Having the monopoly on the funeral industry in Piffling, it doesn’t matter how rubbish Rudyard Funn is at his job, everybody needs a funeral at some point in their lives (or indeed after). Enter Eric Chapman, the competition who has the gall to open his funeral home right across the road like a Wallgreens forcing out the local (albeit incompetent) drugstore. With charm and kindness, Eric woos Rudyard’s secretary Georgie, unintentionally snags the heart of his sister Antigone, buys up every flower in town, and steals the front page of the newspaper with his good businessman stunts.
Radio sitcom Wooden Overcoats is tightly written. The jokes about having an agnostic reverend at the funeral services or the madness that ensues when Rudyard tries his hand an embalming despite not having been trained are beautifully crafted, occasionally with a pullback-and-reveal only possible in radio. Rudyard’s revenge in episode two is masterfully carried out to its boomerang conclusion. The joke is always on the joke player. The third episode, however, is completely taken over by the characters rather than the marketing jokes, as Antigone wants to go to the cinema on her own but is instead interrupted by Eric on a date with Georgie and Rudyard spying on them.
The acting is consistently good across the board. Felix Trench as a strong buffoon protagonist, Belinda Lang as an appropriate narrator (did I mention the narrator is perplexingly…a mouse?), Tom Crowly as the smarmy Eric Chapman, Ciara Baxendale as the hilarious Georgie, and definitely my favorite Beth Eyre as Antigone Funn with the voice texture of a young Glynis Johns.
Wooden Overcoats is entirely inappropriate. And that’s what makes it so funny, in the same way knowing you’re not supposed to laugh at religion makes Father Ted doubly funny or, closer to home, knowing you’re not supposed to laugh at mourners makes Death at a Funeral doubly funny. This sitcom is on par with these greats, so if you’re into audio comedies, Anglonerd magazine can’t recommend Wooden Overcoats enough.
You can listen to the episodes here. They have also done live performances.