Monday, 13 September 2010

The Love of Laughter (Part I)

I'm currently reading a biography of David Jason. He's one my my many 'heroes'. As it happens, a number of others whom I also hold in extremely high regard are or also worked in the same field as him - making people laugh.

I am quite frankly in complete and utter awe at those people who can make others laugh. I've found throughout the years that it's something that I have always attempted. I can remember playing the fool even in primary school - deliberately falling off my chair whilst making it look genuine so to get some laughs. Is it a need for attention? A desire to make people like me? Whatever it is, I can understand why those who are much more proficient at this skill than me, do what they do.

I therefore have an enduring love of those laughter men and women through the ages who just have 'funny bones'.

Wasted Laughter
I don't mean smutty, blue comedians who will say anything for a laugh. There are those such as Jim Davidson, Russell Brand, Bernard Manning, Roy 'Chubby' Brown who will make me reach for the off button. Not my cup of tea. If you've been given a gift of being able to make others laugh (and it really is a gift) then why waste it on prejudices, racial stereotypes and derogatory remarks. Aren't we better than that?

Golden Laughter
Then there's real talent. Real comedy gold. Those entertainers who will echo down the ages and who, just the mention of their name, will raise a smile. You know who I mean. The giants are those such as David Jason himself, the 'Guv'nor Ronnie Barker, Tommy Cooper, Ken Dodd, Les Dawson, Rowan Atkinson, John Cleese, Michael Crawford, Dawn French, Victoria Wood, Arthur Lowe, Peter Kay, Kenneth Williams.

Everyday Excellence
For me there's two types of comedy that wins the day. There's the everyday, observational humour and then there's the good old-fashioned comedy routine laughter acts.

For me, the best comedians for everyday humour have got to be Peter Kay and Victoria Wood. It only dawned on me recently that they're almost a comedic brother and sister. Both northerners with a wonderful ability to make funny the run-of-the-mill, mundane things that we do and have to deal with. They have everyday language but they're well intentioned with it. They also have that added magical ability of being able to mix their comedy with music.

Everyone knows Victoria Wood's famous ode to 'Barry and Freda' so here's another of her belters, 'Reincanation'.

Then there's Peter Kay. Again, he just knows where the funny bone in. In this clip he demonstrates exactly what this writer used to do at weddings as a young boy - sliding on the dancefloor on my knees! I've also been known to do the 'Walking to the dancefloor dance'! I'm seeing him live in November in Cardiff. Can't wait!

The Cream of the Crop
But for me, at the top are Ronnie Barker and David Jason. They famously worked together on 'Open all Hours' but both were comic geniuses.

Indeed, Ronnie Barker was especially so as he wrote many of the sketches for 'The Two Ronnies'.

Here's a 'Greatest Hits' from the David Jason led Only Fools & Horses followed by that famous 'Two Ronnies' 'Fork Handles' sketch.

But all of the above and everyone else stands in the shadow of one giant who outshone them all. There is one man who for me epitomises what it means 'to be funny'.

That man is Eric Morecambe. He deserves a blog post all of his own and I shall therefore give him that deserved special treatment in The Love of Laughter (Part II).

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