Guantanamo Phil Review: Comic Torture

December 11, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

2Gphil300COMEDY SHOWCASE: GUANTANAMO PHIL: Friday 11th December, Channel 4, 10pm ALERT ME

Guantanamo Bay is a rather touchy subject but one that’s an obvious target for comedy. Something controversial? The comedy practically writes itself.

I’m sure Frankie Boyle could squeeze about 14 hours of stand up comedy out of that subject alone. Unfortunately, it’s not something that can sustain a half an hour comedy show as the jokes rapidly become predictable and the comedy stale.

Good natured Woolworths assistant manager Phil Mills has just been released from Gitmo after being held on suspicion of being a terrorist. Apparently bird watching in Afghanistan while wearing camo gear and sporting a pair of binoculars is frowned upon by the terror police.

Phil is far from angry though; he’s surprisingly, almost supernaturally philosophical about the whole experience. “Well, it’s understandable really isn’t it? You’ve apologised, it was an honest mistake?

Despite Phil’s good nature, events conspire to push his patience to the limit. Phil just wants a quiet life with his loyal girlfriend Carly but he’s immediately ambushed at the airport by armed anti-terror squads who believe he’s a rogue cleaner, runs into a press conference determined to probe the most intimate details of his capture and forced to endure a party at his girlfriend’s house with selfish friends all of whom are completely insensitive or oblivious to his plight.

He’s also forced to come to terms with the fact that Britain has changed in the last six years – Facebook, The Credit Crunch and the sad demise of Woolworths are all facts of which he’s ignorant. That and that his flat’s been demolished.

Eventually, he’s forced to rescue a burning chippy whose owner accuses him of being a paedophile and has to fend off a talent agent who’s convinced he’s the next big thing.

Every character he encounters seems more interested in their own lives than his and almost every one of them inevitably asks “Were you raped??

Unfortunately, none of this is very funny. Phil’s calm demeanour in the face of his neighbour’s escalating hysteria elicits a small chuckle but there’s nothing here that’s very original or very observant. Constant references to the violation of Phil’s human rights (he now knows how to say “please take those electrodes off my testicles? in Arabic) juxtaposed with Phil’s candid description of such is a joke you can see coming a mile away

This coupled with the fact that Guantanamo is hardly at the forefront of everyone’s minds right now (delays have pushed its closure back to 2010), makes Guantanamo Phil not very relevant and sadly, not very funny.

Jez Sands