokes: its construction cannily avoided any crude categorisation as "the disabled Goodness Gracious Me" (although the first show did open with a classic GGM-style 'inversion sketch', about a theatre with no proper access for the able-bodied, which certainly bears comparison to the legendary 'Going for an English' skit).  The subtlety was rather undermined, however, by some crass continuity trails ("Comedy about disability.  Next").

Yes Sir, I Can Boogie starred Daryl Beeton, Kevin Eldon, Mat Fraser, Simon Greenall, Leila Hackett and Emma Kennedy.  The writers were Eldon, Hackett, George Geoffrey, Bert Tyler Moore, David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Ash Atalla, Bash Doran, Simon Minty, Steve Best, Ricky Gervaise, Simon Blackwell, Jon Holmes, Andy Hurst and Steve Merchant.  Each episode concluded with a performance from the show's most identifiable character, cheesy keyboardist Gavin Staples, who encouraged the audience to sing along with his intolerable song of tolerance: "We're all just a little bit different/ We're all just a bit not the same/ So let's all smile and laugh a lot, in this life we call a game…"


© JB Sumner 1999.  Created 27/6/99