I’ve spent much of this year watching clips of British chat shows on YouTube, but no segment gives me a simultaneous and involuntary smile and cringe the way Michael McIntyre’s Send To All does. It’s a bit the British comedian has made famous across the pond, and it’s a true wonder it hasn’t caught on over here. Or is it simply a matter of time?
While he doesn’t do Send To All in his new stand-up special Showman that arrived on Netflix today, Americans could discover it after watching the jovial comedian’s special — or simply from reading this, hi! So here’s what happens: A willing celebrity hands over their cell phone, McIntyre crafts a text that somehow manages to make fun of both the sender and receiver at once, and it is blasted to every contact in their phone. This ranges from gardeners and plumbers to total A-listers. It’s the responses, those that appear on the phone screen and are read aloud, and from the audience watching, that make this bit work. Even as an innocent viewer at home, you’ll feel the second-hand embarrassment through the screen as you’re laughing and covering your eyes at once, as the message is, if not naughty, then certainly challenging of social norms.
Celebrities such as Ellie Goulding, Emma Bunton, Josh Groban, Sharon Osbourne, and even Bear Grylls have been brave enough to face the exciting and unpredictable game that likely results in them having to explain and apologize to their whole contact list. From this game alone we get to learn: who they have in their phone (and how they’re saved!), who does NOT have them saved in their phone in return, who bothers to text back and in a timely manner, and who is simply too smart to be fooled and gives a hello to McIntyre in their response. To watch a double dose of the game played, watch the James Corden clip above.
In fact, the closest we’ve gotten to this game Stateside is when Corden had Jennifer Lopez on his show for Carpool Karaoke and was so taken with all the big names that she had in her iPhone he had to pull the car over. Though instead of a message that went to everyone, Corden simply fired off a text to Leonardo DiCaprio (solid choice) who did write back with a LOL-worthy response.
The game manages to prove how popular celebrities are (and what access they have to other celebs) while also taking them down a peg at the same time and my god is that entertaining. Stars are just like us — but with a much fancier Rolodex! Though it is such a uniquely British quality to be both embarrassed by yourself and others and what others think of yourself at the very same time. Would Americans be as capable of feeling embarrassment? It’s not really a quality we’re known for, but you should feel some shame if you don’t find yourself hooked on watching a whole bunch of these clips in a row.