Doesn't say much about the host if they're cutting out his main intro, but I agree. It is usually a good 20 minutes or so before they even start the show, and that 20 minutes can often be the reason to tune in.
I love that the first twenty minutes of Catsdown are just mucking about, it's always great fun. I wouldn't say it's definitely the case that Jimmy's monologue is always edited out, I'm assuming he doesn't do it anymore, but presumably if they do it's worth recording it just in case it ends up running short and they need to pad the show out. On the early series of Would I Lie To You they used to have loads more rounds, including one based on TV clips, and in Series 4, I think, that round only appeared in one episode - seemingly they'd recorded it every week but on all the other episodes it wasn't required. And similarly it's how on HIGNFY they always have a load of scripted gags for the host to deliver for each question, to guarantee a laugh in case the panel haven't come up with one.
Yes, Cats Countdown is essentially a variety comedy show with a quiz loosely attached. Every comedian on it gets to do their little set piece and yes it's a good place for new people to get some TV exposure.
Yes, I think it's no coincidence that Catsdown, WILTY and Taskmaster are our best panel shows, and all of them actually have a proper game attached, which means the panellists have to be spontaneous and react to events as they happen, rather than just shoehorning in bits of their stand-up. In fact I think the fact there is an actual game attached makes it easier for panellists to do bits of business than an osentensibly less tightly formatted show like Mock The Week (where the format is basically 'do some jokes') because they can go off on interesting tangents but the game is always there to return to, whereas on things like Mock The Week it can't help but sound contrived. On the original 8 Out Of 10 Cats Jason Manford used to be terrible at cramming in bits of his stand-up, he never once managed to make it sound natural.
And as you say, Dictionary Corner is such a good platform for new comedians, a few minutes of airtime entirely devoted to your scripted material, with no specific topic needed or a requirement to pretend you're making it up.
That said, Catsdown does in itself have some conventions. I remember a few years ago when Bob Mortimer's mascot was a bucket of hot soapy water because "It's just useful to have around, isn't it? In case someone's sick or there's business, there'll probably be a dog on later, there usually is", and later on there actually was a dog, at which point Bob just looked up and went, "oh, there it is".
I remember going to a recording of Buzzcocks way back when Mark Lamaar was still presenting it. He started by explaining that they tended to write double what would actually make it to TV, partly in case some wasn't funny, but partly, he said, to provide a fully entertaining night for the studio audience, rather than in, out, done with inside 45 minutes - making it worth everyone's while.("Much of this is just for you, stuff that'd never get past censors!")
It's interesting, these stories about Mark Lamarr, he has a reputation for being horrible and my partner was once in the audience for Buzzcocks and says she thought he was vile, and I've seen other people say they think he was a dick to audiences, insulting them and seemingly deliberately taking his time so they'd all miss trains. But when I was in the audience for the original Shooting Stars, he was the only one of the regulars to actually thank the audience for coming and solicit applause for the warm-up (probably because he used to be a warm-up himself), while Reeves, Mortimer, Jonsson and Lucas just came on for the recording and went straight off when it finished, ignoring the audience completely. And he's on Twitter (no blue tick, but seemingly it is him), where he talks incredibly enthusiastically about music and seems a really lovely bloke.
Last edited by Steve Williams on 10 August 2020 8:45am