Editor's Note: Warning! Do not confuse The League of Gentlemen British telly series with the great comic book or the shitty movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. This mistake could be hazardous to your health and expectations.
Every once in a while you'll come across something in life that is so bizarre, so utterly insane and fucked up, that moments after you experience or witness it you question whether it really could have happened or existed in the first place. You think, no, I must have heard or seen that wrong -- that was just too screwy. And only after you experience it again or hear others talking about it do you come to terms with what you saw, and begin to believe that it was in fact really real... But then when you try to explain it to somebody else at a later time, your description makes it sound utterly crackers again, and the whole cycle repeats itself. Well, The League of Gentlemen is my most recent example of such higgledypiggledy bonkersness.
This British show can't exactly be called a comedy. Yeah, it made me laugh my ass off, but it's so horrific in places that it will make you puke if you happen to be eating fish and chips and chugging a pint of lager when you see it. I first caught a glimpse into the world of Royston Vasey while in Edinburgh back in December of '99. It was right after a long long train ride (which turned into a bus ride when the line went down, then back into a train ride for the final leg of the trip) that left London's King's Cross at 8 or so in the morning, and arrived at about 7:30 at night in Scotland. I was tired, drained and hungry as fuck, and ended up almost passing out in my room as soon as I got there. But, despite my exhaustedness, I crashed a family reunion in the restaurant in the hotel lobby, and then played around in the freshly fallen Scottish snow before ultimately returning to my room royally trashed. It was then that I first saw Tubbs and Edward as they hawked local goods for locals only, that transsexual, burly and hairier than sasquatch cabby, and those creepy Children of the Corn twins who seemed to like to roast toads on open fires. I was a bit faced and ready to go down for the night when I watched it, and I already missed the beginning so I never even found out what the name of the show was until months later... At which point I wasn't even sure I really saw what I thought I saw. I mean, I'd had alcohol induced dreams in the past that made a lot more sense than what the telly supposedly showed me that night.
When I got back Stateside I tried to explain the premise of the insane town of Royston Vasey to me mates, but the more I tried the more fucked up it all sounded. "An anal retentive man and wife who worshipped toads? A guidance councilor for losers who does her best to keep her class from getting jobs (and keep her pens safe)? A butcher who sells 'special meat' to a select few? Are you sure you kept the kippers away from the furnace before eating them while you were over there," was the typical response I got. But then, in the summer of 2000 Comedy Central started showing the first two seasons of the very same show (out of order, edited, and completely fucked up, but at least they showed them), and I was declared semi-sane by my friends again... At least until the lollipop episode I had three weeks later.
Anyway, League goes a little something like this: There is a town somewhere in England called Royston Vasey. And Royston Vasey is one fucked up place to live. Everybody in the town is played by one of three guys, and they're all in-fuckin-sane. First of all there's Tubbs and Edward Tattsyrup, the crazy, pig-snout couple who run the Local Store up on the hill overlooking the town. If you're not local, don't go near them. Especially if Tubbs likes your shoes. Next there's Barbara Dixon, the Bab's Cabs cab driver who thinks he's a woman. Oh, then there's the kid who likes Knight Rider a bit too much, and the veterinarian who can't seem to keep a four-legged patient alive. There's the living scarecrow, the Legz Akimbo dance/acting/freak troupe, the hospital radio DJ, Hilary, the shady butcher, the Dog Cinema people, the overly competitional child-beauty pageant parents, and of course Papa Lazarou, the creepiest mo fo on the planet. This whole show is so creepy it's brilliant. In fact it's so brilliant that it got canned from Comedy Central pretty much right after it started. They never even played the third series, but I'll get to that in a bit. Anyway, there are tons and tons of townspeople, and each is more soppers than the previous ("soppers" doesn't mean anything that I know of, but it sounded really British). And they all interact with each other in ways you'd never suspect/expect (as was the entire plot of the marvelous third series). And oye is it bizarre. So fucking bizarre. I really can't explain it anymore than this, but each of the three series revolves around one basic, bizarre story (well, slightly revolves around), and the pure insanity just shoots out from the center like vomit from a tilt-o-wheel at full speed, full of sick riders.
The first series is all about Ben Denton's initial visit to his aunt and uncle's house in Royston Vasey... It's also about a new road being built that will allow non-locals to come and go with ease... Scary. Series two is kind of about Hilary the butcher's "special" meat that causes lots of curious problems and eventually the burning down of the beloved Local Shop. Series three is all about a floating plastic bag. I'm serious. That's how ingenious the League is. They made an entire series that revolved around a red plastic bag. God I want Babs to have my child! Wait, what?
Anyway, I really can't get into the League of Gents anymore than I already have because it's just too fucked up to describe. I've done a really shitty job in describing it already, but whatever. I think that the LoG is right up there with Father Ted and Red Dwarf in British insanity/funnyosity. It is laugh out loud, choke on your unsalted chips, hilarious, but it is most definitely not for everyone. Seriously, there is some sick shit in this show. And no matter who you are Papa Lazarou will freak you the hell out. Isn't that right, Daaaaaaaave? Hee hee!
Does not compute! Does not compute! Bizarro circuits... Overloading... Need more robot booze to comprehend... Danger! Danger! Robot Pedro still sees Papa Lazarou when Robot Pedro closes his eye! Does not compute!
Okay, y'all, now Ah've grown up in a pretty shitty county/town/neighborhood, but I ain't got no shit on this Royston Vasey place. This is seriously fucked up shit. First of all those toadies were just weird, and those performance artists were just... Oh, and all those nose bleeds and that guy who loved the cow. And that S&M party that got seriously out of hand... Oh and that circus with Al Jolson and those midgets. And the pig people... Oh, and... Oh jeez, jus' forget it. Ah don't even want to think about this thang anymore. It's actually makin' my town look normal, and we got grandmas sleepin' with their grandsons-in-law, people with two fingers (total), alkies out the yin yang, and a port-a-potty on City Hall's sidewalk that moves by itself. We jus' ain't got nothin' on them Brits.