Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder may now be, as The Chaser put it, “Denton free”, but their new show Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery still has the air of Denton’s meisterwerk Enough Rope about it. And of Who Do You Think You Are? And of Pictures of You. And of the web series Carpool. And of innumerable other shows in which well-known people tell us almost nothing of interest about themselves. Tears and memories and a couple of ropey anecdotes are about all you’re going to get here…and that’s not really what we want from some of the country’s best-known comedians.
What we really want is for said comedians to make us laugh. But failing that we’d also be quite interested in where their comedy comes from, or more specifically, where the comedy things they’re most famous for come from. You know, were their parents funny, were they influenced by funny childhood friends or weird neighbours, did they perform a rudimentary comedy act at high school, did they start being funny at university? And if possible, could they tell us about all this whilst being funny?
In theory you could get all of that as part of a show in which Julia Zemiro drives a comedian ‘round some of the key locations of their formative years, but no, it doesn’t happen. In the first episode of the series, with Alan Brough, they travelled all the way to New Zealand to see where he grew up, and then forget to ask him how he knows so much about music. You know, the thing he’s most famous for. Yes, we found out his family were very big in the local amateur theatre group but that still doesn’t explain his comedy, or his interest in music.
Central to the program’s problems is that location isn’t at the root of enough comedian’s work for the format to work. The John Safran episode, which will come later in this series, will probably be pretty good because a lot of his comedy and some of things he’s famous for are rooted in his early years at an Orthodox Jewish school. But with Alan Brough and Carl Barron (the subject of episode 2)…not so much.
Another problem is that the show seems to have a budget of almost nothing (in TV terms), meaning there’s almost no file footage or research or appearances from former neighbours or childhood friends or anything that would make this a bit more lively. And what with that and a reliance on the guests being interesting as serious people rather than being interesting because they’re funny comedians cracking gags, and you realise a) how bland and boring and like the rest of us comedians are most of the time, and b) that whichever production company thought that the least interesting thing you could do with comedians on TV was the thing they should turn into a show doesn’t deserve the reputation Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder currently enjoys.