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The review of Rob & Romesh Vs Lapland – their encounter with Santa is excruciatingly unfunny.


Sky Max has released four seasons of Rob & Romesh Vs, a comedic series where friends Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan face challenges that are not in their natural skillset. It may not have been on your radar, as most television is now exclusive to subscribers, but Sky still maintains a sense of exclusivity. However, you haven’t missed out on much. Rob is the optimistic one while Romesh is more skeptical, and they both struggle with the tasks they take on, but excel at making witty remarks about their failures. Overall, it’s quite amusing and decent.

The latest Christmas episode features Rob and Romesh taking on Lapland, the official residence of Santa Claus, to learn how to be elves. Instead of the usual celebrity guests like Anthony Joshua, Andy Murray, Shania Twain, and Jude Bellingham, the focus is on the unusual world of a place that believes in the existence of Santa Claus. In order to become certified elves, R&R must complete various challenges set by their main rival, a pro elf named Vanille.

Vanille is a decent foil for Beckett and Ranganathan, with her jaunty hat and her chirpy pronouncements about remaining positive at all times. Almost immediately she tells Rob off for swearing, adding to the impression that the two coarse Brits have charged into a delicate wonderland they will, hilariously, befoul.

The resulting laughter is not genuine. Rob and Romesh both fall unexpectedly when attempting to run in snow shoes. They request Vanille to come up with reindeer-themed nicknames for them, but then playfully make one of the names seem unintentionally offensive. Following Vanille’s suggestion, they embrace a tree. Rob stumbles while walking and falls into the snow, then pretends to get slightly angry at Vanille so that Romesh can tell him to calm down. “I had to intervene,” says Romesh in a postmortem interview, where he takes the opportunity to deliver a cleverly phrased line, “because Rob was on the verge of punching an elf.”

The comedians with Santa.

In a reindeer enclosure, Rob is seen sitting on a sled, feeding lichen to the animals while being pulled by Romesh on a snowmobile. Romesh purposely goes slowly, pretending to be afraid of the reindeer’s antlers and even gets stuck in a corner. This causes the reindeer to fight and Rob to fearfully jump over a fence, claiming one of the animals is the most dangerous. Once the situation calms down, Rob and Romesh have a slow reindeer race, which Romesh jokingly calls “no octane”.

While on autopilot, Rob and Romesh head inside to respond to the numerous handwritten wishlists that Santa receives from children around the world each year. Romesh playfully suggests that one letter from a young child was actually written by Rob, and then pretends to reply to a request for football stickers and magazines by asking if the child has checked out WH Smith.

The situation has a game show vibe where each person must come up with the funniest joke they can based on the given scenario. However, the scenario is never ideal, making it difficult for the punchline to be truly humorous. The peak of the game is a meeting with a person pretending to be “Santa” that falls flat – the person playing Santa is understandably unsure of how to approach the conversation, and the comedians are unable to find anything to work with. It’s quite uncomfortable.

The highlight of the hour is when Vanille oversees an “elf baptism,” during which participants remove their padded jackets and gloves, put on swimming trunks, and jump into an icy pool. As Rob and Romesh engage in sneaky sabotage, each trying to prolong the other’s turn and make it as cold as possible, it’s a comedic success. “Do I now feel like an elf? Well, my penis is small,” jokes Romesh. “That’s pretty elf-like.” Their debrief afterwards includes a discussion about their participation in an activity that people pay for despite it being physically uncomfortable, leading to a humorous conversation about the possibility of hiring a dominatrix to kick them in the groin for a future special.

As Rob realizes that this may have to be a YouTube project funded by themselves, Romesh’s laughter is genuine and they finally have a moment where forced antics turn into a successful joke. However, in the harsh climate of the Arctic Circle, opportunities for two comedians to warm up are scarce.

  • The show “Rob & Romesh Vs Lapland” was broadcast on Sky Max and can now be viewed on Now TV.

Source: theguardian.com