M.U.F.F Sitcom

M.U.F.F is the unapologetically outrageous indie sitcom created by comedians Daniel Sloss and Tom Stade along with Charlie Parker and Joe McTernan. It follows Sloss’ character Lawrence, a new intern at the television company M.U.F.F Productions, as he inadvertently creates a zombie apocalypse by helping to produce re-hashed, mind numbing TV programmes.

The six part internet series essentially sticks two fingers up at what television has become. Each episode rips apart a type of show by satirically copying formats that are plastered all over our modern screens, taking the ideas to hilarious extremes.

Issues of race, mental health, sexuality, feminism and political correctness are all discussed throughout the series, with Lawrence representing the voice of liberal reason against the rest of his moronic team. Despite these subjects being touched, don’t expect any moral lessons as they just form the basis for jokes.

It’s a fast paced show, with a hit and run attitude to some of the jokes, leaving aspects of the show unexplained, but that’s the beauty of it. Jokes run the show, everything else comes later. And anything that has the potential to be joked about is, even the warning at the start of each episode is hilarious.

The whole series is stuffed full of great gags, some quite obvious such as the continuity joke in episode one, others more original, but all very funny. Many of the jokes acknowledge the fact that the show was made on a tiny budget, referring to the lack of props and special effects. Also joked about is the TV making process, for example the first episode has Tom Stade’s character saying “this is only the first episode so it doesn’t have to that great, we’ve just got to show monkey public who the characters are.” The constant and blatant breaking of the fourth wall demonstrates that Stade and Sloss are fully aware how  ridiculous the show is

The acting throughout, as expected with a group of comedians, won’t win an Oscar, but it is nonetheless hilarious. When comedians attempt acting they rarely give a real performance, but what they can do is more important in a sitcom, and that’s delivering a joke. J.P, the boss of MUFF, is played by Tom Stade and is the stand out performance. The character is an exaggeration of the comics own personality, creating a gun wielding, drugged up boss who dishes out enough expletives to make a nun crumble.

There are cameos by recognisable comedians such Stephen K Amos, who plays future Lawrence taking on a narrator role, Eric Lampaert, appearing in episode two as the cross-dressing robber and Jarred Christmas, starring in a seductive mock lemonade advert.

The best thing about MUFF, besides being able to make stupid jokes with the title, is that the creators didn’t have anyone above them curbing creativity to commercialise the end product. The very subject matter of the show is why it would never be taken up by a production company.

They could do what they wanted and they certainly didn’t hold back, throwing wild punches at modern television. So many sitcoms are dumbed-down in concept, characters and jokes for the benefit of the mass audience and the fear of offending them. It’s good to watch a sitcom where the creators did it because they wanted to.

Here’s episode one, the rest can be found on MUFF’s YouTube channel along with extra content.

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Review: Tom Stade You’re Welcome

[First published on Quays News 30/01/16] Youre-Welcome-Poster-Jpeg

ROCK star comedian Tom Stade hit the Lowry’s Quays Theatre last night with his new show ‘You’re Welcome’.

The intimate room was the venue for the second night of Tom Stade’s new tour, which, for a comedian that’s appeared on the likes of ‘Live at the Apollo’ and ‘Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow’, is a relatively tiny room. Small theatres do give audience members a greater sense of inclusion in a show, and, with Stade’s constant chatting to the front row, this was certainly the case.

Support act Gareth Waugh graced the stage first however. Stade’s recognisable voice over to welcome the Scottish comedian gets the laughter roaring to banish any nervous wait before the first joke lands. A stark contrast to Stade, Waugh’s feeble persona tells self-deprecating anecdotes, fitting into the mould of young male comics that laugh at their failure to be the stereotypical man. His stories are told excellently with the help of his physical performance, ending in some crude but funny mimes. Clever punchlines are scattered throughout, maintaining the laughter before finishing strong. The young Scotsman is definitely one to watch.

The interval passes and, with confidence in abundance, Stade strides onto the stage. In the front row was a gentleman who would be gold dust to any comedian, and Stade spotted him immediately, commenting on his likeness to Einstein to great laughter and applause. A photography teacher from Birkenhead, Albert, as Stade referred to him as, became a regular feature throughout the night.

The start of the show is side splitting. He tells the audience where he’s from, preposterously exaggerating how primitive the Canadian town is in which he grew up. His anecdote about playing Glastonbury last year is a routine that received constant hearty laughter, as he builds up vivid but ludicrous imagery of a hot tub featuring himself and last year’s big names. It’s this silly imagery and ability to take a simple idea and run with it in which Stade excels.

As a Canadian he makes observations on how living in Britain has changed himself, as well as elaborating on the differences between the two countries. British TV is the butt of many jokes as he asks the simple question of why people would go on Cash in the Attic, which he then recites a silly back story. His delivery of the material on the face of it seems like a drunken ramble – repeating, shouting and elongating words with a large dose of expletives for good measure. But it’s this performance, consisting of expert timing, which sets him apart from other comics, matching the style of his material to create silly and original comedy.

Part way through his set, interesting but sensitive material is discussed. Stade refers to the phrase ‘no means no’, but subverts the usual connotations by joking about scenarios in which men say this. The idea is a deep discussion point, but with Stade’s comedic style it comes across as clumsy instead of clever or enlightening, which the routine has the potential to be. He alienates some of the audience which leads to a brief lull in laughter before getting them back onside.

Immigration is next on Stade’s agenda, again a topic which could cause offence, but his silliness blasts away any reservations the audience have at laughing at such a controversial issue. He talks about himself, how he was called an immigrant by a character in his previous anecdote, and how this offended him. Again great imagery is used as he truthfully explains how Britain is a country of immigrants thanks to its colourful history, the language he uses, even more colourful.

Stade really ekes out every possible laugh from a subject before seamlessly moving on to the next. Gaps in the laughter are rare despite his slow delivery as, rather than building up to a punchline, he provides funnies throughout. Heckles were mostly ignored and shouted over, but his improvisation skills weren’t lacking when talking to Albert and others in the front row.

Comedians are always seeking approval from their audience. Stade, however, seems to already know that he’s funny, allowing him to free himself up to be as silly as he wants, providing great entertainment for his audience.