Midweek Media – Mitchell and Webb Look at Commercials

It’s been noted that a particular sketch from the third season of British sketch comedy show That Mitchell and Webb Look gets linked in comments around here a lot. It often seems strangely appropriate. So let’s put it in a post, for once, and provide a transcript so we can discuss it in its own right! You can see the sketch on YouTube by clicking this link, or watch the embedded version below.

Transcript time!

A slender, white, middle-aged woman with blonde hair stands in a white room. She is wearing jeans, a 3/4-sleeved sweater in pastel stripes, sensible shoes, and a watch. A series of red circles emanates from her stomach, and she puts her hand on her belly, cringing and saying, “Ow!” Faint piano music plays in the background.

The camera cuts to a view of her face and upper body. “My stomach!” she adds.

A male voice asks, in voice-over, “Do you suffer from gut agony?”

The camera returns to a full-body view of the woman as she nods. Red circles begin to pulse out from her forehead. She raises her hands to her temples as the camera focuses on her face again. A laugh track plays. “And my head!” she adds.

“Tension head?” the voice-over asks. The scene changes to a closer view of the woman’s face as she nods emphatically. The voice-over speaks again. “You’ve got that bloated feeling?”

The view is of the woman’s torso and face again as she rubs her stomach, moaning slightly. “Inevitable wrinkles?” the voice-over asks.

The woman looks startled as the view closes in on her face again. She puts her fingers on the skin near her eyes, looking nervous. She is wearing what looks like a wedding ring. The voice-over continues with, “The beginnings of lady-mustache?” The woman looks surprised and concerned, and moves her fingers to her upper lip. A laugh track plays again.

“And now you’ve pissed yourself again?” the voice-over asks. The view changes to the woman’s full body as she crosses her legs uncomfortably. The laugh-track continues. The voice-over says, “Women, you’re leaking, aging, hairy, overweight, and everything hurts.” The woman looks increasingly uncomfortable and unhappy. The view changes periodically to emphasize different facial expressions or body postures.

A young boy walks into the frame, wearing a stained white button-up shirt and a tie. “And your children’s clothes are filthy,” the voice-over concludes. The laugh-track is louder. “No wonder men long for other, less clammy women.”

The scene changes to a tower of products arranged on a counter. They include “apricot deforestation strips,” “poppylet envivelising tablets,” “feminoids” and “guss-it sanitary pads,” among several other items I couldn’t quite make out.

“For God’s sake, sort yourself out,” the voice-over says. The image of the products begins to shrink and pull back from the camera. The words “APPROX £279.99 / THE LOT” appear underneath them. There is laughter and clapping.

The scene changes to the woman walking toward a couch, bent over with the weight of a very large gray tote bag – presumably full of the products advertized – that she has over one shoulder. “Now I’m free to live my own life…my way!” she tells the camera. She collapses onto the couch. A green check-mark appears on the screen, accompanied by a dinging sound.

The scene changes to a close-up of a man in profile as she shaves. Rock music plays in the background. “Men,” the voice-over says, “shave and get drunk!”

The camera pulls back, and the man who was shaving cheerfully opens the medicine cabinet in front of him, revealing a glass of beer. He raises his eyebrows and nods, satisfied, before taking the beer.

“Because you’re already brilliant,” the voice-over says. The man smiles cockily, and a woman’s hand with painted nails appears at the bottom of the screen, reaching up to grab him. The laugh-track plays continuously.

End transcript!

So, did you lol? I lol’d. I might have even rofl’d a little bit. I’d say this comedic sketch is successful as parody, at the very least, though I’d count it a good satire, too. What do you think? How does this piece of comedy work? What aspects are dead on? Does it not go far enough?

Your thoughts: I would like to read them!


  1. Melissa says

    Haha. :) I liked it too. But they should have added “offroad in a gigantic truck” to the men’s one. Or maybe manly offroading commercials are a USian thing, I’m not sure.

  2. Charles RB says

    I should point out the laughter’s a studio audience rather than a laughter track (when I hear “laughter track” I assume the laughing was tacked on artificially). The studio audience love it, and I do too. The only way it could get more viciously accurate is if there were multiple women crawling around the guy’s legs in sheer awe of his manliness.

  3. says

    @ Charles – I use laugh track because I know some of their sketches aren’t shot in a studio, and often you can still hear the laughing over those, but you’re right to point out that in this case it was probably response from an audience present at the time of filming. I would have been in tears from laughing, myself.

  4. Charles RB says

    I like when they use live audiences (or at least after-filming audiences), it’s hard not to laugh and clap along with them!

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