One of the least laugh-out-loud funny sketches in last week’s Mad As Hell was Jezebel Scream, a not-at-all-disguised send-up of Judith Lucy. It’s not that we didn’t laugh at this parody out of recognition, it’s more that no one who isn’t Judith Lucy can be as funny as Judith Lucy, even if they’ve got a ridiculous brown and grey curly wig on their head and are making a reasonable attempt to do her sing-song, sarky voice.
Judith Lucy’s spent the past six weeks exploring womanhood in Judith Lucy Is All Woman, and what have we learnt? That it’s virtually impossible to answer any of the questions she set out to explore? Yep! But mainly that she should be on TV more often doing what she does best.
Judith Lucy should have her own chat show, stand-up showcase, sitcom, sketch show – anything – but instead she got a comedy-documentary. And like a lot of hybrid programs, comedy-documentaries tend to be the worst of both genres: not that funny and not particularly informative. Of the two – funny and informative – our preference is always for “funny”, so it was good to see that …All Woman went for it as much as possible. Who else would be cracking gags while someone’s injecting botox in to their G-Spot?
(Sidebar: To get back to that Jezebel Scream parody for a second, the only way you can get laughs parodying Judith Lucy beyond doing her voice [which is a side-splitter in its own right] is if you play up her more feminist side, i.e. “Gee Doctor, you must be the only man alive who knows where the G-Spot is!”. Except, there’s way more to Judith Lucy’s comedy than feminism. Also, Frontline parodied her feminist side in 1995, and that was like every parody of a feminist comedian ever: she did a tampon joke.)
But for a comedian who’s often thought of as being a bit “out there”, Lucy’s past documentary comedy work has been kind of restrained. Judith Lucy’s Spiritual Journey saw her explore all sorts of weird and crackpot belief systems, and even participate in a few, yet she was never quite, um, rude (?) enough to tear their proponents the new ones they so richly deserved. What made …All Woman a better series, in terms of having lots more potential for comedy, is that the topics explored were less personal than religious belief – it’s much easier to take the piss out of wedding cakes than it is a spiritual practice – which meant Lucy could let fly in the only way she knows how.
In Judith Lucy Is All Woman we saw Lucy look at a topic that’s always been a big part of her stand-up and get a whole bunch of new material out of it. Which turned out to be a pretty good formula for a comedy show, happily.