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Cheeky Monkeys (part 1 of 2)

The bright young men "from the Internet" came to knock on the front door of BBC Television. Would anyone answer them?

By Eric WolfPublished 11 months ago Updated 11 months ago 4 min read
Cheeky Monkeys (part 1 of 2)
Photo by Laurenz Kleinheider on Unsplash

“I must say, they really have had me going,” Pomare Brisbois admitted with a predictable chuckle, because… Pomare Brisbois chuckled, early and often. Everything about them, he felt, just seemed to click. The way they bounced one droll line after another off of each other, it was as if they had been the best of mates, since they had been in short pants.

Turns out, of course, they had met only a couple of years earlier, in their late twenties — but that just spoke to how effective they were in their roles, the charlatans. “If this were a few years back, say, during our childhoods," he mused, "we might have thought these lads were a bit derivative, you know, of the other comedy duos. But here they are, skewering American and British sensibilities with equal relish, leaving nobody unoffended."

It was part of his job to be amused — and amusing — on demand, for which there was a lot. Pomare branded himself as “Easily the most popular chat-show host in all of Britain, who was born and raised in Tahiti,” which was, well, inarguably, a fact, given that he was… the only British chat-show host who was a native to Tahiti — “Not that I’m complaining,” he would laugh, as his signature for the joke even his third wife, Etta, wished he would retire.

It took his production associate, Tabitha, to clarify that the real appeal of the two actors was their snarky dialogue, not whether the female viewers fancied them — which, actually, they did. A nice bit of comedic disrespect — specifically, for Yanks — was at the heart of so much of British comedy: A Fish Called Wanda was built on it, for one thing.

Not that the Yank, in this case, failed to give as good as he got. He was a deadly marksman with a nasty aside, in the footage Pomare had viewed with his producer, Beryl, whose own career at the Beeb stretched back to before the lads had even been born. These blokes could be huge.

He took the video call with a honey-haired young woman who spoke with a Latin-tinged accent, which was a logical product of her upbringing, back in her home town. Which proved to be in Bolivia, not in, say, Bristol. Janeth Porras was studious and focused, with a sly smile as she explained her role in the lads’ success. “I’m their producer, but I didn’t put them together, you see.

“They came to me, actually, with the idea of doing this, because I had the inspiration to put on a video channel about being in London as a foreign citizen, and they came up with the… ‘storyline’, I guess you could say. It’s really more like they improvise the lines, and we tape them. I tape them, with a friend from university. We take turns on the camera, and I oversee the editing. I like to be in the control room; I let them have the spotlight.”

“I can tell you,” Pomare divulged, “Beryl pretty much dismisses everything popular, hasn’t liked a program since The Professionals, which goes back, what? Forty years? Oh, except for Men Behaving Badly, she’s keen on that one, as well. Thinks the lads are... sort of a cross between those two programmes.”

“That makes sense, strangely enough,” Janeth agreed. “You seem to have a fair appreciation for the concept. One show is a police programme, and the other one’s a comedy about two roommates, but it’s got this international flavor, because one is a cop from New York, and the other is this journalist from London.

“Name the place and the time. I’ll see that they arrive, and that they’re sober, so you can get a true appreciation of — you know. Them.” She smiled, ever so slightly, more to herself than for his benefit.

He was far from being a jovial quip machine, behind the scenes. Viewing was very much on his mind. Traditional television ratings were continuing to slip, as the medium continued to lose market share to the burgeoning entertianment media of video games and the Internet.

The latter, in fact, had paved the way for these two rascals to come into the public spotlight, courtesy of their online shenanigans, which these young men had captured in a series of brief, wiotty videos in which they debated the merits of British versus American this, that and other things.

Pomare was growing concerned about his own future with the network. He needed an injection of manic new comic energy, to boost his own ratings. He schemed to turn this tough-talking, Italian-American copper and his pal, the dry-witted London writer, into a winning new act. The network would feel obliged to keep him on the air, for doing them such a favor.

Janeth almost wanted to spoil the surprise he was about to experience, once he got to know the real men behind “detective Matty Giustino” and “journalist Malcolm Sherburn”. That, though, would scarcely have been cricket, as Britons would say.

With his trouble-and-strife, Etta, he caught up on some of the televisual proceedings of the comical upstarts. In what passed for their storyline, a copper, newly arrived in Londinium, had time off, ostensibly to rest up from years on a tough beat, from battling perpetrators of wrongdoing on the gritty New York streets. He found a cheap place to stay while he was in town, but after it was shut down by health officials — who said, “It’s best if you don’t ask why, sir”, when he did just that — he found a new place to stay: in the flat then occupied by a news writer.

Their witty observations about life in the mighty city made up the bulk of the material in their video clips, none longer than fifteen minutes. Etta didn’t find the show all that amusing; she fancied Giustino, though, and Tabitha’s tastes ran more toward Sherburn. That convinced Brisbois; he had to have these fellows on his programme, before “the Beeb” took an interest.


© Eric Wolf 2022.

Young AdultShort StorySatireHumorExcerpt

About the Creator

Eric Wolf

Ink-slinger. Photo-grapher. Earth-ling. These are Stories of the Fantastic and the Mundane. Space, time, superheroes and shapeshifters. 'Wolf' thumbnail:

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