The Rubber Bandits Pilot: Review
Channel 4, Friday 30th November, 11pm
The Rubber Bandits are a comedy hip-hop duo, made up of Blindboy Boat Club and Mr Chrome and they wear face masks made from carrier bags, at all times. Even during interviews apparently.
I had not heard of them before but you may have done. They were hot on Irish radio, performing prank phone calls and quickly became a national sensation. They took this popularity to the stage, introduced the hip-hop and comedy song element and were a smash hit.
After some international touring and the song Horse Outside receiving over 9.5 million hits on YouTube, Channel 4 has let them film a pilot featuring their own particular brand of laughs. I say their brand, because as sure as eggs is eggs it’s not my brand and certainly not my cup of tea.
There is a part of me that feels maybe I am too old for Rubber Bandits or I am just not getting it. But there is a bigger and more persuasive part of me that knows this is not true and Rubber Bandits just isn’t funny.
The pilot (directed by father Ted alumnus Declan Lowney) is made up of a series of sketches threaded loosely together around a vague plot about a new party drug made from cough syrup.
Along the way the Bandits introduce us to a larger world where we meet the local shop owner (who looks like a cross between Mr Motivator and that bloke from Slade with the hair and the teeth) and his assistant a sort of unrefined gypsy genius. There is also a music video from Bruce Springsteen and a cameo or two from a Danny Dyer caricature.
The sketches often segue into comedy songs and the production values have the playful homemade/ nursery school feel that was a staple of The Mighty Boosh. Both of which are fine examples to follow for new comedians trying to balance comedy and music with the frightful and bizarre.
Unfortunately though, the Rubber Bandits writing is just not up to the same standard of either the Concords or Boosh and that’s a big problem. You can have all the outrageous situations and ridiculous characters you want but unless the writing is spot on, it will come across as ill-conceived, half-arsed and un-crafted.
I get the impression that each character and sketch is the first idea that popped into their heads; this is then immediately filmed without any further thought or work. In fact I hope this is the case because then there may be room for improvement.
From what I have read on the internet and seen in their music vids, the Rubber Bandits are primarily social satirists, commenting on what it is to live in modern Ireland. They should bring more of that into focus when and if they get a series.
As it stands, I find it very hard to find any plusses to the programme. The songs are, I suppose, well wrought but not exactly balls out hilarious and the Bandits themselves have a certain charm in their performances.
It is however, all a bit broad and obvious. Like Mrs Browns Boys in that respect. So despite what I think they probably have a massive hit on their hands.