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The Important Business of Funny Shows with Cars

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Dear Matt, KNOW THYSELF and thy show. It isn’t about cars.

By Lea Gorgulu Webb

I’m no auto guru. Neither am I even an auto enthusiast. I drive a 2003 Citroen C3, for goodness sake. My kids hate me for it. (I rather relish embarrassing my kids, like my parents embarrassed me.)  I can love a good car-based comedy show, though.  I’m ‘Merican, of course, but I’m one of the elite, liberal sorts. I listened to NPR, you see. We Americans who listen to NPR, well, we are probably more aligned with our European (my dad would have said “commie”) friends than with the Fox news ‘mericans.  Here’s a revelation for all of you, though. We liberal, elite Americans, we loved Car Talk, which was a great deal like Top Gear.

Yesterday, a commentator on the BBC explained that Top Gear, in its past glory, was more a sitcom than a car show, and I agree. No car show is going to make me really smile when I imagine sitting down to watch.  As a matter of fact, Clarkson was canned because: when the full scale arse-hole that he is became apparent, he lost his ability to make someone like me smile.  Before I was aware of his misogyny and violent tendencies (I was a naïve American in London, who thought all Brits were intelligent and cultured…. Ha! Oh, that’s funny!), I really enjoyed the show. I was a proper fan. Encouraged my family to watch together, even.  What I wanted was the smile.  I wanted to hear and see funny stories. Cars can be a great entrée to funny stories.  That’s what made both Car Talk and Top Gear so great. The cars might have been the entrée, but the stories were funny because of funny humans.

Now, Matt LeBlanc has the task of being part of an effort to save the funny-car-human genre.  That’s a mighty challenge. I don’t want him to fail.  So, please, Matt, first, enlist all the help you can from really funny people, like Ray Magliozzi and the comedy writers that wrote Friends for you.  Ask the folks who have been writing your lines for the first season to please go. You should NOT be using lines that include British vocabulary that is uncomfortable for you.  You are best when you play a funny American. Stick with what works. Brits love funny, and you know how to do self-deprecating humour! You don’t need to have someone writing for you who is British.  You need someone who understands your ‘Merican persona, and can let the funny parts of that shine here in the land of people who really appreciate a good opportunity to laugh at Americans.  Maybe some of the clever writers from the show Catastrophie – maybe even ask that woman who stared on Catastrophie to fill Chris’ empty spot.  I think a funny woman on Top Gear could be GREAT!  There are plenty of good female comedians here. Let’s drive my C3 to Edinburgh this summer and find one!