US comedy will leave you Veep-ing with laughter

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“Would you please hang up the phone? Because I am the fucking Vice President of the United States, and I have something to say”. It’s business as usual over at Season 2 of Veep, HBO’s American answer to our very own The Thick of It.

It’s the smartest, fastest, most blisteringly witty show on TV at the minute, and last week it hit midseason in the US after a stellar first half.  Because I am really, really kind (and also because I have no life to speak of outside television. What is ‘coursework’? What is ‘social life’?), I’m going to take you through the highlights of Season 2 so far: there’s been laughter (“You can’t reason with him. It would be like explaining Supertramp to a Komodo dragon”), there’s been pain (“I’d rather set fire to my vulva. So that’s a no.”), but most of all, there have been truly magnificent insults (“With your face, when you attempt to be charming, it really does come off as evil”).

You’re in for a treat.  The season opened with “Midterms”, which used the midterm congressional elections as a backdrop for reintroducing the audience to the main players. The party in power (as in The Thick of It we’re never told which party it is, but the smart money here is on the Democrats) is having a bit of a shocker. We meet the veep, Selina Meyer (played with consummate, Emmy-winning skill by the incomparable Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and her ragtag team at their funniest – that is, in total meltdown.

Total meltdown seems to occur at least once an episode these days, meaning that victories for the veep this season so far have been few and far between, and when they do come they’re often bittersweet. In “The Vic Allen Dinner”, Selina performs “50 Ways To Win in Denver”, a (literally amazing) parody of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” (I just want you all to take a minute to think about Elaine from Seinfeld strutting across a stage smugly warbling “Don’t be pro-choice, Joyce”) with some jokingly anti-European overtones to a room of American politicians who find it hilarious. However, due to the incompetency of resident dickhead Jonah – or ‘Jolly Green Jizzface’ as he was lovingly christened a few weeks back – a video clip of the song ends up on the internet and Europe is PISSED. Which bodes well for the following week, when Selina is packed off by the oft-discussed but never-seen POTUS, for a trip to Finland.

You’ll notice that my discussion of Veep is generously peppered with quotes, and that’s a testament to its superior writing staff (The Thick of It creator and ex-Oxford man Armando Iannucci remains at the helm here) and the outstanding improvisational abilities of its core ensemble, which includes Anna Chlumsky (her other claim to fame is that as a child she was in that movie My Girl where Macaulay Culkin gets bee-stung to death) and the soon-to-return Arrested Development’s Tony Hale, who plays the VP’s affectionate aide, Gary.

This is a show which, in only its second season, manages to be amongst the funniest offerings in any given week, and is undoubtedly worth any PPE-ist’s time – Washington staffers claim that it is the most accurate political portrayal on TV. Veep has already been picked up for Season 3, and as yet no Thick of It-esque Malcolm Tucker figure has emerged. I hope that you will all join me in my very earnest prayers for a UK/US crossover.

 

PHOTOS// Courtesy of HBO