High Spirits with Shirley Ghostman


If you're a fan of "Borat" you'll love "Shirley Ghostman" the spoof telepsychic created by edgy British comic genius, Marc Wootton. "Shirley" -- who is a man, an extremely effeminate man with nail polish who'll have you know he's not gay, okay? -- is the Liberace-esque host of High Spirits with Shirley Ghostman. Shirley makes contact with the spirits of Elvis Presley and Lady Diana, reads the minds of pets and takes hapless contestants through a maze of humiliation in a reality show-within-the-show "Spirit Academy," the American Idol of psychic talent. As with Sacha Baron Cohen's "Borat" character, the people "Shirley" interacts with -- and the studio audienc e-- have no idea they're being put on. They might figure it out as it's going on, but sometimes they don't!

To one dumb-founded audience member "Shirley" suggests a dead relative was trying to tell him: "You like a drink, but you will not like waking up on the bathroom floor with a black eye and shit in your pants." In a bit taped at a vet's office, he informs a pet owner that her dog has asked him to ask her if she and her husband can knock it off with the anal sex when the dog is in the room. There are tons of these kinds of moments in "High Spirits with Shirley Ghostman."

I've inflicted "Shirley" on many a friend and everyone agrees: This is one of those "pee in your pants funny" shows. An absolute must see if you are a fan of humiliation comedy like Ali G or Larry David. It's the equal of both.

Shirley auditions the psychic talent | Shirley helps her apprentices channel dead celebrities | The Spirit Academy finale | Shirley Ghostman Channels Lady Di | Shirley meets the Skeptics | A Skeptic writes of his "psychic" encounter with "Shirley Ghostman" | More Marc Wootton: "My New Best Friend" (insane humiliation reality show)


  1. Recently there has been a string of posts on here about these kind of amazing British comedies. It really makes me happy to see them getting the appreciation they deserve.

    If you guys got BBC Three you’d love about 20% of what they do. The rest is repeats of Family Guy, crappy shock docs and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps.

  2. I know the two skeptic blokes.

    They are regulars at “skeptics in the pub” in London. Google that term. There’s one tomorrow night in Holborn. Come along!!

    During one meeting, they showed their appearances with Shirley, and now think it’s great fun, but didn’t while the filming was going on. They were completely taken in by him, and though he was serious. A serious nutjob.

  3. It’s the tastelessness that is the point, though, isn’t it? This guy is right up there with the black velvet Elvis paintings and the like.

    The Spirit Award episode where he makes them go through this spiritual obstacle court, complete with giving a tarot reading in the middle of it? That was pretty funny. It reminded me of that show “You Can’t Do That on Television.” Silly, silly stuff. Where these people find the energy I will never know.

  4. This so reminds me of Little Britian. The announcer guy sounds like theirs, and Shirley could have been hatched up and played by Matt Lucas.

  5. oh man, I wanted to be the first one to mention Walter Mercado, of “Walter, las Estrellas, Y Usted”, which I have only watched by accident when changing channels.

    It’s too bad his wikipedia entry doesn’t have a photo, because that guy trowels on the eyeliner like you wouldn’t believe. I’ll never forget changing channels one day and seeing his bizarrely made-up visage and sparkled caftan. Like if Liberace and Ann Rice had a kid.

  6. I shall never understand the appeal of “humiliation comedy”. You guys that like it, do you get a kick out of humiliating people in your daily lives? Did you kick younger kids around at school until they wanted to die? Do you like inflicting pain?

  7. @15 :The “joke”, if there is one, has nothing to do with homosexuality – it’s a lampooning an entire caste of odious fakes, many of whom present themselves in the same sexually ambiguous manner. Unfortunately, I find the parody exactly as annoying as the real thing. I’d have the whole bloody lot of them locked up under the Trade Descriptions Act. Marc Wootton too, since he takes money for being funny.

  8. @16 – The Humiliation in “my new best friend” is entirely self-inflicted. The mark could – at any time – say “This guy is an idiot, the truth is I’m on a game-show, and I have to pretend to like him.” but thier own greed spurs them on. They (of thier own free will) chooses to be humiliated and take the money.

  9. I’m with Chris on this one. It isn’t funny to fool someone and then laugh at them, and it isn’t self-inflicted. I’m sure there are circumstances where we could all be fooled and humiliated. You’d feel differently about it, then.

  10. This sounds even crueller and more unpleasant than ‘actual’ psychics.
    But I’m sure it is hilarious.
    I don’t really get your Ali G/Larry David connection, they do pretty different things.

  11. My favorite one of these is Lance Krall’s “Chu Chi, Master of the Afterlife”. Dude is fucking hilarious!

  12. I don’t see the Ali G connection either, it’s more like extremely long outtakes from failed candid camera items. “Embarrassing tomfoolery” would be a better term. Just keep going and going and maybe something funny will happen.

  13. He’s obviously based off Walter Mercado, the flaming astrologer on Univision.

    Yep, my immediate thoughts too.

  14. blimey – I did all the animations for this show years ago. Its last thing I expected to turn up on Boing Boing

  15. Sorry, but I have to chime in:

    I adore Larry David. I loathe Sacha Baron Cohen.

    The difference?

    Larry David doesn’t humiliate actual, real people. He humiliates characters. I will never, ever understand how getting someone to sign a waiver and then making them look stupid for all the world to see is funny. It’s cruel. And this guy is making fun of people’s dead relatives??? Spiritism is indeed total bunk, but you have to tread lightly when you’re dealing with people who’ve lost loved ones.

    Not funny.

  16. Unfortunately I had the miserable experience of going to a recording of one of the High Spirits shows in London.

    No-one in the audience was fooled for a microsecond, it was just unfunny and embarrassing for all, if only it had been even close to Borat. Had he not re-shot his ‘wacky’ antics time and time again, perhaps he might have fooled a child. Maybe.

    I got in the quickly growing queue to withdraw permission to use my image and the producers actually rang me the next day to apologise.

    It was so bad, I’m still on the production company’s priority ticket list, seemingly for life.

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