The pictures above are The Monty Python team as Gumbys, The Goons, Terry Pratchett, Kenneth Williams as Rambling Syd Rumpo and Douglas Adams.
I thought, as I had posted some pretty deep and dire stuff of late, that I should do something a little lighter before my readers become suicidal. ‘Dead people readeth not Blogs.’ as Shakespeare may well have said but didn’t. Yes, today for one day only we explore humour. To paraphrase Dickens in ‘A Christmas Carol.’
Spirit : I am the spirit of humour past.
Me : Long past?
Spirit : No your past
So join me on a journey through the extreme silliness which has permeated my life. Unfortunately I have no textual CGI so you will have to imagine a calendar peeling off pages backwards to indicate we are travelling back in time.
The scene, not sure! The people….Not really sure… but someone has told me that my father loved the Goons (A radio comedy series.). The old boy is not around viz being deceased by this time and all I know of them is the ‘Ying tong song.’ However the calendar does its forward stuff and the younger me explores the Goons a little further and finds he has inherited his Fathers sense of humour, it was delightfully silly and lampooned many things. Not least of these were the restrictions imposed in WW2. One of the participants was Spike Milligan, of whom more later.
We move forward now to my apprenticeship in humour. it features such things as Carry on films, Frankie Howerd, The Doctor films and those Naughty programs full of innuendo. Then later on the main comedy influence of this time hit me like a sledgehammer. I had been following ‘Do not adjust your set…’ and ‘That was the week that was’ when suddenly I watched ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ in which these all came together. It was random and the juxtaposition of totally unrelated events and places blew me away.
In the North Minehead By election sketch the entire inner circle of the Nazi party (Including Mr Hilter.) were alive and living in a guest house in Minehead, England. They were fighting in the election under the name National Bocialist party. This seamlessly became extremely silly coverage of the election itself. It would be hard to describe it all here but most of the sketches were transferred onto DVD and are now on you tube. This is one of my favourite sketches.
Now things went slightly askew. I discovered that Kenneth Williams (A Carry on film stalwart!) had in fact had an alter ego in the early Radio program ‘Round the Horne’. This would have been around the same time as the Goons and early Monty Python. I had missed it for two reasons. 1 I was only about 8. 2 It was full of humour featuring homosexual references and innuendo so I wouldn’t have understood it.
The Williams Character ‘Rambling Syd Rumpo’ was a folk singer who sang to traditional English folk tunes. The Lyrics were meaningless, full of words which made a kind of sense, but filtered through Williams natural talent for innuendo and his high pitched nasal whine, were made to sound extremely rude. I will post a link so please try to have a listen, it is extremely funny.
The seventies were a low point for me. They were full of boring Sitcoms and variety shows. There was a treat in the form of Ronnie Barker (In his sketch show The Two Ronnies.). Occasionally there was a sketch in which Barker’s love of wordplay, together with more innuendo and delivered deadpan, provided many a giggle from my good self.
Timing of all these shows is a little difficult for me to remember but it doesn’t really matter, I discovered them all and rediscover them again and again. I know it was about now that Spike Milligan re entered my world of comedy. it was a sketch show called (Over several incarnations.) Q7, Q8 and Q9. Now Milligan was a manic depressive like many comedians, and this show was always totally random. Even the cast didn’t seem sure what was going on but, like the Goon show, was hysterically funny.
In the 80’s and 90’s there were some shows worth watching. ‘Not the Nine O’clock news’ and The Blackadder series were two but in the noughties the golden age of comedy was over for me. It all seemed to be rehashed versions of the shows I have already mentioned. I little realised that books could contain humour but I was about to learn.
I came across two authors who were so similar in their delivery and style that I once thought they were the same person. The both built up scenarios which ended up in a literary punchline. One specialised in footnotes, the other in lampooning science fiction. both explored philosophical and scientific issues while maintaining the story. Both littered their work with historical and scientific references which made you want to learn more. Obviously I can’t link to a book but both have been immortalised in film. I give you…Terry Pratchett and his Colour of Magic.
……..and Douglas Adams and his Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
These videos are great but read the book to see why they are comic heroes of mine. Unfortunately these gents are no longer with us.
So there you have it… a potted history of the main characters in my world of humour. it is not exhaustive and there have been others who made me laugh but these people were the ones who had me laughing again and again. Enjoy.