Dog Days At The BBC

Today, the dog’s days of summer starts in Finland. This is for real. Google it. The high today in Helsinki was 68°. The low tonight will be 52°. In Miami, the high today was 97°; the low tonight will be 79°. A Finn would not know a real dog’s summer day if a Lapponian Herder bit them in the butt.


US 1 –
Staff Wanted A Name They Could Remember

I work out at a place called US 1 Fitness, which is a fitness center on US 1 in North Miami. Creating catchy names is not their strong suit but they have a pretty nice gym. Saturday mornings I regularly join a couple dozen other ‘it’s too damn hot in the morning to run in’ neighbors in the cardio section of the gym. We stream out over treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary bikes to get some heart pumping done. Cardio is pretty boring. US 1 Fitness has 10 television monitors surrounding the cardio room playing whatever morning shows the gym staff think are interesting. The staff are all between 20 and 24 years old and God subtracted 10 points from each of their IQs for every inch He added to their biceps. So they turn on the monitors closest to the check-in desk to MTV and reruns of last year’s football games. The QVC channel is on everywhere else.

Most of us ignore the TVs and listen to Podcasts. They are varied and cheap (i.e., free). Surprisingly, there are always a large group that follows the same three shows: the BBC’s Comedy of the Week , Real Time With Bill Maher, and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (WWDTM). These shows get the most play because they are fresh and topical. The Comedy of the Week and Maher are broadcast on Fridays and they have the current show in the iTunes store early Saturday morning. WWDTM broadcasts on Saturday so their podcast is usually a week behind though from time to time NPR screws up and releases it to iTunes early Saturday before it actually has its national distribution later that day. The shows’ common thread is humor around current events.

The American series have their problems each summer. Maher takes off for four or five weeks in July so no shows then. About the same time, WWDTM starts inserting reruns frequently – QVC tends to be more entertaining than topical jokes replayed months after their event topic. This would all point to a natural surge to BBC comedy podcasts. But no, the British take fiendish revenge on their New World friends in July – they change their lineup to broadcast six weeks of a ‘comedy’ called The Museum Of Curiosities.

The Staff Wanted A Way To Remember The Name

The way the Comedy of the Week works is that the BBC rotates their broadcast schedule between four series: The Now Show (comedy sketches around the week’s news), Dead Ringers (impressionists who mimic the week’s news makers), The News Quiz (a panel of comedians answering questions about the news) and The Museum Of Curiosities. Each show is broadcast for 6 to 8 continuous Friday evenings and then rests for six months and then they all do it again. Yes it is somewhat nutty to Americans but the BBC has been doing it for a decade so you get used to it after a while.

They Remember The Name If They Don’t Move

The Now Show, Dead Ringers and The News Quiz all focus on the week’s news. The last two years have been particularly robust for British comedians what with David Cameron calling an EU referendum that never needed to be held, then lost it; suddenly Teresa May popped out of cake; meanwhile Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were clawing at each other’s faces; after which the US elected a gigantic gorilla as President; that inspired Teresa May to call an election that never needed to be held, then lost it; quickly followed by the British cabinet attempting to out buffoon the US’s gorilla President’s stupid son in-law and stupider son; and on and on and on. Few periods in the history of the English speaking peoples has been as rich as the past two years for goofy material and utter loathsome people.

An American Could Never Invent This Type Of Stuff

Where does The Museum Of Curiosities fit in? Well, it is not about current events. The Museum of Curiosities is built around three guests giving imaginary gifts to an imaginary museum. Then they and the host (the museum’s curator of course) talking about the significance of the gifts. The guests are English minor celebrities, the imaginary gifts can be anything (A Pineapple, The Epping Forest, and a Rabbit are examples. The website lists everything given since 2008) and the entertainment level of the conversation around the gifts can be measured by taking the weight of the celebrity times the weight of the gift times a million (if you are British) or millionth (if you are not). They banter for thirty minutes or an eternity depending upon what side of the Atlantic you are on.

I suppose the Museum Of Curiosities is one of those quaint little British eccentricities we American are fond of ascribing to our forefathers overseas. Yes it’s a bit dotty; and of course show is unlistenable for more than five minutes. But isn’t it cute? It is so so British.

Step Mom Steps In

And it is. The unfortunate thing is that the BBC started the six week run of the thing yesterday. Maher is on his second week of vacation. WWDTM is doing the best of last year’s nursery rhymes and even the QVC channel seems to have run out Ivanka junk to sell. Alabama’s 2011 football season must have been a pretty good year; it has playing continuously on the sports channel for a week.

So the dead days of summer have come to North Miami. The weather outside is a steam sauna run amok. But we are here, Saturday morning, churning on a bike that never moves or hoofing it on a slow moving tread. Cursing Bill Maher’s trip to Hawaii, Peter Sagal’s boating around the UP and the bloody British with their stupid goofy radio shows.

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