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Series / Russell Howard's Good News

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Title card for Russell Howard Good News...
...and the title card for The Russell Howard Hour

Russell Howard's Good News was a satirical comedy standup programme presented by stand-up comedian Russell Howard, of Mock the Week fame, airing on BBC Three, then moving to BBC Two in 2014.

The shows are presented as Russell talks on stage, commenting on various pieces of news from that week and across the world. He's particularly fond of using reaction clips for jokes as well. Each episode is separated into sections, usually type of news; they don't appear in every single episode (see the folder below).

It started in 2009 after Russell left Mock the Week, and became a common fixture for many years, and ended in 2016 after its tenth series - the show usually had two series per year and with 8-12 episodes a series.

The show has since moved over to Sky 1, retitled to The Russell Howard Hour, and it follows pretty much the same format, and even reusing the same props, but gets more comedians involved with the show. Since the shows are essentially identical in all but name, tropes for both shows can be placed here.

    Common Sections in the shows 
  • First off, an opening number where bits of video are taken from actual news reports, and WAY out of context.
  • Big News: Always at the start.note 
  • Sports
  • Celebrity
  • Society
  • Weird Politics
  • Law & Order
  • Art and Culture
  • Animals
  • Religion
  • World Politics
  • Kids
  • Observational
  • Education
  • I Did Not Know That
  • Technology
  • Mystery Guest: Somebody from the news that week is invited onto the show and Russell, not knowing who they are, has to guess. They then (depending on who they are) demonstrate or let Russell have a go at their activity. The "Mystery" was dropped in Series 9, being a straight interview with someone in the news Russell found fascinating.
  • What Were They Thinking?
  • Stand Up: In the Extra/extended version only. A stand-up comedian is brought on and does a ten minute routine.
  • It's Not All Doom and Gloom: Ends every single episode. A piece of good news from that week, somebody just doing something amazing (usually for other people, like charity work).

Highlights of both shows, as well as an archive of older episodes of Good News can be found on Russell Howards official Youtube Channel.

Contains examples of the following tropes:

  • An Aesop:
    • As an outspoken feminist, Russell frequently addresses women's issues and talks about how women suffer from body confidence issues, sexism, and are denied the right to choose to have an abortion.
    • "Never compare yourself to someone on love island or to a photo on the internet, social media isn't everything".
  • Bait-and-Switch: One story is about China banning all movies with time travel, to prevent the notions of rewriting history, whereupon Russell claims he would rewrite history to undo one of history's greatest evils... by which he means interrupting the parents of Justin Bieber during sex.
    Russell: USE THIS CONDOM! We don't want you having a baby!
    Mr Bieber: Baby?
    Russell: Baby.
    Biebers: Oh.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Zig-Zagged, Russell is an atheist and condescendingly refers to God as "the magic man". Depending on the subject and person, he'll say that people are idiots for using faith as an excuse to ignore greater issues or deny any social changes.
    • For example when Donald Trump avoided talking about the Vegas mass shooting by saying that the victims will be supported by God. Russell was furious because he refused to acknowledge gun control or pay attention to practical, safeguarding solutions to prevent more mass shootings.
    • On the other hand, however, Russell nuances this a bit in later episodes (and during the run of the Hour): he doesn't revel in his atheism (saying he's not a "happy atheist") and finds people who demean/put down others for their faith (cf. Ricky Gervais, for example) as equally-problematic.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Whenever the audience "aww"s at anything cute, Russell loses it. The only exception is if it's part of the uplifting segment at the end.
    • Bigotry tends to annoy him and bring out his more vicious jokes.
    • American gun politics absolutely enrage him, it's one of the few times he'll be legitimately angry on camera, particularly after a gun massacre, leading to this memorable remark:
      Put down the guns you redneck cousin fuckers!
      • As of The Russell Howard Hour, he mostly just seems to find American gun politics less infuriating, more exhausting and depressing.
  • Black Comedy: They get away with far more here than on Mock the Week. You'd be forgiven for thinking it was Frankie Boyle's Good News.
  • Butt-Monkey: Russell's unseen brother is often the target of his jokes.
    • That little red and black Hoover vacuum cleaner that gets put in one ridiculous situation after another.
    • Russell himself to the producers, thanks to the Mystery Guest segment, at one point wondering out loud why he always winds up getting beaten up by old women.
  • Call-Back: Some stories get their clips sampled later within the same ep for something unrelated.
    • One that goes across seasons - after the gag about cutout animals used to re-enact animal attacks got phased out, there's a story about a Japanese zoo training its staff to deal with a Rampaging Rhino by having them go up against a papier-mache rhino. At least this one's in 3D.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: He likes to play-flirt with women.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: Invoked about the news that Eddie Izzard seeks to challenge Boris Johnson for the job of London Mayor.
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: Invokes this toward Taiwanese news reports, which are just plain weird.
  • Clip Show: The end of each series has a "Best Bits" episode.
  • Crack Defeat: During the 2012 election in the UK, one Liberal Democrat representative lost to a man dressed as a penguin.
  • Cursed with Awesome: The man who resembles Saddam Hussein being targeted by a gang...who intend to make him star in pornographic films. Russell jokes that being forced to repeatedly have sex with beautiful women is not necessarily such a bad thing?!
  • Cuteness Proximity: Russell is not a fan of how this makes women go from "educated women to dribbling wrecks," thus pressing his Berserk Button.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Russell's default mood.
  • Double Entendre: He's particularly fond of these types of jokes. When one of his mystery guests won "best sausage in Britain" award the entire conversation was littered with them.
  • Friend to All Children: He's particularly good with children, which is probably why Sandy Hook and the like particularly pissed him off.
  • Funny Background Event: The mystery guests are usually wheeled in on a diorama representing the field they work in, like the freestyle footballer who gets his own spectator stand with mannequin fans. Someone apparently thought one of the mannequins should be permanently Flipping the Bird.
  • Gag Penis: A common feature in jokes regarding Nick Clegg and his third leg.
  • Good Feels Good: Russell is very open with his philanthropy. Often ending his shows with stories about people who have done good deeds, on "Power Hour" he started asking fans to send messages and stories of their good deeds. No matter how big or small deeds are, the stories involve a dentist providing free dental care for the homeless and a man starting a "tenner for good" campaign, where he'd hide money with a note telling the finder to do only good deeds with it.
  • Hypocritical Humor: While lamabasting Boris Johnson for sending his father to a climate change debate in his place, Russell has his own dad appear on camera to throw shade at the PM.
  • Improv: The Mystery Guest sections particularly.
  • Momma's Boy: He loves telling stories about his mother and they spend time together on shows. For example, he has a show called Russell Howard and Mum.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Russell is actually quite good looking; he's usually near the top of the 'Unusual Celebrity Crushes' list in Heat magazine.
    • Though The Stig came higher on the list;
    Russell: How do you get beaten by a man without a face!
  • Mushroom Samba: Russell's Imagine Spot about what tripping in the bath would be like;
    Rubber Duck: Look at you! You used to be on Mock the Week!
  • Mythology Gag: Nods back to Mock the Week can happen once a season.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Though not when it's done to promote Scandinavian tourism;
    Russell: When you want people to visit your country, write something nice on Trip Advisor... don't fuck it!
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten:
    • Invoked self-depreciatingly, about the time he accidentally broke his wrist trying to do a push-up on a stunt-chair, during the Mystery Guest segment.
    • His tendency to be beaten up by elderly guests, leading him to speculate that the producers are doing it on purpose.
  • Patriotic Fervor: As much as Russell mocks British values and quirks, he's quick to admit his admiration towards the country. He was understandably angry when President Trump made a pridefully callous remark towards Theresa May about Britain's tragedies from terror attacks. Russell angrily deconstructed his response by talking about the number of shootings in America, poor healthcare and the Puerto Rico tragedy. He also said that while the UK has several divides, Britain doesn't support or ignore racism.
  • Police Brutality: The subject of a few stories. Case in point, one episode had a story where police used a taser on a blind man.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Played for Laughs with one Mystery Guest segment about bodyguards. Russell gets to disarm a 'gunman', who's actually armed with this menacing firearm, then gets his swagger on and asks if he could cut it as a bodyguard...before pulling the wrong catch and making the magazine drop to the floor.
    • This strikes a contrast with his views on American gun politics, which is one of the few subjects that gets him genuinely angry.
  • Re-Cut: An extended version is broadcast a few days after the programme is aired, which typically includes extra material and a brief comedy routine.
  • Retool: The show underwent a very mild one when it transferred to BBC2 for Series 10. "The Mystery Guest" segment was replaced by a more conventional interview without a mystery or participation element. Guests thus far have included journalist John Simpson and wildlife photographer Doug Allen.
    • It got a more complete one when it moved to Sky-1 as The Russell Howard Hour.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: frequently rhymes for comic effect.
  • Rule of Three:
  • Running Gag: Clips are usually repeated throughout a series, though certain jokes (like Russell's lazy eye or his odd brother) have gone through the entire show.
    • Footage of an American pastor using the words 'Mister Long-Legged Mack Daddy' to describe Barack Obama was used in the second series whenever the host mentioned Obama (along with a comical apology). This was spoofed with a clip of Howard himself using a similar title when Nick Clegg was mentioned.
    • "Sounds like what this guy yells out when he cums!"
    • A man in a gray suit carrying a cardboard cutout of an animal and chasing down Russell and a friend to demonstrate "the horror" of an attacking animal. Originated after a fail-tastic clip from an American news bulletin where someone used a cardboard cutout of a bear to demonstrate how scary having a bear in your garden would be.
    • "It sounds like X having a tricky shit!"
    • One series has Russell constantly referring back to two clips; one of a dog making a funny noise and a cat saying 'No, no, no'. The dog is usually used when Russell prefers it to something else, and the cat one is used for something particularly disgusting/disturbing.
    • His tendency to get beaten up by old women in the Mystery Guest segment.
    • Series 6 gives us the Screaming Dog and "Ain't nobody got time for that". Right, lamb?
    • American news claiming that teenagers are getting high on such bizarre substances as nutmeg and bath-salts!
    • Series seven has been Boris Johnson's "very nice" in response to anything sexual and the screaming sheep.
    • The first running gag for Series Eight is "Liquid Ass", seeming to take the place of the Boris Johnson clip from the previous series.
    • Later spoofed when at the end of each series, Russell recreates the viral video, including dressing up as the animals.
    • And, just to make things all the more awesome, at the end of Series Eight, Russell had his Mystery Guest (BRIAN BLESSED) recite both the "Liquid Ass" and "Ain't nobody got time for that!" gags. As with just about anything involving the man's voice, it was quite the spectacle to behold.
    • Series 10 has two so far: Following the mention of a number, Russell follows it with "That's two [Half of the number]'s you son of bitch!", parodying a YouTube video about Ebola. And making a threatening or morally repugnant statement before turning to another camera and grinning with an audible Twinkle Smile, in a parody of this political campaign video.
  • Sad Clown: Hints at this in his brief off-the-cuff rap, saying that it's his job to make jokes about the misery and the absurdity to make it better.
  • Self-Deprecation: More often than not, he takes the piss out of himself.
  • Shout-Out: One story was about a stolen E.T. statue being recovered on a beach, leading Russell to guess that it had a really wild night. Cue a Binge Montage with the E.T. statue In the Style of the end credits of The Hangover.
  • Special Guest: The Mystery Guests usually include one every series who is a celebrity (usually someone who was a big star around the time of Russell's childhood or teenage years). This has included Jet from Gladiators, former footballer John Barnes, and BRIAN BLESSED.
  • Spiritual Successor: The Russell Howard Hour, which does a lot of the same stuff but has time for more like surveying schoolkids. They even kept the newspaper armchairs from the guest interviews.
  • Stand-Up Comedy: The whole programme has elements of this, but the extended versions have an actual stand-up comedy segment. For those who attend the recording, there's a lot more of the stand-up, probably to make up for all of the re-recording necessary to edit everything together properly.
  • Sub-Par Supremacist: When Russell talks about the UK Independence Party and the English Defence League, he points out how absurd their ideology is and frequently makes fun of their appearance. For the EDL, he makes fun of the fact that the leader is uneducated. For UKIP, he makes fun of the neo-nazis within their ranks and Nigel Farage's appearance.
    (mockingly) I never read a book! I don't even know how to use a spoon! (sarcastically) What a role model.
  • Take That!:
    • Frequently against Justin Bieber and The Only Way Is Essex
    • "Shut uhhhhhhhhhhhhhp!" "FUCK OFF!"
    • Frequently aimed at The Daily Mail and similar tabloids.
    • Usually directs pretty epic ones at American Republicans and American gun politics, the nature of which is a particularly major Berserk Button for him.
    • While criticising Boris Johnson for blowing off a climate change debate, he says that everyone's done things they don't want to do - he's been on The One Show. Twice.
  • The Unintelligible: Seems Russell can't make out some Irish accents.
  • The Un-Smile: Gordon Brown. Apparently a fairy dies every time the man smiles.
  • We Didn't Start the Billy Joel Parodies: Done in a series two episode to mock the Daily Mail claiming that food gives people cancer. Can be found here.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Russell has his fair share of weird encounters.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Russell himself for reenactions and some cutaway gags.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Russell is afraid of guinea pigs. He hid behind his mystery guest when one was brought on.

Alternative Title(s): The Russell Howard Hour