Russell Howard first came to our attention by being the anti-Boyle on Mock The Week, tempering the dark Scottish overlord's withering satire and quick-witted quips with enough boundless enthusiasm to make a Labrador puppy seem like a world-weary asthmatic. It makes perfect sense, then, to give the man a clear run at delivering the news to us in his own inimitable style, without the trappings of having to compete with all those other gag-hungry comics on Mock The Week. And that's exactly what Russell Howard's Good News is all about.
Now, there's no denying that the news tends to be a bit gloomy at times. And when we say gloomy, we pretty much mean "apocalyptically terrifying". Wars, riots, random murders, stock market meltdowns, the design on Jon Snow's tie – yes, it can all get a bit Book of Revelation. So thank goodness Russell Howard has decided to remind us that not all news is bad news. Some of it – the stuff that rarely actually gets covered in news shows – is actually fairly feel-good, and may just restore our faith in the sorry thing known as the human race.
In Russell Howard's Good News, comedy's unlikeliest heartthrob gets to highlight the stories which have made him laugh, giggle or gasp like a kitten on YouTube throughout the week, while pointing out the insanity of the world around us, all with a cheeky smile. It's not just Russ dishing out the laughs though; he has a little help from a mystery guest who's been making the headlines each week – if he can work out why the hell they've been in the news, that is.
Throw in Russ' pearls of comic wisdom found from trawling the web, foreign news channels and, er, his mates down the pub, and you've got a startling vision of how Have I Got News For You might have looked if it was scripted by a devilishly witty Care Bear. Our Russ has got a heart of gold you see, and while most satire's all gloom, Armageddon and workhouses, Russ always ends each programme with an uplifting tale of triumph, courage or kindness. It's not even necessarily funny – it's just nice. And we mean nice in a good way.
And lest you think it's just a big rambling stand-up show, it's actually sectioned off into various themed bits, rather like an actual news programme. Russell casts his eye over everything from Sports and Celebrity to "Weird Politics" and Art and Culture. What you really see is the chucklesome fruit of very, very hard work – behind the scenes, Russell and his team of elves (we assume they must be elves?) trawl through thousands of online news stories and clips to find only the finest and most worthy of comic comment. Now, if it was Frankie Boyle we'd easily imagine him doing very little of the trawling himself – more sitting on a throne of skulls cracking his whip as his researchers toil away, their pained bodies licked by the flames of Hell (or wherever it is in London that Frankie lives).
But Russell, as we've said, is very much the antithesis of all things Frankie, and this show is a refreshing reminder that you CAN be funny without actually insulting anyone or getting the Daily Mail riled up (though the latter is fun). No wonder Russell Howard is the thinking woman's cuddle bunny of choice. He'll even have the most die hard, black-clad Chris Morris fan sitting there with a big goofy smile on their face.