Ah’ hell! So there goes Victor Lewis-Smith … after a “short illness” – a term that he may well of proffered to describe his life – in the typical fugue of overly-descriptive sardonic rampancy he was notorious for rousing.
VLS was an extraordinary kind of rogue element “cultural disruptor”, creative writer, producer & satirist who had somehow managed to both infiltrate & secure residency (albeit extremely fringe) in shadowy sections of mainstream broadcasting/publishing…or something.
My understanding & familiarity with the brilliance of his work is derisory, pretty much limited to a single televised production on his Associated Rediffusion upstart that I think only lasted for one season back in the 90s before it was assumedly discontinued/terminated due to offence, scurrility related legal writs or viewer deficiency (they used to screen it in the necropolis hour on C4).
The show was called TV Offal. I was just a adolescent at the time, but it was one of the greatest things I had ever seen, & one of the very, very few screenings that could compete with the kind of fast, absurdist & eccentric breed of humour & idiolect me & my small crew of miscreants had autogenerated.
I’ve never forgotten it.
At the time, there was almost nothing to my knowledge that was on that level, or even close, beside the following medley (all endeared to us) of Troma TV, the marvellous Zit Comic & of course the Ren & Stimpy Show.
It was a very specific brand of nut-fuck humour smashed through a contrarian intelligence veering into obscenity & exceeding its restraints … a constant dance with the permissible line until the higher-ups call-it-in & close-it-down.
As Victor phrased it himself after whatever the latest incident of upset & rancour he had provoked was “It is funny. They say they want dangerous radio, but they would prefer it not to be actually dangerous.”
Victor was authentically untrammelled & would take tokenist positions before burning the outpost & moving on the brimstone.
It is now very, very much worth going back & aggregating the path of destruction.
I watched episodes TV Offal (co-produced by cohort Paul Sparks by-the-way) for the first time since the inchoate 00s recently …. That guy was so, so, so far ahead it is almost unnerving.
Shit is fantabulous! & rarely drops the onslaught or immaculate & rampageous flurry of slurry & “gonzo” Dadaist subcultural surrealism-strangled side-swipe.
There is a secondary success with VLS, cos’ somehow … fucking somehow – he got in! The establishment almost never admits marksmen of that caliber really, at least not without caponizing them first & shooting them full of sedatives … there just too dangerous otherwise & they show up the floss.
simulacrum smegma subsequently surfaced with South Park (which debuted the very same year as TV Offal) & later Jack Ass, both programs that I never got into for whatever the reason, but they just were not as incendiary.
TV Offal however was seared into the circuit board & has existed as a pungent memory.
Brass Eye was another short lived but more widely acclaimed & acknowledged supra-satire from Chris Morris.
There are very specific qualities & niche distinctions to TV Offal, & it was cranked to an uncomfortably vertiginous standard.
It is a masterclass of that kind of mad, rabid, fast, out-of-hand, risk-inebriated subterranean subcultural Styrofoam in the storm-drain mayhem – as agile & creative as it is raucously offensive & inadvisable.
& actually, watching it now is bizarrely almost more radical/refreshing than it was then, as current cultural norms & proprietary policing would never, ever allow so much of this to air in any public capacity under the contemporary restrictions & cultural curtailing.
The guy was a brilliant fucker.
Another video artist & chop-shop mechanic that mixes similar moulds is Down Chunder –