Tumblr has exposed me to many things of which I might otherwise remain ignorant. I’m aware of many of the more obscure memes. I know now that I prefer Batman to Superman, Star Trek to Star Wars, and impossibly fluffy puppies to fuzzy baby bats. Tumblr is also responsible for reawakening my passion for British comedy and getting me hooked on panel shows. Tumblr turned me onto David Mitchell.
After hundreds of reblogs of Peep Show/Mark Corrigan/David Mitchell GIF sets popped up on my Tumblr dash, finally someone shared a link to David Mitchell’s Soapbox rant. I think the first one I watched was about cultural references.
David Mitchell’s Soapbox is an internet exclusive series and widely available internationally, which is good news for burgeoning Mitchell fans who want to watch things legally and haven’t gotten around to ordering Peep Show DVDs and a Region 2 DVD player. Since its launch in 2009, Soapbox has run four series with grand total of 87 episodes. Each episode features Mitchell in his Ranting Shirt (he wears the same red shirt throughout the series, no doubt chosen for minimal green screen interference) deftly expounding, for roughly three-to-five minutes, on the irritations of the day. Written by Mitchell and John Finnemore and fitted with detailed post-production digital graphics, this is much more than your casual video blog.
As with any series, the rants are hit-or-miss. Not all the arguments are convincing and some topics you may find aren’t relevant to your experiences. But for a whole lot more, you may find yourself nodding in agreement and saying, “Yes, I agree with you, obscure-on-this-side-of-the-planet British comedian! I think these same thinks!” And then you’ll share the link on your social networking platform of choice. You’ll proclaim that David Mitchell is your spirit animal.
With each episode concentrated on one primary rant, it’s very easy to locate one pertinent to your own rage. You can watch, commiserate, laugh and breathe through your own frustration, and share. Personally, I find this GIF to be suitable for all occasions:
We have the privilege of living in a time of great laziness. We’ve become deferential to the changes of technology and society and the demands they make of us. “Oh, this remote has buttons I don’t understand. Well, okay.” or “Doctor Who and Downton Abbey are being shown only in 3D now? I’m not keen on wearing special equipment for idle entertainment, but alright, fine.” It’s nice to have a voice of my generation willing to call out the injustices, idiocies, and irritations of modern society. I suspect Mitchell will tire of his posh curmudgeon character and being asked to rant on command. Rage is a lot of work, it’s tiring to maintain a consistent level of anger, and trying to balance is out with a couple of giggles adds to the strain. Making a few pithy observations on a panel show must be easier in comparison. Not that I begrudge Mr. Mitchell his panel pithiness. There’s value to be found in that as well (or so I’ll tell myself in my third straight hour of streaming repeats of QI).
Now I leave you to investigate Soapbox on your own. The powers behind the series have released it in several platforms. You can stream it on YouTube or Blip, download the series as a video podcast, or download the iPhad (iPhone/iPod/iPad) app, or stream it from the Guardian website. The Guardian site also hosts Mitchell’s regular comment articles.