Blightyvision: “Snuff Box”

Written by and starring Matt Berry and Rich Fulcher
Directed by Michael Cumming

I’ve mentioned before that I have something of a fascination with that little group of gentlemen responsible for “The IT Crowd,” “The Mighty Boosh,” “Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace,” etc.  My main Brit TV informant passed along six episodes — that is, the only six episodes — of a little two-man sketch comedy series called “Snuff Box.”  Starring Matt Berry (the deep-voiced guy from all the aforementioned shows) and Rich Fulcher (Bob Fossil of “The Mighty Boosh”), it had a good chance of at least touching on that surrealist humor that’s at least passingly present in its other semi-related series.

“Snuff Box” is somewhat different in that it has a through-line of two constant protagonists, named after the actors themselves: an executioner and his assistant.  While the episodes only ever have a vague smattering of consistent plot, they are held together with familiar locations and side characters, while still occasionally branching off into unrelated skits just for the hell of it.

By way of style — on a scale where “Mighty Boosh” is the most surreal and “IT Crowd” is as close to a rooting in reality as we’re going to get — this falls somewhere in the middle.  The weirdness of the comedy does come in the form of occasional flat-out bizarre imagery and stream-of-consciousness absurdity, but its grounding is not actually in the weirdness.  There were occasions of gross-out humor that were a bit much and didn’t really lend anything to the show, but other than that it was pretty steadily entertaining.

That said, it is now the point in the review when, if I flat-out didn’t like something, I out with it.  And the thing I flat-out do not like about Berry and Fulcher’s comedic stylings is … well … Fulcher.  He — or at least the persona they’ve given him — is irredeemably annoying, and not even in a way that you can roll your eyes or laugh uncomfortably at.  He’s delivering genuinely funny lines and playing genuinely funny characters, but the majority of the time his delivery is so grating that you forget.  A pity, because I get the feeling that he himself as an actor/comedian must be much better than what he’s been given (or what he’s given himself) here.

But there’s something to be said for a show that I can enjoy whilst disliking 50% of the main cast.  The material is still as hit-and-miss as any sketch comedy show, and while the misses are pretty bad, the hits are pretty fantastic.  Stand-out bits are Rich sneaking off to a secret time-travel door where he gets advice from Matt’s upper-class Victorian forebear, and Matt’s painfully truthy depiction of a “good guy” repeatedly dropping any new female acquaintance whenever she hints at a boyfriend.

“Snuff Box” didn’t make it more than six episodes, though in this case it really didn’t seem to have enough steam to go for more than one series.  The short-form show is enough for this, and if you’re into the other off-the-wall stuff these guys have done elsewhere, there’s some similar material that’s quite entertaining.  If you can find it.

“Snuff Box” contains ten million covers of one rather good song written and performed by Berry.  And yes, apparently his voice really does sound like that.