Justin Lee Collins – Living Las Vegas

Guest tellysquawk by our newest contributor, Ian Dunn!

In the past two years Louis Theroux has made six one hour documentaries for the BBC.

In the same period, Justin Lee Collins has presented the tail end of the Sunday Night Project for Channel 4, a ten part chat show for ITV2 and six one hour documentaries for Sky 1. In the past year alone he’s taken up with Channel 5 and presented a quiz show, another ten part chat show, two one off documentaries, a three part series about Japan and now at long last, Justin Lee Collins: Living Las Vegas.

From this information we can derive firstly that ‘JLC’ (as I will refer to him because I am lazy) may just place higher value on quantity than quality and secondly that he has spread remorselessly across the television landscape of Britain like a unstoppable, bearded blancmange-shaped Borg (you know, one of those evil robot things off of Star Trek).

The Louis Theroux comparison is particularly instructive because JLC has achieved his success in part by ripping off Mr Theroux. Justin Lee Collins: Living Las Vegas (or JLC: LLV as I’m going to call it. Again, lazy) is essentially Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends for the simple.

The very simple.

Theroux’s programmes see him go into a complex and weird situation and then try to understand it and the people he meets. In JLC: LLV he goes somewhere and does a few things. That’s it. I believe we’re meant find his presence attractive to go along with but the things that come out of his mouth are so aggressively bland it’s hard not to become increasingly furious.

Here’s a brief selection. “I’ve always loved neon”, “It’s safe sexy!” and “In Vegas it’s not what you know but who you know”.

After a while you start to long for the piercing wit of Ralph Wiggum.

For some reason a large part of this first episode is taken up with Matt Goss of Bros, who now does a big band show on the Las Vegas strip. Our fearless presenter corners him after a show and goes straight for the jugular: “What are you going to do now. Sleep?” he enquires expectantly. Later he stares at Goss’s head gear and enquires “When did you start doing the hat thing? ‘Cos you’re not really known for that in Britain.”

Now of course one could watch Matt Goss face a grilling like that all day long but JLC: LLV never gives us the chance, hyperactively whisking its host from ‘Vegasy’ experience to ‘Vegasy’ experience every few minutes; it’s almost as if they know the whole premise of the show is so weak they have to keep throwing new things on the screen to keep the viewers’ attention.

JLC gets an agent, meets some strippers, becomes a stripper, chases bail jumpers with a low rent Dog the Bounty Hunter, meets Matt Goss repeatedly and marries a couple of hammered mid westerners. To each other, that is. Not to him: even JLC isn’t that cruel.

These various incidents also highlight what’s supposed to be the appeal of JLC; that he’s game for anything. And though it’s true he’ll give anything a shot, after a while it all starts to become a bit desperate.

One is reminded of nothing more than the unpopular kid at school whose desire for approval was so acute he’d run any errand and do any favour for pretty much anyone. Being such a walkover however meant that instead of getting that approval he was held in contempt by all and sundry leading him to try ever more desperately to please. And by ‘held in contempt’ we of course mean: had his head flushed down the loo.

Of course, we’d hate to see that happen to JLC. That would be awful.

What I find particularly displeasing about JLC’s antics here is that it’s a bit insulting to have him show up and immediately try to do something people have spent years mastering. For example, in this show he tries his hand at male stripping with a Chippendale style group.

Now I’m not going to say that male stripping is a honorable profession, practiced by gentlemen of decency and integrity. It may be, I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure they deserve better than Justin Lee Collins forcing his fat ugly chops onto their stage and bouncing around like hairy ball of wobbly Bristol butter.

Then again you can understand how JLC would think it fine to show up and perform without any skills, preparation or experience because he’s turned exactly that into an exceptionally lucrative TV career.

Episode 2 of JLC: LLV is on Channel 5 tonight at 10pm


About Hilary Wardle
Hilary is a freelance journalist and copywriter who writes for a wide range of websites, magazines and newspapers, including Buzzfeed, MSN, The Poke, Chortle, the Guardian and the Independent. She specialises in arts and entertainment, comedy, video games and viral content. Contact her at Hilary3@gmail.com.

2 Responses to Justin Lee Collins – Living Las Vegas

  1. Napoleon says:

    That thing he used to do where he’d drag the remaining walking-dead members of some half-remembered ’80s show back together so they could glower at one another in a hotel was all right.

  2. Mads says:

    I hope Sebastian Coe really does beat him to death.

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