Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Each to his own gout attack.

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).


richard said...

At first I thought you were writing about a side effect of CLL!

I was never particularly impressed with Bernard Manning but if he upset Graudinad readers he couldn't have been all bad! Billy Connelly and 'Little Britain' are certainly coarse but too feeble I feel to be truly offensive.

I totally agree that some humour stands the test of time and some doesn’t. I used to always watch the ‘Morecambe and Wise Show’ yet I saw a program a year ago and found it unfunny, embarrassingly so. On the other hand I saw a re-run of Fawlty Towers last week and laughed as though I had never seen the program before. It was also refreshing to see how un PC comedy was in the early1970's. I can’t see Auntie BBC re-running that particular episode of Fawlty Towers without some strict editing.

With all the fuss about Salman Rushdie’s knighthood, can you imagine the uproar if the comedy film ‘Monty Python's Life of Brian’ had been based on the life of someone born on the same day, in the same street, as Mohammed instead of someone born on the same day, in the same street, as Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

Wooster and Jeeves with Hugh Laurie (now available on DVD) is still quite funny as well. 'All Creatures Great and Small', while not a comedy, did have comedic moments and is still quite good as well.

Jim McVey said...

Bernard Manning when dressed as a woman gossiping over the fence always made me laugh. I am sure one could see in real life the same performance happening today.

Billy Connelly was at his best early in his career when his humour was created from personal observation. When he was a riveter on Clydeside, or as a child when he went doon to the water, wading into the Firth of Clyde braving the ice cold sea as it slowly crept up his body, turning everything blue in it’s wake. I remember it well.

Alf Garnet was the first to vocally despise all foreigners while being the supreme royalist. He was funny in his day but he would not time travel to today.

I would add to Fawlty Towers and Yes Minister, the more modern As Time Goes Bye, perhaps it is for me special, as I re-live English the spoken word and turn of phrase. Waiting for God I find hilarious for the same reason.

Terry Hamblin said...

As Times Go By and Jeeves and Wooster are also among my favorites.

Andy said...

They should use Allupurinol, like me.

Manu Manickvel said...

in order of my preference - PG Wodehouse's creations, then Yes, Minister & Fawlty Towers - all totally un-restrained fun (and only a racist sees signs of racism)