It’s the freaking weekend – links round-up

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Here is a selection of the best things that I have come across on the internet this week:

19 Successful People Who Had A Rough Time In Their Twenties [Buzzfeed] – an inspirational list of famous people who hit a low point during their twenties and went on to greatness later in life. Number one on the list is Jon Hamm, who was dropped by the William Morris Agency aged 27 after he struggled to land acting work. The list doesn’t mention that by the time he was 21, he had lost both of his parents, which is so unimaginably awful that I don’t know how he manages to get out of bed in the morning, much less go out onto the world stage every day and entertain us with his wonderful acting skills and lovely face and aversion to wearing underpants. If you’re a twenty-something who is going through a hard time, keep your chin up, work hard and one day your penis could have its own Tumblr. It’s the American Dream.

… and if things go really, really well, you could end up being so successful that you can get away with making unusual requests of your co-workers – like Marlon Brando, who demanded ‘a bucket hat and a personal dwarf’ during the filming of The Island Of Dr Moreau. Alternatively, why not take a leaf out of Lindsay Lohan’s book (#WWLLD?, as I ask myself every day), who refused to strip naked to film a ‘pivotal orgy scene’ (is there any other kind?) with America’s Sweetheart James Deen unless the film crew took all their clothes off too? Read The 5 Most Hilarious Actor Meltdowns Behind Famous Movies [Cracked] for more great tips.

A couple more little treasures:

The Homer Car From ‘The Simpsons’ Is Now A Magnificent Reality [Uproxx]

Cher Says That Tom Cruise Is in Her Top 5 of All-Time Best Lovers [Gawker]

… and the sadface emoticon of the week goes to the ongoing New Kids On The Block/Backstreet Boys turf wars. Stay safe out there guys 😦

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Throwback Thursday: Chaka Demus & Pliers – Murder She Wrote

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Here heralds the beginning of a new segment called Throwback Thursday, where we celebrate some of the best songs you had temporarily forgotten about. The first song to kick off this new series is Murder She Wrote by Chaka Demus and Pliers, which you will all remember from your childhoods as being the theme tune to a classic murder mystery series starring Angela Lansbury [citation needed]. I requested for this to be played at my friend’s house party on New Year’s Eve last year, only to find that my boyfriend’s friend had never heard of Chaka Demus and Pliers before, which I found deeply troubling on a psychological level very surprising.

As the lyrics clearly state, this one is dedicated to the girls with the angel faces and the devil hearts.

New music Monday: Lorde – Royals

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What does a track need in order to become the undisputed song of the summer? What special ingredients need to be thrown together to create a Call Me Maybe-level monster hit? Perhaps a belter of a chorus, a hilarious dance routine, a nice video with lots of pretty young ladies with their breasticles out? Could a sophisticated slow jam like Lorde’s Royals – a grower, not a show-er – ever beat the likes of Get Lucky and Blurred Lines to the top of the charts and into our collective hearts? Probably not, but if you ‘crave a different kind of buzz’, as the sixteen year old New Zealander sings, you could do a lot worse than to download this sparse and soulful finger-snapper. Sometimes it’s the still waters that pull you in the deepest. I felt similar things about Kendrick Lamar’s Swimming Pools, and I was drowning in that one for months.

Paris Jackson, Amanda Bynes and Stephen Fry: the answer we’re all looking for

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Paris Michael Katherine Jackson

According to recent news reports, a judge is ‘demanding answers about suicidal Paris Jackson’s state of mind’, and he’s not the only one. Since Wednesday the Mail Online has been playing sidebar psychiatrist and has published over 20 articles on the subject, trying to work out why a teenage girl they have never met would attempt to take her own life.

The Mail Online asks ‘Did a threat to reveal Michael Jackson WASN’T her father drive Paris over the edge?‘ Or was it because she ‘was under huge strain after being forced to defend her new-found relationship with her mom Debbie Rowe‘? Is it something to do with the fact that she allegedly ‘asked for emancipation from her family before suicide attempt‘? Or is it just yet another example of ‘the terrible proof fame corrodes all it touches‘? A cry for help? An argument with her brother Prince? A delayed reaction to the death of her beloved father? Legendarily shitty guardians (with Uncle TJ having moved far away)?

Same goes for poor Amanda Bynes. While her antics are becoming increasingly predictable (Amanda Bynes calls random celebrity ugly/tweets pictures of herself half-dressed in a raggedy-ass wig/goes to a public exercise class wearing something inappropriate something something Drake SHOCKER), there’s plenty more media mileage in an analysing her every tweet in order to make an expert diagnosis. Is it drugs and alcohol? Amanda says she’s allergic to both. Narcissistic personality disorder? She does love to remind other people of how much more beautiful she is than them. Schizophrenia? She claims there’s an imposter running around New York pretending to be her. The high price of child fame? Possibly.

That’s why it’s so refreshing to see the coverage this week on the news that Stephen Fry attempted suicide last year. If you aren’t familiar with the life and times of Stephen Fry, imagine that the Queen Mother had a baby with Oscar Wilde and that baby grew up to be a lanky genius who knows everything about everything. He knows whether there’s life on Mars. He knows how many roads a man must walk down before you can call him a man. He knows that I’m lying in bed right now eating handfuls of Everyday Value cornflakes and listening to Earth Song. He knows why the answer to the Great Question Of Life, the Universe, and Everything… is forty-two. (Yes. Seriously. He actually does.) But even he doesn’t know what would cause a person to attempt suicide.

For years he has spoken frankly about living with bipolar disorder, and is president of the mental health charity Mind. This week he told the press that there was “no reason” for someone wanting to take their own life. “There is no ‘why’, it’s not the right question. There’s no reason. If there were a reason for it, you could reason someone out of it, and you could tell them why they shouldn’t take their own life.”

Wouldn’t life be so easy if all incidences of mental illness could be traced back to a single cause? If we could all just scan through the Daily Mail sidebar of shame, tot up the headlines and say to ourselves ‘ok, I won’t sell my children into Amanda Bynes-style Nickelodeon superstardom. I’ll let them know who their biological parents are and try not to get accidentally murdered by Dr Conrad Murray’ and that that would be enough to guard ourselves against the unthinkable? The fact is, 5% of all people attempt suicide at some point in their lives. It’s not just Michael Jackson’s daughter and Sherlock Holmes’ brother. Sometimes people’s brains just don’t work properly.

Oh, go blue yourselves

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Portia de Rossi

Also this week in ‘let’s give thin and beautiful famous women a hard time about how they look because oh isn’t it so sad how they feel they need to look a certain way to stay famous and successful’ news, there are apparently some Arrested Development viewers who feel that Portia De Rossi’s weight loss and possible plastic surgery is ‘distracting’ them from being fully engrossed in the new season; as though having a nose job, a bit of botox and an eyebrow lift somehow inhibits her ability to play a 40something spoilt and shallow sexually desperate youth-obsessed rich bitch with more money than sense?

Sound Of Change 2013: banging on about all the wrong things

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In an article headlined ‘”Why does female empowerment need to involve leather knickers and heels?”: Twitter backlash over Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez at Chime For Change concert’ the Daily Mail today asks:

Chime For Change’s Sound Of Change concert was meant to be the event that put women’s rights firmly in the spotlight. But the overall message of Saturday night’s star-studded concert at Twickenham Stadium in London seemed to be lost on some of the performers, according to many critics. Twitter brimmed with harsh but fair questions, including why modern day feminism requires wearing a pair of ‘spiked heels’ and underwear, and if the sexy performances were entirely appropriate.

Why does modern day feminism require wearing a pair of ‘spiked heels’ and underwear? Short answer: it doesn’t. Sound Of Change was just one concert, supported by a major high-end fashion label, featuring performances by a number of very famous pop star ladies who like singing songs about sex, dancing and wearing revealing clothes. Being mad that a concert to support female empowerment sponsored by Gucci features too many thin women in skimpy clothing is like being mad that McDonalds’ Fight Against Famine concert (not a real thing) features too many hamburgers. It doesn’t represent all of modern day feminism. It doesn’t have to.

Feminism means different things to different people. Beyonce’s particular brand of feminism – singing about being an independent woman while dressed like something out of the porn parody of Mad Max Beyond The Thunderdome – may not be the same as yours. It’s understandable that some women feel disappointed that such a huge opportunity to raise awareness about global women’s rights issues has been given to represent such a small section of feminism – the booty popping, Brazilian bikini waxed portion. But that doesn’t mean that it is right to try and break down those who are trying to build the rest of us up – no matter how misguided they may occasionally seem.

Even if you believe that leather knickers and heels are the epitome of female oppression, then surely those who feel the need to wear them in order to forge a successful career are the victims of it, and should be given enough love and support from their fans that they feel comfortable walking out on stage in whatever they want. But who’s to say that they aren’t doing so already? Beyonce doesn’t look like an oppressed woman to me. She looks like a superhero.

God forbid women should want to look and feel sexy. As everyone knows, all women absolutely hate sex. Women need to be empowered and freed from the shackles of being able to have sex with any consenting adult that they want, whenever they fancy it, and feeling awesome doing it. Bonus points go to the lovely Twitter users who spiced up their feminist outrage with a dash of slutshaming. ‘Rita Whora sl*t dropping is kinda contradictory of the whole point of chime for change’ wrote one probable Mensa candidate.

Whatever it takes for a woman like Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce or Rita Ora to face a constant barrage of criticism about their every move, wiggle and ass shake – raising twins as a single mother after three broken marriages, being accused of faking a pregnancy, having your ex accuse you over Twitter of cheating on him with ’20 dudes’ – and to keep on coming out on stage in front of millions of viewers and absolutely killing it, is ok by me. If that’s leather knickers and heels, great. If that’s jeans and trainers, that’s great too. If that’s flannel pyjamas stained with ketchup, even better, because I’ve always hoped that one day Beyonce will look up to me as a fashion icon.

Even the one super famous woman who performed at the Sound Of Change who turned up fully covered – Madonna, in trousers, a turtleneck and lace gloves – attracted criticism for her appearance. As she told the audience ”We cannot change this world, nor begin to treat each other with human dignity, without an education. Let tonight be the beginning of this revolution because education is not a luxury, it is a basic human right”, some viewers were ‘distracted’ by her ‘puffy’ face, which looked as though she was recovering from cosmetic surgery.

For those of you who were too busy being horrified by other women’s bodies, faces and sexualities to concentrate on the concert, here’s a little bit more information about what those ladies were trying to raise awareness of (from chimeforchange.org):

  • Around the world, girls and women lack the protection and equal opportunity they deserve. Domestic violence and trafficking disproportionately affect women. And in spite of gains, women hold just 21% of seats in national parliaments globally. But given the opportunity, women empower themselves and improve outcomes for their families, communities and countries.
  • 800 women die every day during pregnancy and childbirth, but 80% of those deaths could be prevented with proven solutions and access to care.
  • 60% of the children not in school are girls, but studies show that investing in girls’ education raises GDP and employment. Providing opportunity for girls improves outcomes not just for them, but also their families, communities and countries.

Were you able to concentrate on that ok? Of course you were, because I’m not wearing leather knickers.

10 of the most criminally neglected songs by hugely successful artists

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Kanye West featuring Kid Cudi – Welcome To Heartbreak

Most of you probably weren’t aware of this, but did you know that celebrity impregnator and star of Keeping Up With The Kardashians Kanye West also has a rap career? It’s true! And very good at it he is too. It’s about time he received some recognition for it.

Welcome To Heartbreak comes from his much mocked 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak, which was followed by 2010’s universally adored My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I think the critics got it wrong. Any album which contains the masterpiece that is Love Lockdown is automatically better than any album which features a song that starts with the lyrics ‘one hand in the air, if you don’t really care’ (So Appalled) in my book.

It’s about time we gave 808s another chance, starting with this little treasure. It’s easy to see why fans might not have taken to this ode to mo’ money mo’ problems the first time around. Coming so soon after the 2008 global financial crisis, we weren’t ready to have our synthesised heartstrings plucked by a mega rich rapper moaning about having to leave a wedding ‘before they even cut the cake/welcome to heartbreak’ (although we all know that missing out on cake is the greatest tragedy of all). But in 2008 Kanye did have a lot to cry about. His mother had recently passed away following cosmetic surgery that went horribly wrong, and he had just broken up with his fiancée. All the cash in the world couldn’t bring his mother back to life. Money couldn’t buy him love (although please feel free to challenge that last statement in light of Kanye’s current romantic situation and disregard it completely).

See also: Monster; Roses; Runaway Love (with Justin Bieber)

Daft Punk – Aerodynamic

This genre-busting epic of strings, church bells and electric guitar solos would sound just as good heralding the new age of Atlantis or welcoming our Martian overlords as it does as a rap sample (in Slum Village’s Aerodynamic and Wiley’s Summertime). It’s the soundtrack to a life you’re not ready for yet.

See also: Tron: Legacy. Yes, the movie. You say “two hour long Daft Punk video” like that’s a bad thing.

Björk – All is Full of Love

The video, which features two large-breasted Björk cyborgs (cybjörks) snogging each other, has been on YouTube for over two years, and still has less than a million views. What is wrong with you people?

(The song isn’t half bad, either.)

See also: Isobel; Venus As A Boy; Hunter

Basement Jaxx featuring J. C. Chasez – Plug It In

Likewise, I would’ve thought that a video of one of the biggest pop stars of the 90s presiding over an explosion in a robotic love doll factory would’ve had more than 30,000 views, but what do I know? I’m not Queen of the Internet (yet).

See also: Scars; Cish Cash (with Siouxsie Sioux); Jump and Shout

Chemical Brothers – Swoon

This sparkling gem entered the UK charts at #100, before creeping up to the nosebleed-inducing heights of #85. Be careful up there boys! Make sure you’ve got plenty of oxygen and please don’t do too many drugs.

Sure, it’s little more than catchy hook repeated over and over and over again, but that didn’t stop Hey Boy Hey Girl (#3), Block Rocking Beats (#1) and It Began In Afrika-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka (#8) from becoming hits.

See also: the score they did for Hanna – an underrated soundtrack for an underrated movie.

Lady Gaga – Dance In The Dark

Much like its subject matter, a young woman who is too insecure to make love with the lights on, this exhilarating sonic romp needs to step out of the shadows of the more widely played power ballads that followed it (Marry The Night, Edge of Glory) and let its freak flag fly for the whole world to hear.

See also: The Fame; Speechless; Chillin’ featuring Wale

Beyoncé – Countdown

Lord knows why this lovestruck belter only made it to #77 in the US Billboard Hot 100 Chart. Illuminati conspiracy? The revenge of Sasha Fierce? The series of unflattering wigs she wears in the video?

See also: Fighting Temptations; Ring The Alarm; Video Phone featuring Lady Gaga

Drake – Loonies To Blow (A-Trak remix)

This one is a bit of a cheat because it’s an independent remix of a reasonably dull song, but this utterly chronic dancefloor tearaway is enough to make Amanda Bynes-level fangirls of us all. Bonus points for renaming it ‘Loonies To Blow’ after Canadian dollars in honour of Drake’s homeland.

Rihanna – Numb

Regardless whether you find her fascinating, infuriating or completely charming (or all three at the same time), Rihanna is an intriguing character. I find her most appealing when she succumbs to the dark side, as in this hypnotic ballad of slowly spiralling drops, distorted vocals and Marshall Mathers at the Slim Shadiest he’s been in years.

See also: Princess of China (with Coldplay); Jump, which samples Ginuwine’s Pony; that one with T.I. that sampled the ‘Numa Numa’ song (Live Your Life)

Amy Winehouse – F*** Me Pumps

Remember Amy not as a desperate addict who was hopelessly devoted to drink, drugs and dreadful men. Remember her as a feisty minx who sang this snarky little ditty about golddiggers, who told an interviewer that she’d ‘rather get cat AIDS’ than collaborate with middle of the road songstress Katie Melua, who had healthy curves and who looked, as my friend so perfectly put it, ‘really beautiful. Like a dinosaur, but a really beautiful dinosaur.’

See also: In My Bed; You Sent Me Flying; Cherry Wine (with Nas)

The quest for the perfect holiday read

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Lunettes de soleil et livre fond plage exotique

Choosing a book to take on holiday with you is serious business. Without proper preparation and research, you might end up making a fatal error which could lead to emotional distress, divorce or even imprisonment. Don’t believe me? Read on.

Which is the best type of book to take on holiday?

A classic

See: Anything that you wish you had read in high school, or anything written in the last few years which has received a major literary award.

Pro: When else are you going to get the time to lose yourself in a great work of literature? How good will it feel to come back from holiday feeling as though you have used your time off work to truly achieve something?

Con: You might develop uncontrollable book envy as your friends devour one whizzy beach read after another as you battle through 975 pages of Anna Karenina, leading to slowly simmering resentment that will create cracks in the foundations of your friendship that will only deepen over time.

Something ‘light’

See: any chick lit or mass market thrillers which aren’t too strenuous on the old mind cogs.

Pro: What better time to give your brain a rest and enjoy life’s simpler pleasures?

Con: Define light? How do you know that your frothy and silly retro romp about three beautiful and morally flexible young friends trying to make it in Hollywood (Valley of the Dolls) won’t end in tragedy of Shakespearean proportions (and for real, Shakespeare could’ve learned a few things from Jacqueline Susann. If there is one thing his plays are missing, it’s really great wig-pulling fight scenes set in women’s toilets).

That book everyone’s talking about:

See: Gone Girl, The Dinner, Inferno, How To Be a Woman, How Should A Person Be?

Pro: It’s bound to be worth the hype, right?

Con: Sometimes books become hits that everyone wants to talk and write about because some people find them fist-shakingly rage-inducing. If someone you know is desperate to talk about one of these books, it could be to share their joy with others, or equally as likely to purge themselves of the horror of That Ending (yes The Dinner, I’m looking at you).

A book that is universally beloved

See: The Hunger Games, Good Omens, The Fault In Our Stars, The Book Thief, Ender’s Game

Pro: Well, surely you can’t go wrong? You know you will love this book. Everyone loves this book. It won’t make you angry. It won’t ruin your holiday. It won’t make you want to throw your Kindle into the sea.

Con: What if it’s too good? What if it’s so unputdownable that every hard-earned penny you have paid for your trip away has been in vain, as you eschew sightseeing and going to the beach in favour of spending seven straight days in District Twelve with Katniss?

A bonkbuster:

See: Fifty Shades of Grey, Bared To You, Hollywood Wives, Riders, Lace

Pro: Obvious.

Con: What if your real life partner fails to match up to Christian Grey? What if your eye starts to wander past the person that you came on holiday with, eventually leading to the irrevocable break-up of your relationship? What if you suddenly become a sex maniac and get thrown in a harsh foreign prison for public lewdness, and request to use your one phone call to get in touch with Jilly Cooper and ask her to bail you out because it’s all her fault?

The ultimate weird-off: US vs UK television shows

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You Americans may have your Robot Chickens and Renegade Angels, but we’ve got time-travelling hangman-pimps and men giving birth to giant eyeballs. Which nation shall emerge victorious as we pitch US and UK TV shows new and old against each other in the ultimate weird-off?

Round one: animated sketch show with pop culture parodies

US: Robot Chicken

What’s it about?: Highly irreverent childhood-ruining pop culture mash-ups from the twisted brain of Dr. Evil’s ginger son.

Random quote, out of context: ‘I’m Bill Clinton! I’m gonna push over this cow!’

UK: The Adam and Joe Show

What’s it about?: Created by, written by and starring Joe Cornish of directing Attack The Block fame and Adam Buxton of ‘being absolutely awesome and hilarious all of the time’ fame, this turn-of-the-millenium sketch show features dozens of film and TV parodies (including Snatch, American Beauty and Se7en) acted out by cute and cuddly toys.

Random quote, out of context: ‘Well, I once snogged my brother, and I’m a Princess Leiasbian.’

Winner: Robot Chicken – Adam and Joe’s parodies are too accurate to be truly strange.

Round two: retro gothic

US: The Heart She Holler

What’s it about?: It’s basically William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying with incest jokes.

Random quote, out of context: ‘Son, just because you grew up in a lifeless cavern with zero human contact until I died last week and you were released and taught to speak and put in charge of this holler, is no excuse for your shoddy mismanagement!’

UK: Hunderby

What’s it about? It’s basically Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca with fart jokes.

Random quote, out of context: ‘Mistress Matilde is still abed, sir. She complained of vipers lashing her insides… Her bowel has still not spoken, sir, though I fancy I caught a whisper.’

Winner: The Heart She Holler

Round three: horror

US: American Horror Story

What’s it about?: Insane asylums. Serial killers. Ghosts. Aliens. Nazis. Demonic possessions. Nuns. Rubber gimps.

Random quote, out of context: ‘We’re all going to be together in the dark, watching The Sign of the Cross. A movie full of fire, sex, and the death of Christians. What fun.’

UK: Psychoville

What’s it about?: Insane asylums. Serial killers. Clowns with hooks for hands. Dwarves with psychokinetic powers. Christopher Biggins.

Random quote, out of context: ‘You killed her? What, cos she made a dwarf eat some cheese?’

Winner: American Horror Story

Round four: medical drama

US: Childrens Hospital

What’s it about?: Fast-paced parody exploring ethical medical dilemmas, like, can you perform surgery using only the healing power of laughter? Is it ok to fake your own death because you have too many emails? Is it morally wrong to provide a secret abortion to the wife of a right-wing, pro-life senator, when the foetus in question is a sixteen year old boy?

Random quote, out of context: ‘I’ve been peed on so many times I’d know if you’re a ghost.’

UK: Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

What’s it about?: Much like Childrens, but the hospital was built over the gates of Hell (in Dagenham, Essex – where else would it be?)

Random quote, out of context: ‘As I’m sure you people are aware, Won Ton’s gamma radiation mumps program went west, and created a horny giant eye on legs.’

Winner: Darkplace

Round five: independent women

US: Strangers With Candy

What’s it about?: A 46 year old former prostitute and recovering drug addict returns to high school to put right what once went wrong. Every episode ends with mass dancing and everyone learning a valuable lesson (‘violence really isn’t the only way to resolve a conflict, but it’s the only way to win it’/’I don’t have to join the debate team to get people to pay attention to me, I just need to starve myself to the brink of death!’/’Drugs are for losers. Unless you use them to win. In that case, drugs are for winners!’/

Random quote, out of context: ‘I did things I wouldn’t force on a mule, and that includes things I forced on a mule.’

UK: Nighty Night

What’s it about?: The course of true love never did run smooth. Any love that is worth having is worth fighting for. When you fall in love with the married doctor who lives next door, sometimes you have to tell all your friends that your still-very-much-alive husband has died, start dating a rich simpleton who describes his personality as ‘Scottish’, organise a farewell coffee morning for said married doctor and his wife which centres around you pole dancing in their living room to Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, murder your husband, attempt to murder your vicar with poisoned Angel Delight for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, follow married doctor and his wife to the spiritual retreat where they have gone to save their marriage, pretend you are a therapist who works there called Floella Umbagabe, accidentally nearly kill the real Floella Umbagabe, pretend you are with child following sexual assault by married doctor’s twelve year old son, get pushed off a cliff by married doctor’s wife, land on top of married doctor and drag his unconscious body across the ocean in an inflatable rubber ring.

Random quote, out of context: ‘Hiya Cath, Hiya Don. It’s Jill. I know I’m not allowed to speak to you anymore, but I’m just phoning to say I’ve shot myself. Bye.’

Winner: Nighty Night

Round six: musical madness

US: Glee

What’s it about?: A brutal dystopian vision of an alternate reality where teenagers burst into song once every few minutes for no logical reason, no one ever learns anything – everyone has to be reminded every single week not to be completely awful to each other all the time (you know, just like that valuable lesson that they learned last week), and Lea Michelle does That Face. A lot.

Random quote, out of context: ‘Did you know that dolphins are just gay sharks?’

UK: The Mighty Boosh

What’s it about?: Two zoo keepers/band mates/clothes shop owners/frenemies go on a journey through time and space, meeting plenty of gorilla demons, green-skinned homicidal hitchhikers and sexually predatory half man/half woman/half fish Rick James doppelgangers along the way.

Random quote, out of context: ‘Cheese is a kind of meat/A tasty yellow beef/I milk it from my teat/But I try to be discrete/Oh cheese!/Oh cheese!’

Winner: Glee

Round seven: TV intellectuals

US: Dr. Steve Brule

What’s it about?: Little Stevie is something of a renaissance man. While primarily a medical doctor, he also knows a great deal about astronomy (the names of the planets are ‘Sun, Mercurus, Uranus, Water Planet, Plunto, and this one they didn’t have a name for it yet. It’s too far away. You can name it if you want. Name it Dorris, after my mom’), gastronomy (sushi is ‘just cat scraps’) and erotic dancing. He’s a hard-hitting interviewer who isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions (‘Did you ever invent a jet pack?’)

Random quote, out of context: ‘Some dads are not your dad.’

UK: Brian Butterfield

What’s it about?: Businessman. Entrepreneur. Businessman. Owner of a five star(/asterisk) hotel with a ‘prince-sized’ bed (although the pillows do contravene European safety regulation – after all, they are blocks of printer paper) and a celebrity lookalike agency (see below), whose lookalikes all very much resemble Brian Butterfield. He also invented a pre-cursor to the 5:2 Diet with the Butterfield Diet Plan. For six days a week, breakfast is only one cornflake, toasted with low fat spread, but on Saturday you can eat all the pork cylinders, garlic pudding and pints o’ cream you want.

Bad Space Kingelton johnsmichael jackman

Random quote, out of context: ‘Those aren’t stars, they’re asterisks, each one referring to a fault with the hotel – one of which is the lack of toilet facilities.’

Winner: Dr. Steve Brule

Round eight: gentlemanly pursuits

US: Loiter Squad

What’s it about?: It’s exactly how you would expect a sketch show starring a rap group who call themselves Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All Don’t Give A F*** Litter Life Bacon Boys Loiter Squad Butt F*** B**** N****s to be.

Random quote, out of context: ‘Sometimes the apple falls and attacks the tree.’

UK: Snuff Box

What’s it about?: Surreal sketch comedy framed by the adventures of two hangmen in the pursuit of the perfect pair of silver cowboy boots/each other’s fiancees/writing the world’s greatest pop song (if only bozos like Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie wouldn’t keep interrupting them). Also, Matt’s long-dead ancestor shows up occasionally, bringing a gaggle of Victorian prostitutes with him.

Winner: Snuff Box

Round nine: puppets

US: Wonder Showzen

What’s it about?: From the disclaimer at the beginning of every show: ‘WARNING: WONDER SHOWZEN CONTAINS OFFENSIVE, DESPICIBLE CONTENT THAT IS TOO CONTROVERSIAL AND TOO AWESOME FOR ACTUAL CHILDREN. THE STARK, UGLY, PROFOUND TRUTHS WONDER SHOWZEN EXPOSES MAY BE SOUL-CRUSHING TO THE WEAK OF SPIRIT. IF YOU ALLOW A CHILD TO WATCH THIS SHOW, YOU ARE A BAD PARENT OR GUARDIAN.’

Random quote, out of context: ‘We’re on an adventure, you’re not on our adventure. You’ll never have an adventure, cause you’re sitting on your couch like a loser. Smash your TV and have adventure… Smash your TV and have adventure… Smash your TV and have adventure… Smash your TV and have adventure.’

UK: Bo Selecta

What’s it about?: Does an insane Yorkshireman wearing a cheap rubber mask and an enormous pair of reading glasses pretending to be Scary Spice count as a puppet?

Random quote, out of context: ‘This is the living room, where I like to relax and sometimes stick my penis between my legs and pretend I’m a lady’.

Winner: Wonder Showzen

Round ten: just sheer, unadulterated, disturbing, brain-hurting weirdness

US: Xavier Renegade Angel

What’s it about?: God knows. Some sort of bird-man-thing with a snake for a hand tries to avenge his parents’ deaths?

Random quote, out of context: ‘WHAT DOTH LIFE?’

UK: Jam

What’s it about?: Imagine the strangest, most disgusting and taboo thing that you could ever think of, times it by a million, and imagine it slowed down x20 and filmed through CCTV, and that just about covers it.

Random quote, out of context: ‘When dancing, lost in techo trance, arms flailing, gawky Bez, then find you snagged on frowns, and slowly it dawns, you’re jazzing to the bleep tone of a life support machine that marks the steady fading of your day old baby daughter. And when midnight sirens lead to blue flash road mash, stretchers, covered heads and slippy red macadam, and find you creeping ‘neath the blankets, to snuggle close a mangle bird, hoping you soon too will be freezer drawed. Then welcome. Welcome. In Jam, Jam, Jam, Jam, Jaaaaam.’

Winner: Xavier, (snake)hands down.

Overall winner: USA wins! That’s… something to be proud of, I guess?