It may not offer anything new, but Season 2 of The Moaning of Life is worth watching.
Karl Pilkington’s new show is repeatedly referred to as a ‘comedy travel show’ but unlike the original An Idiot Abroad, The Moaning of Life does not feature anything you would usually expect from such as show. Instead of sightseeing and showcasing the best things to do in some of the world’s most exotic locations, Pilkington visits some of the planet’s craziest people and joins in with their even crazier hobbies, in an attempt to find out what life is all about.
The theme of the new episode was ‘Art’, in the loosest sense of the word. During the hour, Karl visited: two men in New York who decorate dog mess to make it more appealing; a group that create sculptures from the naked human body; a modern-art museum; a man who pretends to be homeless and performs dance routines at Times Square; a man who creates art by punching large pieces of canvas; a woman who drinks soy milk with food dye in it and then is sick onto paper; and finally, some starlings in Somerset. It’s all a bit ridiculous, and frequently disgusting, but the situations themselves aren’t the entertainment, the way that Karl reacts to them is.
Without Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant to annoy him and send him to places, Karl has a bit more freedom. He hangs around, getting involved when he feels like it, and even chooses some over his own activities. It does mean the reactions aren’t as hysterical as in An Idiot Abroad, but we see more of Karl’s personality, not just him moaning and sulking. It is not always clear whether Pilkington is playing a character, being himself, or a mixture of both, but the one-liners he says after every new experience are undoubtedly the show’s best moments. Quotes said with a straight face such as: “I’ve never understood what pole dancing’s about anyway. It’s a waste of a good skill. Get into scaffolding or something,” are the highlights, but unfortunately there are not enough of them in the new episode, too much time is spent watching Karl awkwardly take part. Moments such as him wandering round a gallery commenting on every piece of ‘art’ may not be much of a spectacle, but they provide the best opportunities for comedy.
Sky showed four seasons of An Idiot Abroad or The Moaning of Life in less than 4 years between 2010 and 2013 and the style began to feel stale and the humour lost some of its impact. The two year gap between series one and two of The Moaning of Life has certainly helped and, although there is nothing new in the new series, there is equally nothing else like it on television at the moment.
In short, anyone who has seen a previous episode of Karl Pilkington’s shows should not expect anything different in the new series but, although it isn’t consistently funny, it is worth watching just for some of the brilliant one-liners.
Karl Pilkington’s The Moaning of Life airs on Sky One, Tuesdays at 9pm.