Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The IT Crowd

One of the things I came away with from the FOSS conference of two weeks ago was "The IT Crowd", a new British sitcom. It's all the rage in local geekdom, apparently. I finally had a chance to catch a couple of episodes and I tell you, it had me in tears...of laughter.

"The IT Crowd" follows the (mis)adventures of the tech support team of a small company in London. There's Roy, who charms callers with his winning personality (not!); there's Moss, a nerd who still lives with his Mum; and there's Jen, who knows nothing about IT but got the job because "she said she had extensive experience of computers like using mices, clicking, double-clicking, and that thing that goes on the floor... the er hard-drive?" Guess who's the manager.

Despite it's name, "The IT Crowd" really isn't about geek humor. Rather, it's a non-geek's look at a very geeky world. For example, when Moss explains what he's doing in what is obviously a stream of technobabble, his voice is replaced by hissing static. What little tech-related humor there is is purely incidental and exaggerated, intended to make fun of stereotypes, both geek and management. The laughs come mainly from the insecurities and social ineptness of the characters.

"The IT Crowd" does give one very important piece of technical advice as part of it's running gag. When calling tech support for any problem whatsoever, the first two questions you are most likely to get are:

"Have you tried turning it off and on again?"


"Are you sure it's plugged in?"

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