On occasion, this column may have made it seem that comedians hold nothing sacred. Not so Frank Skinner , who has told the Birmingham Mail that he spurned an offer to narrate the TV documentary series Benefits Street because he "didn't want to be critical of Brummies". The comic is from West Bromwich , three miles from the Winson Green community represented in the Channel 4 show. "The production company sent me a couple of clips," said Skinner. "They said it was going to be about the community spirit in the street, but I was a bit worried about the topic." Skinner must consider it a narrow escape; the series has been heavily criticised for portraying local residents as scroungers. Hot on the heels of news that Tim Minchin is working on a Groundhog Day musical , two more comedy greats are bidding for theatrical glory: Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David are working together on a Broadway play. There has been speculation about the duo's activities since Seinfeld revealed they were collaborating on a "big, huge, gigantic project". Now David has elaborated, telling Showbiz411.com he has "written a play" in which Seinfeld will "maybe" star. Hollywood's long-awaited Richard Pryor biopic, which will be produced by his widow, Jennifer, has lurched closer to fruition after news that Lee Daniels is in talks to direct . Michael B Jordan is the frontrunner to star as the late comedian, with Marlon Wayans and Eddie Murphy also under consideration, according to the Hollywood Reporter . Hopes are high that Daniels, fresh from the success of his film The Butler, can bring Pryor's larger-than-life story to the screen. Back in Britain , the big news is that Jimmy Carr has paid his taxes. The Mirror reports that Carr is stumping up £500,000 to the Exchequer, having extricated himself from a controversial tax avoidance scheme . In a week when comedy and politics seem intricately entangled, a petition supported by 105,000 signatories has failed to move White House officials, who say Jimmy Kimmel's chatshow cannot be taken off-air following an anti-Chinese remark . We also learn that vintage sitcom The Good Life is to be sold to North Korea as part of a package that takes the Teletubbies to Pyongyang , and that Russell Brand bad-mouthed parliamentary politics – and Nick Clegg in particular – during a visit to the Cambridge University students' union . In broadcast news, Chortle reports that Party, Tom Basden's play and radio sitcom, is being adapted for TV complete with its original cast, including Jonny Sweet , Tim Key and double-act Anna and Katy. Elsewhere, HBO is to remake Hard , the French comedy about an accidental pornographer, which will be adapted by Sex and the City writer Jenny Bicks , while the BBC will screen a documentary looking at the history and influence of 1980s satirical puppet show Spitting Image. Radio 4's Cabin Pressure, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch , has been nominated for two comedy gongs at the BBC Audio Drama awards. Best of the Guardian's comedy coverage • "20 years after it first appeared on TV, Friends is still the quintessential show about being twentysomething" – Anne T Donahue raises an anniversary glass to the enduring US sitcom • "I don't think anybody would want a president who's dealt with so much semen on television" – Simon Hattenstone interviews Lena (Girls) Dunham • "The French government is trying to act decently, if somewhat clumsily, in the face of the provocations of this rabble-rousing clown" – The Observer debates whether DieudonnÉ M'bala M'bala should be banned • "It's pretty disturbing there was no investigation" – Jerry Sadowitz discusses the unexplained death of his friend Mark Blanco • "Damn those future lefties! It's enough to make you hope we lose the war so they won't be able to abuse the freedom we're all definitely consciously fighting for!" – David Mitchell rewrites Blackadder for Michael Gove's benefit Controversies of the week Other countries get just as agitated as us by their comedy. In lieu of domestic tabloid-sponsored comedy outrage this week, we turn first to Nigeria , where a comedian is in hot water after cracking a rape joke on social media . Bright Okpocha, who jokes under the name Basketmouth, posted a comment suggesting that African women withhold sex so long that it might be necessary to rape them on a ninth date. Urged to apologise by tweeters including a former vice-president of the World Bank , he was soon insisting, "I would never in a thousand lifetimes encourage rape … The intention however was to highlight an unfortunate trend." The joke has been hotly debated in Nigeria , where writer Elnathan John tweeted : "There is a reason Basketmouth makes so many people laugh with female rape jokes. We condone it. It is not yet a big deal here." In Spain, the Chinese embassy is demanding an apology from the Telecinco TV station , after it broadcast a comedy sketch set in a Chinese restaurant. In the skit, complained the embassy's charge d'affaires, "a clown wearing strange 'Chinese clothes' jumped up and down, making all sorts of exaggerated gestures, [and] the other actors openly insulted Chinese people using words so vulgar it would make any educated person blush." The sketch also joked that the restaurant served dog and cat meat. "This is a commercial TV station, and so 180,000 Chinese people [resident in Spain] is a small enough audience to ignore," the complaint continued. "But let me warn you that behind these 180,000 Chinese stand 1.8 billion Chinese people from the world's most populous nation and second largest economy." Gulp. Best of our readers' comments Last week, Stuart Jeffries explored education secretary Michael Gove's opposition to Blackadder and its jaundiced take on world war one. Readers commented in their thousands, among them wwfan : Blackadder is the last of a line of ironic-comic interpretations of war. In The Good Soldier Svjek, Svjek is a seeming fool who somehow avoids getting sent to the front. Orr, the seemingly incompetent buffoon in Catch-22, is the only one to successfully escape the war. Edmund Blackadder is a more sophisticated, Machiavellian interpretation of these characters, someone who's obviously intelligent rather than feigning ignorance, although, of course, he does try to play the mentally incapable card … That Gove objects to a recognised and well-established literary mode that reaches back as far as pre-Socratic Greece does, as you suggest, make him the very idiot that such literature targets and mocks. He's the alazonic, self-interested politician that Socrates mocked in the early Platonic dialogues, the short-sighted English jingoist that Jonathan Swift so abhorred, and the privately educated, narrow-minded intellectual dolt that Oscar Wilde so often attacked. That such a man should have risen to a position of power is a sad reflection of a declining culture. But can any culture be in decline that also creates movies about, for example, Frank Sidebottom ? Jon Ronson wrote a terrific piece about his time working with Chris Sievey (AKA Sidebottom), by way of a preview of the forthcoming – and unlikely – movie about the comedian. AshleyPomeroy mused of the film's fashionable cast: I'd give anything to know if Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhaal had heard of Frank Sidebottom before agreeing to appear in the film - or if they assumed at first that it was an odd hoax. I can't wait for the Clint Eastwood -directed biopic of John Shuttleworth , starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Shuttleworth. With extensive CGI to recreate a Y-reg Austin Ambassador, 'cause there aren't any left. Clint, if you're reading – you have your instructions.
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