The Tears of a Clown

Now if there's a smile upon my face…

Singer’s Night…

At the Robin Hood and Little John pub, Arnold, Nottinghamshire.

A tale from last Wednesday evening as I know there are many pub singing aficionados out there, like myself.

Of course Wednesday evening was a special one – Scotland had thumped the Norwegians and my England-supporting friends were crying into their beer after ignominious defeat at the hands of Northern Ireland. The ideal time to go out for a drink then…

Taking a walk through the dark streets of the neighbouring suburb I approached ‘The Robin’ and could hear something that sounded a little like music emanating from the whitewashed building – yes it was ‘Vocalist/Keyboard Entertainer’, Mickey, on his organ, leading a loud refrain of Y Viva Espana! Hooray!

As I entered the old pub I noticed a rather glum looking greying old flag of St. George, tied up on a balcony of some flats opposite, rather forlorn and looking all but fluttered out. Yes – this was going to be a good night I thought grinning to myself with the effects of schadenfreude still resonating strongly as I entered the pub.

Immediately through the door, I was met by no less than a seventy-five year old ‘matador’ dancing up to me, joining in enthusiastically with Mickey’s promptings. They’re fabulous things those electric organs aren’t they? Not only can they make birdsong sounds but Mickey can even imitate the clicking of castanets on there. Or perhaps it was El Matador’s knees clicking, I’m not sure. The young girl taking duties on the microphone was…er of the fuller figure; her heaving breasts appeared to follow one around the room like those scary white balloons from ‘The Prisoner’ series with Patrick McGoohan. She had a belting voice however.

The call rang out for, Arthur, Arthur, Arthur…and regular guest singer Arthur himself – an octogenarian with an Elvis quiff zoomed out from between someone’s legs and up to the mike in around 0.25 seconds. Now the mike and Arthur obviously love each other, but sadly Arthur is crap but has still not realised that fact yet. Finally, after three songs and weeks of my life, another singer prised the mike out of Arthur’s hand with a crowbar after a rendition of Ken Dodd’s epic ‘Tears’. Yes I was shedding them Arthur.

From my vantage point at the bar a rather large man with a Catweazle beard was brushing shoulders with me. From his associates I heard his name was ‘Big Malc’. Big Malc had only three teeth. Shortly, he received the nod and was at the mike doing an imperfect Elvis impersonation – complete with flat cap and donkey jacket.

“Tek a maaahhh haaaand”

“Tek a maaaahhh who-ell laaaaf teeeuuww”

“Cos‘ aahhh caaa—uuunnnttt heeeyyy-uuullppp”

“A-fallin’ in-a-huv-a-with-a-yeeww!”

It was stunning stuff; either that or I was very drunk. Deciding the latter was far more likely I headed off with the music still ringing in my ears, (and five pints of Guinness coursing through my veins).

I was just reaching for my Mp3 player for a little private sing-song on the way home, (Frankie Miller – Caledonia, no less, ya bass!) when I heard a large commotion coming from the flats where the grey England flag was strung up on the balcony, opposite the pub. Six officers of the law were carrying a young man by his nostril hair out of the flat where the flag was tied up. He was suitably handcuffed and thrown unceremoniously into the back of the meat wagon not before shouting,

“Leave me alone ya b***ards – I’ve done nothing wrong – she’s upstairs f***ing laughin’ at yer”

Seems like the England defeat had been all too much for that particular individual.

They tell me the age of variety is dead but you know I’m not so sure.

Oh what a night.

August 31, 2007 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , | Leave a comment

The Bad Comedians

The Noble art of Comedy?

Reflecting upon many a bad comedian over the years. I’d like to propose a toast to some of the very worst. Who better to begin with than this man?

Charlie Drake

“Hello my darlings” rang out the familiar catchphrase from the diminutive ‘comic’, but can anybody tell me what was remotely funny about this man? Very much in the ‘I look a bit peculiar so laugh at me’ mould, Charlie was a popular star of sixties TV. Unfortunately his goblinesque appearance offered his career little longevity.

http://stuartfrew.wordpress.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gifI heard a great story about Charlie Drake from a friend, Ali. “He was doing his end of the pier summer show at one of the seaside resorts in England, and he got chatting to a pretty young chorus girl, telling her that he’d noticed her, and that she had star potential, and that with a word in the right ear, he could make her a star,as he had all the contacts. The girl thanked him very much and said she was very flattered. To this, Mr Drake said “now, what would you say to a little f***?”. The girl summoned up all her dignity and said “goodbye, little f***!” Classic!”

Oh how we laughed.

Another instant admission to the Bad Comedians Hall of Infamy…

Roy Hudd

Just take a look at those great foaming gnashers – feel like laughing? I thought not. Roy has seemed to have been around forever and is a regular laugh-a-decade man. I initially set eyes upon this man as a kid watching his regular weekly show which as a normal five-year old I felt a bit insulting to the intelligence and a bit simplistic. In one ‘sketch’ I recall Roy dressed up in Lincoln Green to depict the outlaw ‘Robin Hudd’ and so it seems he has been robbing the Beano book of gags to give to poor us ever since. His riotous play on words using his surname still stands as he inflicts the more recent examples of his ‘art’ through “The Huddlines” radio program.

Gag for Roy please – make it nice and tight.

Oh how we laughed.

Okay, I’m on a roll now. Anyone prepared to confess a liking for this guy?

Arthur Askey

“Buzz buzz, buzz buzz, buzzy bee, buzzy bee” sang the little maestro in his infamous trademark ditty accompanied by his ‘amusing’ little jig. How entertained by himself Arthur would appear, sadly not reciprocated by many of his audiences. Oh how I would love to have seen the little twat crash and burn at the infamous Glasgow Empire – how DID he live so long anyway? That must remain a mystery.

In his early days Arthur could be heard on the ‘wireless’ with his erstwhile pals Ben Warris and ‘Stinker’ Murdoch I’m led to believe. Sadly the only thing that stunk were Arthur’s gags. Only to be compared with his jokes were his matchless catchphrases such as “Ayethenkew”, “Hello playmate” and “Right before your very eyes”.

Stop it Arthur – I’m crying.

Oh how we laughed.

Billy Dainty

What more can be said about this man? One word really. Sh*te.

Oh how we laughed.

The next inductee.

Norman Vaughan

Pictured above, how this sub-Tommy Trinder ‘comic’ ever had such a career I’ll never know. Perhaps he found his true vocation in those ‘Roses grow on you’ TV advertisements which have somehow managed to elude the clutches of Chris Tarrant.

I can picture him now, out of his depth comparing ‘The Palladium’, acting his head off like some second rate Bruce Forsyth with his clever catchphrases of “Swinging” and “Dodgy’ He was chosen to take over the game show, ‘The Golden Shot due to his ability in being the only man alive who could make Charlie Williams seem funny.

Kindly stick your Roses up your hole Norman.

Oh how we laughed.

Jimmy Cricket

“There’s more…”

Thankfully, not for some time Jimmy…

Oh how we laughed.

I truly can’t see many people dissenting with this choice.

Peter Glaze

The Crackerjack (altogether now – Crackerjack!) ‘star’ made a gloriously berift of humour duo with partner in crime Leslie Crowther, a man himself who was well know in Nottingham for…er…coming from Nottingham and…er liking cricket a bit.

Peter would always be the one who received the well aimed jet from a soda fountain in his coupon whilst acting his little head off. Mercifully he never appeared to progress to anything else apart from act as Leslie’s and later Don McLean’s (imagine that?) stooge.

The picture above demonstrates ably how ‘funny’ Peter was, note the hilarious hand expression and ‘endearing’ grin of this particular jolly japester.

My sides are still hurting.

Oh how we laughed.

Rod Hull

How unfortunate for him that the bird was a flightless one when he fell off that roof.

Oh how we laughed.

JIM BOWEN

Bullseye!

Bullsh*t more like, Jim.

Oh how we laughed.

Two numbskulls for the price of one this time, it’s:

Mike and Bernie Winters

Two idiots for the price of one, this pair were the only known comedy double act to feature two straight men. Let’s just say that when Bernie branched out with a new partner Shnorbitz the dog, the hound was funnier.

Forever in the shadow of comedy giants Morcambe and Wise, the brothers split many times, and I don’t mean our sides. Whilst Mike was meant to be the ‘smart, sophisticated’ one, Bernie played the grinning oaf perfectly…only he wasn’t playing…

These guys made Cannon and Ball look like comedy genius’s.

Another word from Ali on the gruesome twosome. The story goes that this pair were appearing at the Pavilion in Glasgow, a notoriously tough crowd, and Mike Winters came on stage and did a few minutes before his hopelessly unfunny stage foil followed him on. As soon as the other one hit the stage, some wag in the audience shouted “aw f***! There’s two o’ the c***s!”

Oh how we laughed.

An entirely personal one now that some may indeed not agree with.

Lennie Henry

Subtlety is not this man’s strong suit. When in times of lack of favourable audience response (i.e. often) he can be observed getting louder and more animated whilst resorting to leanings from his ex TISWAS-esque characters from decades ago and sub-‘Desmond’ rants.

I’m sure Lenny is a very nice guy and we know that he does his bit for charidee which is truely admirable, I mean, marrying Dawn French, who else would have done that? but for Christ’s sakes Lenny just go away will ya?

A big custard pie in the face for this useless tw*t.

Oh how we laughed.

“The Master of stand-up comedy”

“Lennie Bennett is one of television’s most prolific performers and is generally regarded as the ultimate professional. Indeed, few entertainers can equal his record of having had at least one series of his own show televised every year for the last 16 years.”

So runs the publicity blurb for former ‘Lucky Ladders’ host…

Lennie Bennett

Talent with a capital ‘S’ for sh*te, this man’s wit knew no beginning. After stumbling onto our TV screens with his equally vapid stand-up partner Jerry Stevens he ‘progressed’ into the role of that most unloved of celebrity types – the game show host. Lennie was at his finest when handing out the ‘prizes’ on Lucky Ladders. This seemed to consist of a small ladder painted gold which stood on a piece of Styrofoam. Apparently these works of art had to be handed back by the contestants after the show as they only had seven made.

Lennie’s early days on TV also took in that spiritual home of the the Bad Comedian – ‘The Comedians’, where he was know as something of a giggler. At least one person was amused Lennie…

Oh how we laughed.

Now here’s a face you’d never tire of punching.

Timmy Mallett

Yes I know he’s for kids but he has actually been well adopted by some grown-ups – well students anyway. This man’s trademark catchphrases make the utterings of Bruce Forsyth look like the witticisms of Oscar Wilde on a good day. “Utterly brilliant” and “bleugh” were two of his most inspired moments, it actually all goes downhill from there believe it or not.

In searching for the pen pictures for most of the above comedians it has been considered suitable for the purposes of this thread to show the protagonist at their most ridiculous. Searching for Timmie’s, well it was difficult to find one that made him look half-way intelligent, nay sane.

I know what I’d like to do with that ****ing mallet, sideways.

More from Ali: “Waking up on a Saturday morning in my 20s with a beasting hangover was made a million times worse if my nieces were staying if I went downstairs while the Wide Awake Club was on TV. Just catching sight of that t****r on TV was enough to turn an honest-to-goodness, bought and paid for hangover into a psychotic rage. Still… didn’t last long. By the time my oldest niece was about 5, she’d outgrown his humour and was more interested in Thundercats on the BBC instead!”

Oh how we laughed.

Introducing comedy’s answer to Daniel O’Donnell, it’s…

Roy Walker

Apparently softly spoken, genial Irishman Roy had the ideal training to be a ‘comic’, he was Northern Ireland champion at throwing the hammer and once was a part of the Vienna Boys Choir. Another funny man who succumbed to the game show idiom, one of Roy’s best known catchphrases on the show of the same name was “It’s good but it’s not right”. Well right on one score at least Roy. His other famous saying can also often be heard, “say what you see”. Happy to oblige Roy – your act is shite.

Oh how we laughed.

David Badiel

This man brings up an interesting theory. Some believe that to laugh at a comedian one has to like them too. (First rule of comedy, Spike). This man focuses that belief in me as I can’t stand his manner and sarcasm (which if used appropriately can be very funny of course) In his case he actually does seem to be a supercilious t****r.

Almost as funny as neuralgia.


August 31, 2007 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , , | 5 Comments

It was ten years ago today

It’s the tenth anniversary of Princess Diana’s untimely death in a French road tunnel and how the full of the subject is the media. This morning the two major channels covered the church service commemorating her death and of course there are thousands of words of text in the newspapers about the subject.

Does anyone tire of this scene, this mass grieving for someone most of us never met? I am ever incredulous at the supposed interest after all these years and can only assume that it is stoked up by a media who are short of genuine stories to print and broadcast. This may all sound a little harsh and certainly I’d admit to being no fan of the royal family – far from it – but I find the way that the story of her life is continuously foisted on the public to be tiresome and transparent. It’s time they let it go and it has been for a long period of time.

Most of us have lost loved ones along the way. I don’t see any vast outpouring of grief for those close to me and others who have departed – after a much harder life than the Princess’s. It was a shame when she died, time to let it go now.

August 31, 2007 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | 2 Comments

   

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