Bernard Manning the Manchester comedian is dead. He was a fat man of Jewish origin with a pudding basin haircut and long sideburns. His popularity peaked in the 1970s but he has been off television for past 20 years because his jokes were considered too racist and insufficiently PC for modern taste. Although, some have praised his comic timing, if you click on the Guardian Unlimited website you will find as much invective heaped on his memory as he unleashed upon 'Pakis', 'homos' and Guardian readers.
His act was a series of one liners that always shocked. One particular joke dates from the time of the Falklands war. "I see we have a couple of soldiers in tonight who fought bravely at Goose Green." The audience breaks into spontaneous and prolonged applause. Then he names them, "Carlos del Santos and Manuel Reyes."
He was undoubtedly offensive to many. But then, I find Billy Connelly offensive and Little Britain and Ben Elton and a whole host of 'alternative comedians'. Comedians by their very nature challenge the accepted norms. Staying in fashion is difficult. For years Benny Hill topped the TV audience ratings, but he suddenly fell out of fashion. Chasing semi-naked young women with Keystone Kops jerkiness was suddenly not funny. I watched a recording of Peter Cook doing his EL Whisty act the other day and I couldn't imagine how I found it amusing.
For me Yes Minister and Fawlty Towers have stood the test of time but precious little else has.
Bernard Manning? Well I remember laughing at him 30 years ago, but I hadn't seen hime recently. With comedy it is a matter of chacun a son gout. (with accents).