Radio Review | This Is That 1.1

This Is That (CBC Radio One: premiered Tuesday, June 29, 2010, 7:30 PM ET/PT; also Saturdays at 10:30 AM ET/PT) is CBC Radio’s attempt to build comedy from made-up news stories.  It’s already the most honest news show on CBC Radio One right now, in that TIT admits that it makes shit up.  You won’t find that candidness on Q or The Current.

Pat Kelly and Peter Oldring are This Is That‘s creators.  Their previous attempt at media humour, Good Morning World, aired in 2007 on The Comedy Network.  GMW was a web series given a berth on TCN in one of the channel’s “is this CanCon enough?” periods.  Like most shows on TCN, it hasn’t fared well.

This Is That has its share of problems.  Kelly and Oldring too often fumble for words, which isn’t surprising for an improv show.  I don’t find This Is That that funny after one episode, though the podcasts prior to TIT‘s debut are worse.  I wonder if TIT will be able to sustain itself for two months without growing stale, since TIT is the very definition of “skeleton crew.”

At the same time, TIT is a fairly accurate parody of the typical CBC human-interest news show.  It has the vacuous host chatter, documentary segment and interview banter down cold.  Oldring in particular could host a serious CBC Radio show, and not sound out of place.

Sadly, I grade shows like This Is That on a curve.  CBC Radio has let loose some real dogs over the years.  I remember the skein of attempts to rip off Double ExposureThe Muckraker, What a Week, National Pastime.  Al Rae/Content Factory’s comedy bits on The House are consistently piss-poor.

At the same time, CBC Radio has mounted The Great Eastern and given a radio sitcom to John Wing, Jr.  The Debaters isn’t too bad, pitting standup comics against each other.  Even Laugh Out Loud has given birth to Cynically Tested’s Truth From Here, which really needs to be a series.

TIT lies somewhere in the middle of CBC Radio’s comedy output.  It’s better than it should be, given Kelly and Oldring’s previous contribution to the Canadian cultural chum mill.  It’s managed to fool the National Post, which already makes TIT more notable than Good Morning World.

I hope This Is That improves in the coming weeks.  Even if the show isn’t that funny, it should at least confuse listeners.  That was a quality The Great Eastern had, enough that I hated the show years before I finally “got it.”  This Is That won’t be CBC Radio’s equivalent of The Onion or Weekly World News, but it should be.  This Is That doesn’t obsess over fake tan jokes, so that’s half the battle won right there.

Cameron Archer

Cameron Archer

Owner/Writer at Gloryosky
Cameron Archer runs this site, and is a freelance arts writer. He has contributed to Canadian Screenwriter since 2011. He is a CMG Freelance member.
Cameron Archer