Early in the Simon Amstell era, we were graced by some low-key appearances by a young, mop-topped blonde haired comedian. He bid his time, went away for a while, grew up, and in 2013, he was back on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, older, wiser, slightly funnier I think, and a few years removed from Mock the Week.
Russell Howard, love him or hate him, was a nice choice for this week’s NMTB. However…as Phill’s panel has teen-sensation Conor Maynard and actual pea-brain Stacey Solomon this week…it’s not Howard’s safety I’m praying for.
At least Noel has an easier time- Lethal Bizzle, another holdover from the Simon era, is back, along with comedian Isy Suttie.
Already, I’m impressed with Russell’s autocue-reading skills, and he’s very high-energy and all class- it feels like he’s done this before.
On Noel’s Guess Who amalgamation:
Russell: “ooh, already that looks like a really wrong entry on Match.com, doesn’t it?”
Isy: “It looks like a lion, dressed as a man, dressed as a lion.”
Isy: “I think it’s John Lennon…”
Russell: “And who else?”
Noel: “Justin Lee Collins?”
Noel: “The other day I was reading that Shakira was on holiday, and she lost her suitcase that had all her songs in it. Which…it really made me laugh, the idea you carry your songs around in a suitcase. Some guy opened it, it went ‘LAAAAAA…”
Isy: “I feel like John Lennon would have been able to deal with [the sea lion]”
Noel: “He would have sang ‘I am the Walrus’, and the sea lion would go “…we’re sorta like cousins. I’ll let you go…”
Stacey disagrees with Phill on a sea-lion fact, and does this…impression:
Phill: “Okay, here we go, Discovery Channel, tell us about sea lions…”
Russell: “That’d be such a beautiful show, you and David Attenborough. Where he describes the animals and you just do impressions… ‘HERE WE HAVE THE MIGHTY BEAR. STACEY?’
Russell: “What’s that in the bin? Is it a FOX? …Stacey?”
Stacey: “…FOX? Uhh…”
[I just think it’s kinda funny how every Russell Howard routine ends up including animals in some way.]
Noel talks about how when he was young, a llama ate his hair. “I was doing a drawing of a llama, and another llama came around and grabbed the back of my hair…”
Russell: “While we’re here, Stacey, what would a llama be like?”
Russell: “Did they gob on you as well?”
Noel: “Nah, I mean, think it’s because, I was blonde as a kid, they just sorta thought it was straw…”
Stacey: “Or your drawing was crap…”
Noel, verge of laughter: “This llama was an art critic…”
Russell, reenacting the sea-lion and Shakira incident: “Shakira was like ‘Uh-oh-ho-ho-ho-hooh…hips don’t lie…” And the sea lion went-”
Stacey: [Sea Lion noise]
On Phill’s Guess Who amalgamation:
Stacey: “I think it’s Justin Bieber, because he’s just turned an adult…okay, not an adult, but an older child…”
Russell, channeling Simon briefly: “Conor, you’ve been accused of being the english Justin Bieber, which seems a bit unfair, I mean you seem like a lovely bloke…”
Noel: “Have you met Bieber?”
Conor: “I have, I’ve walked past him a few times- he’s very petite-”
Noel: “That’s sounded like a stalker…’I’ve drawn him while he was unconscious…'”
Conor, going back to the question: “I’ve dressed up as his nan and made him get naked…”
After Russell confirms that J-Biebs did, in fact, surprise his grandmother with a naked serenade on Thanksgiving: “What’s he do on Christmas? Tea-bag a reindeer?”
Lethal talks about having to get completely naked to take a crap. “I was doing it one day, and something said-”
Noel, heavenly voice: “LETHAL…YOU MUST GET NAKED TO POO…”
This episode begins Stacey’s descent into Intros-Round patheticness. Even when presented with an insanely good intro by Phill and Conor of ‘Thrift Shop’ by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
She does eventually get the answer for ‘Princess of China’ by Coldplay, but only when it’s practically handed to her by Russell.
Also, for continuity’s sake, Noel’s expression the second the Coldplay clip plays in:
Isy does a pretty nice impression of ‘Lady Gaga singing from down in a well’. Unfortunately, that’s all the edit’s letting her do so far.
Russell gives Lethal some shit, as he has all night, for sending an angry political tweet, polished off with “#Fannys”. He’s just bewildered about the little amount of sense that makes. Lethal, meanwhile, is having a great time, and trying to defend himself, but he can’t even.
Stacey, after the impression: ‘Wow…I bet you’re never lonely…”
Russell: “Wow. That is the cruelest and kindest thing anybody’s ever said.”
Russell and Noel are talking about how David Bowie’s son (Zowie Bowie) changed his named to Duncan Jones. Stacey, however, becomes confused.
Stacey: “What, he left his son with Zowie Bowie? He changed his own name and said ‘haha, you can keep the crazy one’..”
Russell: “Nono, David Bowie is not called Duncan Bowie…”
Noel: “I’ve never heard anyone get the wrong end of the stick so aggressively. ‘RIGHT, AND THAT’S WHAT HE FUCKIN’ DID?’…’No, he didn’t. “AH. WELL…HE SHOULD’VE!”
Isy: “I like #4’s medallions. He looks like he’s been rifling through Jimmy Savile’s drawers…”
[Strained audience response]
Russell: “Uh, there’s a better way of putting that, Is…”
Stacey: “The blonde one looks like he’s from Wales…”
Russell: “…why d’you say that?”
Stacey: “Because he’s blonde.”
Russell: “…I think you’re confusing Wales with Sweden there.”
Stacey: “…No, they’re ALL Blonde in Wales.”
Russell: “They’re NOT all blonde in Wales…”
Stacey: “Is that a real beard on #5?”
Phill, patience beginning to wane: “OR…HAS HE SAVED A BADGER???”
Next Lines: “I could stay awake, just to hear you breathing.”
Noel: “…but that’d be creepy and the police would be called.”
It’s hysterical- Phill’s team ends up winning because Stacey wants to answer the Aerosmith lyric correctly even though it’s not her turn. As the scores are announced, Noel’s in outrage…even if it’s mostly fake.
Also, as a bonus stinger, the credit-rolling comes with the backdrop of Noel and Phill getting to operate the cameras, leading to this award-worthy visual:
Overall: Fantastic show, even better than Episode 1. Not only was the panel relatively even, save for some under-editing from Isy, but Russell was one of the more impressive guest hosts in a while. He didn’t have to be over-the-top and going into characters, he just told jokes and kept the quiz going- exactly what Mark and Simon did. I have to applaud him for doing such a nice job. Lethal and Conor had some nice moments, and Stacey was, rightfully, the dartboard of the show.
Guest Host Rating: 10/10. You’ve come a long way, Russell.
Best Regular: Noel
Best Guest: Lethal
Best Runner: Stacey’s animal impressions.