And… Vanity Smurf and the Punmeister Flash

Many coloured shirts were harmed in the making of this photo

There is a rather marvellous podcast called The Bugle which I’ll be talking about today. You may never have heard of it, but you have certainly seen it’s impact. The Bugle, subtitled An Audio Newspaper for a Visual World, has helped topple regimes, promote major Hollywood films, and educated thousands about Florence Nightingale and Joanna the Mad. All these things it has done despite Edith Piaf puns, an Audio Cryptic Crossword, and being owned (for most of its life) by Rupert Murdoch.

Comedians John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman have worked together for about 10 years. The BBC gave them a couple of shows on Radio 4 (The Department, being key among them), and their show Political Animal is still an Edinburgh Festival institution. When John Oliver got a job offer at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central in New York, he jumped at the chance, and by the next year The Bugle had been born. A transatlantic podcast recorded in two studios, with two recording engineers and an editor, paid for by The Times. The Bugle started in October 2007, and has continued weekly ever since, with the odd week off for holidays and filming commitments. The total number of full episodes now stands at 194. That adds up to something like a full weeks worth of bullshit.

The Bugle takes the weeks news, talks about it, then lies about it. It’s the worst place to go for information, but the best place to go for a laugh. Now, as for the title of this blupdate… Well, John Oliver is the voice of Vanity Smurf. If you haven’t seen The Smurfs, you probably saw him as Dick Pants in The Love Guru. You definitely saw that. What do you mean you didn’t? As for the Punmeister Flash, well… Andy likes puns. Not your typical pun, not your Tim Vine or your Stewart Francis. No, no. These are special. Here is Andy talking about dogs, after Lou Reed announced he was doing a concert just for man’s best friend.

No topic is off limits. Here is Andy talking about North Korea:

In the wake of the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World, a distant, drunken, racist cousin of The Bugle, Oliver and Zaltzman may have got a bit carried away with their criticism of News International. All totally justified morally, but they weren’t just biting the hand that feeded them, they were ripping it off, defecating on it, then throwing the now-soiled hand into a bubbling lava crater where it sank into the seventh circle of hell. Literally. They were fired.

So now they support themselves, with the help of the growing army of loyal Buglers. They now have their own website, host Bugles on soundcloud, and Andy tweets @hellobuglers. The whole point of this, really, is to let people know about The Bugle in the best way I can. Showing you Andy’s pun runs may not be the best way to get you to listen to the bugle, but they don’t happen in every episode. If they did, John would probably have shot himself by now. Somewhere there is an archive of all the Bugles, and I think they may still be on iTunes somewhere, so if you like some of the more recent stuff then check out the earlier Bugles. There has never been a better collection of bullshit collected by humankind.

It’s funny.


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