Advantages: Fast paced. laugh a minute humour.
Disadvantages: Might not appeal to those unfamiliar with the Scottish turn of phrase
I missed seeing Chewin the Fat when it was first televised. I don't know if I missed it because I simply missed it or because it wasn't shown in England - we miss out in a lot if Scottish programming down here - why I don't know. It is not as if many of the programmes are 'too local' to be irrelevant to the rest of Britain. After all, the whole of Britain gets Emmerdale and Eastenders, which have a 'local' flavour.
We did however get Still Game. Still Game is a sitcom about two pensioners. As well as the good times, we get to see the sometimes sad and sorrowful sides of their lives. Now what does this have to do with Chewin the Fat? Well many of the characters appearing in Still Game, but Jack and Victor in particular, first appeared in Jack and victor sketches in Chewin the Fat.
Now I am a Still Game fan and it was on one of my internet searches for info on Still Game that I learned of the existence of Chewin the Fat.
Ford Kiernan & Greg Hemphill are the two main players, along with Karen Dunbar, Paul Riley and Mark Cox. Together they go through a range of recurring characters, thus inducing audience familiarity. These characters are included in their own particular flavour of sketch. It is not too different in this sense from something like say The Fast Show.
This type of humour can get repetitive, but the Chewin the Fat team seem to deal with this quite well. Yes, they keep the characters and flavour, but do get a different slant which adds to that vital element of humour that makes us laugh - the unexpected.
It is a Scottish based programme and as such will display traits of Scottishness. One of the sketches that makes a particular point is The Lighthouse Keepers series of sketches. Being bored out of their wits one of the more mischevious keepers constantly plays pranks on the other. His colleagues reply to being pranked is the phrase
"Gonny no dae that".
Where his mate replies "How?"
The pranked replies "Jist Gonny no"
Translated into standard English he is asking his mate
"Will you please refrain from doing that"
"Why" (Scots say 'how' instead of 'why' in some contexts)
A more literal translation being "Going to not do that", which doesn't make sense. Part of the humour being a self-poke at Scottish syntax, but the more overt humour lying in the pranks becoming more daring and devilish to the point where... well I won't spoil it for you.
Big Jock is the loudmouth at the golf club, who is in a position of power and humiliates his club mates. The humour here lies in the lengths he will go to to brag, boast and ultimately put down the other golf-club members. We also laugh because we all know someone like this.
That is actually the basis of much of the humour and the characters - being able to place the characters in the shoes of someone we know.
There is The Lonely Shopkeeper, who is desperate for company and we are made to laugh at the efforts she will go to to snare a customer into conversation and friendship.
There is Betty the Auld Slapper who humourously recounts her tales of the things she did in the war, which earnt her the reputation.
Ronald Villiers is the worst actor in the world. This really is a 'Marmite' character. Some of his sketches bore me to tears and others have me laughing till the tears come. The sketches follow Ronald's exploits to find acting work. He proudly declares at each audition that his Agent is "Widdecombe and Pump". This in itself always gets a laugh - the name Widdecombe sounding a little reminiscent of a rather frumpy politician and the word pump having various saucy meanings in the Scottish dialect from fornicating to farting. The notion of pumping in proximity to Widdecombe carries too much meaning.
The Sniffer is a woman who can smell "shite". She knows when she is being scammed, and when this becomes apparent the camera zooms in on her nostrils, large and twitching. She will then come away with a phrase such as "Aye, I can definitely smell shite" The humour here comes from the fact that the character is portrayed as a typically prim and 'churchey' Scottish woman, who you would never dream would say the word "shite".
Then there is The Fourteen Year Old Boy. I don't know how to put this, so I will be straightforward. The thrust of this sketch is the places and moments where and when the boys parents proudly and loudly proclaim to any one they meet that their boy has just turned fourteen and has just started masturbating!!
I have made a comparison with the Fast Show and if you like the Fast Show, you should like this. The main difference between the two is that Chewin the Fat will often put across elements of Scottish culture and, not so much poke fun at it, but highlight it.
There are a stack of characters across the series to be getting on with. If you have already met Jack and Victor and pals from Still Game, you will see a less developed and often more humourous version of them here.
Summary: A thoroughly funny half hour
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