July 13, 2011

Not the News: 'This Is That' Mocks the Headlines on CBC Radio

If you enjoy absolutely deadpan, straightforward humour without obvious hints of irony, you have hopefully heard of the summer series from CBC Radio One, appropriately titled This Is That. It's a hilarious send up of the daily news. This Is That, produced by CBC Radio 3's Chris Kelly, is already infamous for its straightforward, deadpan antics.

The show tells ridiculous news stories, but executed 100% seriously without a drop of parody upon first glance, besides the ludicrous subject matter. In fact, the show's headlines and stories have been taken seriously numerous times including the National Post picking up a fake story as if it were real.

Each "news" story drips with comedic flare, but unlike The Onion, the stories sound at least remotely plausible. There's not the same kind of one-liner jokes and sarcastic tone. With the multitude of ridiculous stories in today's 24-hour news cycle, it makes each story sounds all the more possible.

This Is That
 often addresses their absurd premises and go to great lengths to feature "interviews" with their subjects. This makes it all the harder to tell it's not real. The fact that the show airs on Canadian public radio in between real news, is all the more deceptive.

Some of the headlines, while bizarre, could theoretically air on the actual news. This is where the true entertainment of the show comes from. The show's momentum is propelled by an awkward (but not dumb) confidence and surprising professionalism.

I had the pleasure of seeing the very early beginnings of this season's pre-production when I worked and interned at CBC last year after enjoying their successful premiere season. You might recognize the hosts. Peter Oldring (Young People F*cking) is a successful character actor in Canadian/American film and television. Pike Ideas creative director and comedian Pat Kelly is a staple of the local comedy scene.

Listen to their hilarious second season premiere episode here. The show is also available online as a podcast. Otherwise, it airs live on CBC Radio One on Thursdays at 7:30pm and again on Saturdays at 11am.

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