First shown by Channel 4 at the beginning of 2000, Trigger Happy TV is one of those hidden-camera shows that plays pranks on the unsuspecting public. The brainchild of writer-performer Dom Jolly and his co-director Sam Cadman, it's a beguiling selection of endearingly daft scenes triggered by the admirably straight-faced Jolly (an inappropriate name if ever there was one). His characters include, among many others, a traffic warden who ticks off street cleaners for parking their carts on double-yellow lines; a business man who produces a three-foot-long mobile phone and bellows loudly into the handset; and an incompetent secret-service agent who sidles up to people on park benches, slipping them cryptic messages.
Unlike the elaborate ruses of other hidden-camera shows, the best gags here are decidedly low-tech and simple: Jolly's attempt to interact with a stuffed dog he's taken for a "walk" in the park, much to bemusement of passing joggers, is fairly typical of the programme's mix of deadpan humour and surreal visuals--less Beadle's About, more absurdist street theatre. And instead of relying on a laugh track to set the mood, the show has a surprisingly eclectic, even at times strangely mellow and introspective, soundtrack from such acts as The Happy Mondays, Elastica and the Stereophonics. While some of the recurring gags were beginning to flag by the end of the series, the beauty of this compilation is that it features only the strongest material. However, we won't get a chance to see the prank Jolly played on Bill Wyman, who objected when it was first screened on television. Wyman might not get Jolly's impish brand of humour. But this fresh and entertaining compilation gives the rest of us a chance to sample it for ourselves.
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