(image will be removed upon request)
You know how Billy Connelly once suggested replacing the National Anthem with the Archer’s theme tune?
Well, since today’s news has struck of the death of Ken Dodd, I propose the following update to the words:
God save our gracious Dodd
long live our noble Dodd
God save the Ken.
Send him hilarious
long to remain with us
God save the Ken.
Because, let’s face it, Doddy is like her Madge. They both go on and on for ever; they are both corny but inoffensive and they are both National Treasures. Doddy and his fluffy stick tickled the nation for decades; so long in fact that one of the first links on youtube was to an appearance on the Old Grey – hang on, no – the Good Old Days.
The GOD (interesting acronym) was a series which ran for almost as long as Doddy (1953-1983) and was basically Music Hall on TV. People dressed up in Victorian gear – all boas, corsets and crinolines – and crowded into an old-fashioned theatre to watch a variety of Acts, of which Doddy was one.
He’s about 34 minutes in:
He had his own show on TV for years, as well as performing live (where he was reportedly more risque) and amassing a fortune of millions.
This got him into trouble at one stage when he was tried on suspicion of tax fraud; however he was acquitted, giving rise to a rash of jokes from other comics about Ken Dodd’s lawyer:
RIP Doddy, your fans will miss you
Sometimes a programme you used to love can still inspire affection: I’ve been watching compilation episodes of the great Morecambe and Wise
and pondering exactly what it was that made them so funny. It wasn’t only the ease and perfect pitch of their performances, nor was it the effortless, natural humour of Eric Morecambe and his range of bizarre tics like looking at the camera and saying ‘the boy’s a fool!’ saying ‘Ern!’ in strangled tones; pulling his co-star aside and saying ‘can I have a word with you please?’, though these are undoubtedly funny. But what struck me watching these shows was the combination of two distinct styles: the classic double act of music hall, coupled with the surreal comedy of the scripts. They don’t just do routines to camera; they do them with, from, by and outside the camera. They break the fourth wall regularly by talking to the audience at home; they talk about ‘doing the show’ as though the whole programme is a rehearsal for the programme – and don’t even get me started on the ‘two men in bed’ routine. It’s impossible to put your finger on why it’s funny – but it is. It’s rare that comedy from that long ago would stand the test of time, but it so does. It’s as if M&W are the fount – the fons et origo, you might say – of all modern comedy. (See what I did there?)*
Something that has not stood that test is the American sitcom ‘Happy Days.’ I used to like this partly for the warm, fuzzy feeling it gave me – but mostly because I liked looking at the Fonz in his leather jacket astride that huge bike.
But now, looking at Henry Winkler in that pose makes me shudder. I can’t believe I ever thought the guy was cool; or that I actually wanted to be him (yeah, I know, I was a girl so I was supposed to just want to date him). He’s creepy – and nowadays the whole series is famous just for the phrase ‘jumping the shark’:
Morecambe and Wise were never cool; so I think maybe that’s the key to survival – not, ever, to be cool. And certainly to resist any temptation to jump a marine mammal on water-skis.
* The Fonz et origo – geddit?
*sigh* I’m wasted here