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So, where was the funny?

COMEDIAN Simon Brodkin's character Jason Bent is a wonderful creation, a fabulously rich, fabulously thick, fabulously selfish Premier League footballer who looks like David Beckham and talks like Steven Gerrard.

Bent has his own TV show, 110pc Bent, in which he ends up responding to everything -- questions from fans, orders from his club's manager to cut back on the partying -- in the same way: "I told 'im to f*** off!"

Take out the expletives and Bent would have looked right at home in The Fast Show. Unfortunately, he accounts for only five minutes of Brodkin's series, Lee Nelson's Well Good Show, which is back for a second run on BBC3.

The remaining 40 minutes are dominated by the titular character, a dodgy London-geezer-homey type who looks like a three-way cross between Norman Wisdom, Ali G and something Harry Enfield might have dreamt up back in the 1980s -- if, that is, Enfield had made cheap and crappy late-night shows like this in the 1980s.

This is the very definition of the cheap and crappy. Two dads were roped into a boxing ring to have their chests waxed, perform a 'Dad's wedding dance' and compete to see who could fit a condom over a banana first, using only their teeth.

Lee Nelson's Well Good Show, which is probably best watched while drunk, is presumably one of the reasons the BBC is refusing to cave in to demands, many of them coming from within the organisation's staff, to save money by getting rid of BBC3 altogether.

Instead, Corporation boss Mark Thompson plans to spread savage budgetary cuts across both BBC3 and the vastly superior BBC4, claiming that BBC3 has proved a good testing ground for new comedy.

Frankly, if the best it can come up with is Lee Nelson's Well Good Show, Thompson should strip BBC3 of its assets, give the few good bits to BBC4 and then shove the skeleton down the biggest toilet he can find, flushing three times just to make sure BBC3 has gone forever.

Near the end of the live final of ITV's spectacularly ill-advised comedy talent search Show Me the Funny, host Jason Manford said, "You have been voting literally in your tens." He probably wasn't kidding.

Show Me the Funny has been losing its already modest audience not by the tens but by the hundreds of thousands in the six weeks it has been on, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out why. An X Factor for stand-up comedians was never going to be a runner, because tastes in comedy are so personal. One man's Bernard Manning is another man's Bill Hicks.

It didn't help that the whole format of the series was a botch job almost from start to finish. We barely got to see the contestants actually performing their material in the previous shows; most of time was taken up with them fulfilling a variety of ridiculous and pointless challenges that had absolutely nothing to do with standing on a stage telling jokes.

Last night, belatedly, Show Me the Funny finally got around to showing us the funny -- although I doubt that many people were watching. The three finalists, Tess Stephenson, Dan Mitchell and Pat Monahan, each did a five-minute routine for an audience at the Apollo Theatre.

They were excellent, three genuine stand-up stars in the making.

The big prize (£100,000, a headlining UK tour and a DVD in the shops for Christmas) was deservedly bagged by Monahan, who's been toiling away as a warm-up man for years and did a fantastic set about his Irish-Iranian parentage: "Me dad is Irish. Me mum is Iranian. As you can imagine, we spent most of our holidays in customs."

Do expect to see a lot of Monahan and the other two in the future. Don't expect to see another series of Show Me The Funny.

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