If you're a fan of the merciless, spoof comedy of Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat and Ali G) and you have yet to discover High Spirits with Shirley Ghostman, you are in for a treat. Like Baron Cohen, Shirley, an odd Liberace-like, insensitive man-woman, played by edgy (sometimes too edgy) comic Marc Wootton interacts with real people who are not in on the joke. Prepare to squirm in your seat in both laughter and total discomfort.
The show begins with a live performance with an unwitting audience where Shirley gets psychic vibes off people with his spirit dog, Sheeba, like “Right, is there someone here, OK? With something going on in their life?” and channels dead celebrities, most hilariously a racist Colonol Sanders (possibly the single most astonishing and funny bits of the whole series) and Lady Di and Dodi Fayed. These had us nearly crying.
Other top segments are Spirit Academy, a reality show (with real contestants, again unaware of the joke) battling in an insane asylum for the title of Britain's Top Psychic. At one point, to prove their abilities, Ghostman asks them to all run away from the person who they think is going to be kicked out. The reality spoof is stunning. It's shocking what people will do to be in TV, especially crazy people who believe they're psychic. But again, I think the same thing watching nearly any reality TV.
Another favorite sketch involves Alf, a former exterminator turned pervy ghost buster, “Busting makes me feel good”. With a homemade contraption strapped to his back, mostly made up of an old vacuum cleaner he gets rid of ghosts in nutter's home. One lady, who Alf finds very attractive, is a goofy weirdo with an apartment that' half painted and willingness to trap the spirit with her sexuality.
Available on DVD only in the UK, this aired briefly on BBC America, for which I suppose I should be grateful, but the channel has yet to show any of his other highly praised work or re air these. So grab an all region player and open your world to yet unavailable BBC comedy, starting with this to get you in the Halloween spirit.