Some of the best comedy can come from mishaps during situations we all understand. Selecting a universal day-to-day event and infusing it with something ridiculous can bring the laughs by taking something we know and subverting it. Bingo, for example, is a game that most people understand. So, it’s no surprise that several comedy shows have taken a game of bingo and added a comedic flair to it. Not only does this make us laugh, but it makes us nod in comprehension of the situation we might have all experienced. Here are three of the best bingo scenes in comedy TV.
Why Do Bingo and Comedy Go Well Together?
Bingo is a straight-forward game so creates a good frame of reference for people to instantly understand what is going on. As with most comedy, subverting our expectations away from the ‘norm’ is how laughs are generated. So, as the following examples will show, having something outside the ordinary occur during the game immediately brings the comedy. But TV can inform bingo in the same way. As Betfair Online Bingo shows with their Deal or No Deal bingo room, not only does bingo inform TV shows, but TV shows give inspiration for themes for bingo games. Taking the essence of the hit show, the game amps up the tension as it does in the studio to provide players with an experience that they would recognize from the popular TV show.
Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father
We are already primed to laugh at Travels with My Father as comedian Jack Whitehall takes his prim and proper dad on a trip around the world. One episode in the third season found them in a retirement resort in Arizona, where Jack took the role of bingo caller. Hilarity ensued as he began calling amusing numbers to the audience and then suggested his father will pay $1,000 for the winner. Whitehall Sr. then called out ‘bingo’ but was admonished for cheating – and someone else eventually won. The show follows much of the same formula for every situation and the trip to the bingo hall highlighted the relationship between Whitehall and his father. It did provide a rare glimpse of what a high-stakes bingo game is like.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Larry David’s sitcom has covered a lot of ground in the form of cringe comedy since its inception in 2000. We’ve seen Larry struggle with everyday situations that make us scream at the TV in recognition. So, it’s no surprise that in Season Five, Larry takes on bingo. During the game – which Larry claims ‘bingo’ for – a fellow player suggests he misheard the last number called. To clear things up, he asks to see the caller’s pad, which she refuses. Shortly after, the other player ends up winning and Larry becomes suspicious that they were in cahoots.
Better Call Saul
Breaking Bad’s black comedy prequel series about Walter White’s lawyer Saul Goodman helped flesh out the story we followed over five nail-biting seasons. Breakout star Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) is not the lawyer we know him as and as much as Breaking Bad is about Walter White becoming Heisenberg, Better Call Saul is about Saul Goodman becoming his sneaky lawyer. To gain new clients for his ailing business, Saul becomes a bingo caller. It becomes a watershed moment for Saul as he has a breakdown and begins saying things over the microphone that he shouldn’t. We watch him make a commitment to himself to become the Saul Goodman we know from Breaking Bad.
Bingo scenes are devised for TV shows to infuse comedy into a situation we are familiar with. Most people have an awareness of bingo, so to add comedy to a scene helps create humor. From Jack Whitehall to Saul Goodman, bingo scenes provide a platform to add some comedy by going off-piste with what the bingo caller says – and instantly makes us wonder ‘what would that be like if I were there.’ That’s what makes them so effective.