“I have to say… I really hate football,” says Peter Serafinowicz at half time in his latest venture: World Cup 2014 commentary. Joined by actor, Lewis MacLeod and entrepreneur alter ego, Brian Butterfield, this is the perfect antidote to World Cup fever.
Personally, I have no interest in football. When I was a teenager I pretended to support Blackburn Rovers so that people would like me at school. It didn’t really work – I only chose that team because I liked their shirts. Thankfully we found some common ground when Alan Partridge did his World Cup 1994 coverage on the seminal comedy news spoof The Day Today. It highlighted the banality of sports commentary (“HE MUST HAVE A FOOT LIKE A TRACTION ENGINE!”). This goes one step further.
With this new medium, Serafinowicz has reached the pinnacle of satire. I stumbled across it on Twitter, ten minutes into the Ghana v USA match. I duly turned it on, muted the TV, and clicked the commentary link. His commentator character knows nothing about real football, talking instead about things like ‘multi-ball’, “a man on the floor with a twisted beard,” and the referee’s nipple problems; anything to avoid the desperate information football fans are issued during normal commentary. As I listen, MacLeod is talking about the golden goal (a kind of extra time in case of a draw – I like to keep abreast of the basics), followed by the jade goal… and the amethyst goal…
If you’ve heard Serafinowicz’s comedy voices before and know his style, you’ll know you’re in for a treat. If not, it’s hard to sum up. It’s so close to the truth, yet so abstract. Every line is a winner. They say the words you wish real commentators would say. The match is boring. The footballers look silly. The advertising boards are distracting. In short, the whole thing is a big joke and people should stop taking the world (and especially the World Cup) so seriously.
The jokes come thick and fast. Jam sponsorship, James Bond, facial hair and masturbation are just a few of the highlights. Their deliberate obtuseness makes me do silent, painful laughter. It has to be heard to be believed. They are the voices of reason. In an insane world, this commentary is the sanest choice.
Here are some highlights. The tip of the iceberg:
“Say no to racism. Racism, can I have a quick word please? NO.”
“This is the 2014th World Cup.”
“Ooh who’s he? He looks like he’s wearing make up!”
“I’ve heard of this drink, Coca-Cola. Never tried it. My wife’s had it a couple of times. She says it’s quite tasty.”
“What a game. We’ve had sad goals, happy goals, people jettisoned into the sea.”
“Let’s hope it doesn’t rain, because there’s a lot of loose cables around here. And that would be a lot of electrocuted football fans.”
“What’s this? Now this is interesting! Sorry, I’m just looking at a text on my phone I just got.”
“I really do hate football.”