One of my TV highlights of 2015 has without doubt been the second series of Sky One’s The Moaning of Life. I would even go as far to say that I think this is the best thing that Karl Pilkington has ever done on television. All six episodes entertained me greatly, made me smile and also chuckle throughout. Light-hearted travel shows do not get much better than this in my opinion. I implore you all to watch each episode at least twice because I found myself enjoying them so much more after doing this. Already I am in mourning at this programme not being on our screens anymore because it really was that good. I just pray the powers-that-be at SKY TV have already recommissioned it for a third series.
In this final sixth episode Karl looked at the subject of ‘time’. He explored how imaginatively some people spend their spare time. This included a man who pretended to be a dog as well as an another guy who got a thrill by putting himself into plaster castings. Karl also examined the effects of growing old. This very amusingly saw him become an old man for a few days. At the end of the episode, we saw him look at where human beings could go once our time on this planet runs out. My favourite aspect of this last episode was how Karl at times became thoughtful about the things he looked at. On several occasions there was an unexpected poignancy to his words that I found extremely moving.
“Bullshit…..I’ve got quite a claggy arse with it being quite hairy and maybe that was a bump that should not be there. There’s going to be a percentage of errors and it’s the kid, I’m not having a kid, there’s no way a kid’s going to happen”.
“Here’s the question then, who maketh the man here? Am I in charge or is my arse in charge”?
“It’s all been predetermined so everything that’s going to happen to you is already recorded on your butt”.
As with all the other episodes, I found the opening to this sixth one particularly strong. Karl had gone to Germany to look into his future via a thing called rumpology. I knew much hilarity would soon be coming our way once he had explained to us what this entailed, namely somebody forecasting his future by reading his bare arse. Karl’s face was a picture once the guy doing it told him that he was completely blind. Ulf, the elderly gentleman in question, reminded me of a slimmer version of the late Sir Patrick Moore(the famous eccentric astronomer).
At first Karl admitted to being a bit skeptical about the whole thing. He was soon won over though once Ulf said something insightful to him. Ulf predicted that Karl was going to move to either Spain or Italy and this ticked Karl’s box because he stated how his girlfriend Suzanne liked Italy. Ulf then massaged Karl’s ego even further by saying how another woman was going to be after him very soon. Karl made me laugh when he admitted to being flattered about this and that she must be clever then to work in the justice system. He wanted to know off Ulf what she looked like? He was keen to avoid this neurotic woman because he was happy with Suzanne.
All was fine and dandy until Ulf mentioned the dreaded ‘kid’ word to Karl. Ulf forecasted that Karl would have a child but Karl was adamant that this was never going to happen. The three funny quotes I listed were all based around this ‘kid’ conversation. It made me laugh how Karl then started to doubt the veracity of Ulf’s comments once something had been said that he did not like. The second quote that is also the headline to this blog really amused me. Ulf equally would not back down though. Rather than it all being written in the stars, according to Ulf it had already all been written on Karl’s bottom.
Featuring rumpology was a great way to kick off the last episode. This section was quirky, original and very funny. I liked how Karl befriended Ulf. I liked how Karl showed this elderly man respect. We could have had more information about how rumpology worked but you have to remember this is not that kind of show. This is first and foremost an entertainment show and entertain me this opening bit certainly did!
“That’s why I don’t feel bad about enjoying cutting my toenails cos there’s a lot of people out there doing madder shit”.
“I suddenly realise that if I need a piss I can’t do it. I’m not going to lie to you, that’s well out of reach”.
“The fact that I can get so much pleasure out of just emptying my bladder, that’s a good place to be in the world, innit?
Karl met a guy called Kevin who had a very unusual pastime. Kevin was into plaster casts, meaning he liked the feel of them on his body and how they incapacitated him(the stuff people wear after breaking a bone/s). He told Karl how he got this thrilling sensation when putting them on. Open minded as ever, Karl joined in the fun had an entire upper body cast done.
As you will see from the above quotes, Karl’s main preoccupation was how this cast impacted on his ability to be able to wee by himself. It was a funny shot when he said the second quote whilst trying to reach his down towards his genitalia. The section ended with him getting some movement back into arms and him running off to have this massive pee up against a wall. His relief at being able to wee at long last was magnified by his funny words of jubilation as he weed.
You could argue Karl’s look at Kevin’s weird pastime was a bit daft I suppose, nevertheless it did make for some amusing footage which was the primary aim. In particular, I refer here to the funny sight of them both trying to play crazy golf whilst in their casts. I also need to mention again Karl bursting to go for a wee whilst he was unable to go by himself. It does not say sound that funny but his expressive running commentary about this matter made it so.
“My face is sagging that much, what are my bollocks gonna be like when I get to this age”?
“I didn’t cheat, he’s not jet-lagged is he? I’ve been on planes for days, I’m not eating properly, I got to bed last night about twelve, my body is knackered. I beat him fair and square, Jesus”.
“There’s no good in er knowing how old you are. No one likes to tell you their age….I think you should be judged on everything else….it’s an odd way to measure things I think age. So that, that’s what I’ve got out of this, get rid of age”.
My favourite part of the entire second series was when Karl here looked at ‘age’ within episode six. In particular he looked at the effects of old age. I liked this section so much because apart from it being of course funny, there was also a reflective dimension to it that I found deeply moving at times. We saw ‘Karl the clown’ but we also saw a more mature side to him too. I liked seeing this more philosophical side to him. An example of this is the third quote. He concluded that people should not be judged in life by their age and I completely agree with him.
Another example of him saying something rather substantive was when he commented on the increased life expectancy around the world today. He questioned the point of people living for so long. Rather than it enhancing the quality of life, Karl wondered whether very old people were just examples of the medical community showing off about how great they were. Such theorizing showed that there is a lot more to him that just his funny banter and I liked this.
Before Karl came to such emotive conclusions about age, we saw him become this old man very amusingly via the use of prosthetic makeup. His to reaction to his new look was very funny. Funnier still was his immediate dismay that he had ‘old man’s teeth’ even though nothing had been done to them. He then put on a body costume that was supposed to make him feel thirty years older than he was. It was him looking and feeling like this that then gave rise to him saying that funny first quote about things sagging. His transformation to this doddery old man was remarkable. I did laugh when Karl got envious of an elderly gentleman in a care home who was able to get up out of his chair quickly and completely unaided.
The highlight of Karl’s look at ‘age’ was when he attended the West Sound Senior Games, still looking and feeling like a man over seventy. He met one participant called Mike aged seventy-two, who had trouble with his knees he stated. I loved the friendly interaction between Mike and Karl, it verged on resembling father to son type behaviour. There was a natural respect there from Karl as he spoke to this much older man and it was really endearing to see.
The funny bit of this elderly man’s sports day was how competitive Karl got when he competed against men much older than himself. At the first time of asking he attempted the 100 metres in his ‘old man’s costume’. This included weights in his jacket and on his arms, as well as a leg brace that was supposed to mimic arthritis. Everything was going well in his race until he tripped up and fell over. This got the Pilkington competitive juices flowing. He was so desperate to beat Mike when he ran his 100 metres heat, that he decided to cheat and take most of his ‘old man’s costume off. Hilariously, Karl acted like he had just won an Olympic gold medal when he ended up winning their race. My second quote refers to him insisting it was a fair win though. It was shameful behaviour but at the same time extremely funny to watch so I will forgive him.
“The bloke I’m meeting today, he does something different with his time, he totally changes species. He goes from being a man to a dog……sounds mad but is he on to something”?
“You know if he started shitting on the neighbours lawn, I can understand why they’d get a bit pissed off”.
As the first quote shows, Karl’s next trip saw him again meet somebody who had a very unusual pastime. Karl met a guy who liked to become a dog in his spare time. This friendly guy who had a somewhat likable childlike quality to him, liked to be called ‘Boomer the dog’ when in dog character. The reason I like the first quote so much is because the end of it demonstrates just how open minded Karl was. I accept the fact that he first stated it sounded mad, but at the same time he was still open to the possibility that it might not be. He does not approach his subjects with entrenched views on their behaviour before he meets them. I think this helps put them quickly at ease in his presence. The guy was very natural on camera in my opinion specifically because Karl acted like his friend throughout the piece.
Humour was the overriding aspect of the footage when Karl met Kevin from Chicago, the guy who was into casting. Whereas here, my overriding emotion was one of sadness when listening to ‘Boomer the dog’. This childlike man seemed like a bit of an outsider in life(I could have that completely wrong). I found it quite moving when he described his dog persona as a “a nice vocation from life”. It just made me think of how chaotic and maddening this world can be for many of us today. I did find elements of this section slightly corny though such as him saying he ate dog biscuits, but ultimately I had accepted and believed this individual by the end.
“In a way they are posing them in a way that makes you erm, not scared of dead bodies”.
“Get some celebrities in there. Get some Kim Kardashian, she’s always got her arse in the paper, get that on the table, get that cut up. She could fill that cabinet up on her own, just her arse never mind her full body”.
Karl focused on the afterlife in this section, how our time on earth can be extended. In particular he looked at a technique called Plastination. This process preserves bodies after death by it preventing decomposition of the body. In the museum where Karl was there were bodies of skeletons aesthetically posed throughout it. For example, there was one image of a male skeleton as a goalkeeper making a diving save with a football clutched in his hands. Karl was not totally convinced by the whole thing. He thought though if the place featured celebrity skeletons then this would help draw the crowds in. His line about Kim Kardashian was his most amusing line here.
If I am honest, then I found this part the most boring bit of episode six. We saw one of the bosses there confirm to Karl that she would be donating her dead body to the place, however we never got told her motivations for desiring Plastination. Is it purely an aesthetic thing or is there an altruistic medical purpose behind it also? What happens to the organs of the dead people who are subject to plastination? It was not made clear if they are donated or kept as part of the plastination process. It would have been interesting if Karl had spoken in more detail to somebody else who was going to have Plastination done. Furthermore, how do relatives feel about their deceased loved ones who have had this done? Nevertheless, it was an interesting watch for somebody like me who had never heard of this technique before.
Los Angeles, California.
“Suzanne has been going on at me for a bit about putting a fresh battery in the fire alarm, I’m not even prepared with that. I haven’t got a fire extinguisher. I had a chain, I had one of those chains on my door….I had one of them, I suppose that was as close to this as I’ve got but that’s not going to stop you, you know from Armageddon is it, is the chain on”?
Karl described how today some people are into all this ‘the end of the world, the end is nigh’ stuff. He visited a firm called ‘Atlas Survival Shelters’ who made emergency shelters for people. The man in charge explained how these lavish shelters would go twenty foot under the ground and cost you anything up to two hundred thousand US dollars. Karl could not believe they would cost so much.
The guy in charge was a bit ‘out there’ should we say. He was adamant such shelters were great value for money. I sat there thinking the exact opposite though. It was bonkers and who on earth would waste all that much money on something that has a zillion-to-one chance of ever happening?
The most amusing bit was the quote I listed above. Karl cited how he had not even fixed his fire alarm and that all he had to counter Armageddon with, was a chain on his front door. This section was not that riveting but it was entertaining enough to watch.
“I enjoy having a shit, would I have to report back to base every time I want to have to go? ‘You’ve been in there a long time are you OK in there’? Yes I am, just give me a minute, just give me time to have a shit”.
“This is erm, this is like Margate. You know that Phil, Phil and Kirsty on Location Location? They are always saying ‘it’s the time to buy in Margate, it’s an up and coming area’, they’ve been saying that for five years”.
“It annoys me that we’re that arrogant that we think we should carry on surviving, why are we all that? I think we are the problem, we are the virus”.
The final part of the programme saw Karl travel to the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah. Karl explained how one day the human race will end up moving to Mars. He noted how Mars has forty more minutes a day compared to earth. At the beginning of his voyage he stated how he was excited to be going there, at the end however he concluded it was not for him. His stay there felt a bit like prison he said. He missed trees, birds and his busier life back home, “it feels like a Sunday” was his very amusing analogy to Mars.
I thought the first two quotes were very funny lines from Karl. The first one referred to how they always had to stay in radio contact with one another the whole time he was there, amusingly this had started to vex Karl. The second quote came in the context of Karl saying Mars was still in it’s initial stages of being inhabitable. He again made me laugh when he considered the possibility of a Tesco Local and a Starbucks being built on Mars one day, I struggled however with the likelihood this ever happening.
A striking feature of this last section was how impressed I was with the mise-en-scene at times. Together with great empowering background music, I thought some of high sweeping camera shots of the Utah desert were exceptional. The vivid rich orangeness of the sand really looked impressive on screen. The panning camera shots and it zooming in and out really gave this section a sort of ‘epic’ feel to it.
When Karl looked at the subject of ‘age’ in his trip to Washington, I stated earlier how this was my favourite part of the entire second series of The Moaning of Life. One of the main reasons for this was because he expressed emotive opinions about that topic. The funny idiot behaviour from him ran alongside a more mature version of himself and I loved this mixture. At the end of his trip to this ‘pretend Mars’, he once again got rather thoughtful and serious. As the last quotes shows, he stated how he viewed human beings as being the real problem in this world. He considered the human race as arrogant with regards to thinking that we will be around forever. Whether I agreed with him or not is immaterial, what I loved seeing was this amount of serious animated passion from Karl. The show ended on a energetic emotive note which was very befitting for such a brilliant series.
As I said at the start of this blog, in my opinion this second series of The Moaning of Life 2 is the best thing that Karl Pilkington has ever done on television. When I watched the first series I really missed the banter that we regularly witnessed between Ricky Gervais and Karl on An Idiot Abroad. I think Karl outgrew Ricky in series two though, he carried the show brilliantly on his own. I knew every time I tuned in that Karl was guaranteed to make me laugh. I loved him exercising in the freezing cold of Iceland in just his underpants and bobble hat. I loved him meeting a guy in India who passionately believed in urine therapy which had hilarious consequences for Karl. I loved how in this episode we saw that Karl’s future was not written in the stars, but rather on his butt. A BRILLIANT SERIES THAT FEATURED A BRILLIANTLY FUNNY, EVERYDAY MANCUNIAN……..TV COMEDY GOLD!
Episode 6 – 4/5.
Series 2 overall – 5/5.