Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Graham Norton Headache Cure

A week or so ago, I had a rather painful tension headache. I asked on Twitter and Facebook for some ideas to get rid of it. An old school friend of mine from England first suggested (in true English fashion) that I should try poking my finger in my eye, because that would distract me from the pain in my head. Then he came up with a fantastic suggestion: laughter and some gentle exercise.

For the exercise, I walked up and down a step while watching TV. To make me laugh, I chose Graham Norton. My headache soon cleared.

The Graham Norton Show is the most recent and, in my opinion, most consistently funny of Graham's TV series. I have seen most of his series, and I have to say that it seems to have taken a while for him to hit his stride. It loosely follows the chat-show format - more on that later. It's shown on BBC America. That means that I can watch it legitimately on DirecTV, as opposed to watching 8-minute snippets on YouTube, as some people (a-hem!) apparently do with other British shows that they cannot watch otherwise in the States.

The flamboyantly gay host starts, as is customary in the chat show format, with an opening monologue. This is usually a comedic look at some of the week's news, gossip, TV and movie happenings. Then he brings on two guests. Finally, he brings on a musical act. Because of the show's American audience, Norton ensures that American stars appear alongside popular British stars. Having the two guests appear together is a stroke of genius, because not only do you get the conversation between the host and guest, but also between the two guests. It's funny watching American stars trying to get a handle on what the show is about. It sometimes takes a little while for them to understand the laid-back style, being allowed to swear (On BBC America, the swearing is bleeped out) and drink alcohol. Some never quite get it, but it is very entertaining to see a show where a guest relaxes very quickly, and some seem to love it.

Of course, with Norton's background as a comedian, the humor is always front and center. However, he evidently has some very good researchers, as his guests are frequently surprised with some of the information Graham has about them. Not only that, but he often uses the computer by his side to show funny stories from the Internet, gossip about a guest, and so on. Very often, audience members and guests will be invited to play some kind of game (often role-playing) related to one of the guests.

Next time you have a headache, or just fancy a laugh, try a dose of Graham Norton.

Are you a Graham Norton fan? Are you into any other current British shows? What British shows would you recommend for the American viewer? Please post a comment.


organicsyes said...

I will check out Graham a typical American..on YouTube:)
thanks for the laugh:)

Graham said...

If you get BBC America, you can find the complete shows. However, there are lots of clips on YouTube. Some are funnier than others - you may have to look around a little.

Anonymous said...

I am a big Graham Norton fan. Once he had Sandi Toksvig on ... I'd never heard of her, but she was so funny I ordered one of her books from Amazon before the show was over. Now that I'm thinking of it, maybe it's time to order another.

Graham said...

Sandi was on with Alice Cooper, wasn't she? Yeah, I like her too. I've never read one of her books, though. It was good?

Ah, I was right about Sandi, but she was also on an episode with Goldie Hawn - I looked that up on Wikipedia, but I remember that episode too.

Anonymous said...

It was okay ... I read "Flying Under Bridges," a bittersweet light read with a surprising twist at the end.

LittleBro said...

Hi! Graham's little brother here! For your information Sandi Toksvig is the lesbian equivalent of Stephen Fry:- incredibly intelligent, if not sometimes a little verbose! From Danish extraction, she is a writer, actress, comedienne and former presenter of cult Children's TV show, 'Number 73'. Surprisingly, she has never made it big in the UK (maybe, it's because the Brits sometimes don't find smart women endearing - just rather threatening)!!!

Graham said...'s my little brother! Coming to you all the way from London - cool!

He's right about Sandi being very similar in many ways to Stephen Fry. Another favorite of mine.

"Number 73" - I'd forgotten all about that show. I knew Sandi had presented kids' shows, but I couldn't remember them.

Maybe I'll do a separate piece about Sandi here one of these days.

augustina said...

my friend took me to a live taping of the graham norton show in nyc a few years back... i enjoyed it a lot. unfortunately, i don't get it through comcast - but i'm going to have to go look him up on youtube now.

Graham said...

What was it like being in the audience, Augustina? I remember when he did the shows in the US.

Anonymous said...

I will admit that I have not seen Graham Norton, though I have most certainly heard of him. I'm a big fan of Little Britain. I think it's just hilarious! My husband tipped me off to the show as the Dutch get a lot of British TV. I have tried it out on a few family and friends in the US, and it didn't go over well at all. I'm not sure the all Americans can handle of even get a lot of the British humor out there.

Graham said...

I wondered about "Little Britain," Tiffany, especially as it has now become "Little Britain USA" and is shown here on HBO (which I don't get).