Why are the Brits so funny? Created by Nathaniel Tapley and Justin Gayner (who also appear in the show), British web series The Meeting is a hilarious take on group therapy. The requisite British dryness permeates the various, sometimes shocking addictions of these poor people…masturbation, anyone? Or, how about water-sports with a wheelchair bound sex addict required to speak through a computer a’la Stephen Hawking? Honestly, in the wrong hands, this could be terrible, but oh my, is this show good.
Tapley writes, Gayner producers and Jamie Lennox directs with a generally fluid camera that is both unobtrusive, and right where it needs to be at all times. But the performances are out of this world. With eight characters, seven of which are addicted to something, ranging from the aforementioned ‘wanking’ to crack (from the most unexpected of users, the plain-jane, death-obsessed ‘Elaine’, played by Katherine Jakeways) to caffeine. The final character being the moderator, a kind, well-meaning priest named Christian, played by John Voce. Whose straight-man to his various clients is punctuated with amazing comic timing. I’ve never laughed louder at anything web, than the opening to Episode 5, ‘Brendan’, which solely rests on Christian’s interjection to Brendan’s intro of himself.
This ep is one of the many bright spots in the six that are released so far from the team at MySpace UK’s ComedyBox. The actor, Brendan, as played by Nathaniel Tapley, who is addicted to the footlights of the stage as well as anti-depressants, is forced to square off to see who is the better actor, with the more successful Michael Greco, who is an actual TV actor from a Brit series called The EastEnders. What this has to do with Brendan’s addiction, who knows and who cares, because the result is worth a guffaw or two. And Greco, aka Beppe, his character from The EastEnders is a great sport for enduring some humiliating moments as the ‘failed’ actor, still living off the laurels of his past fame. He gets a lot of screen time throughout The Meeting and earns every second of it.
Myself not knowing BBC TV or British entertainment all that well, I have a feeling that between Greco, Tapley, John Voce and Sally Chattaway (playing the cockney firecracker, alcohol addicted, Maria) there are some viewers out there that have seen and are fans of these actors. Just a little research online will tell you they have at least a modicum of success and for good reason, they are all great performers with excellent comic timing. There is not one blemish in the casting, also a testament to Tapley and Gayner’s talent as creators. That said, I imagine that Episode 5 has an even greater resonance as Michael, the ‘better’ actor steamrolls Brendan as a kind of inside joke, since they are both working British actors in real life.
My favorite of the bunch also involves Greco and the show’s producer and actor Justin Gayner, who plays Justin, in the eponymous Episode 3 (above). Justin is the sex-addicted cripple with a computer mouthpiece-like-a-sailor who seems to excite the group with his intro into his various fetishistic addictions that range from felching to ‘anything to do with the backdoor’. After his opening rant, he decides he needs to use the bathroom and would like an escort. Elaine and Greco vie for the opportunity and Greco wins out, ultimately getting lucky as we overhear Justin’s computerized cries of passion from the men’s room. So wrong, yet so right.
If I have one criticism of the show it’s that I have no idea when the next episode is or how often they come out because there is nothing listed on the site. And frankly, when I google the show or otherwise try to find any other info, it’s near impossible, even though Tapley has a blog, a celebrity facebook page and a Twitter account. With a show like this, that for me is funny on the level of the Brit version of The Office, albeit a totally different show, I would think he’d want to get the word out, but alas, there isn’t much to find. So, please, friends, readers and general websters, check out the show and spread the word yourselves and maybe we’ll start learning more about this little gem and start seeing some more Meeting(s), we’ll all be better for it. Trust me.