Author Topic: Morecambe & Wise on Python. University comedy Vs Comedy derived from music hall?  (Read 4358 times)

I know it's all subjective but I can't believe people are calling them shit! It's up there with people that declare the Beatles were rubbish.

I still shamelessly steal Eric's joke when I hear an ambulance shoot past.

"He'll never sell any ice creams going at that speed"

It's just fellas messing around and having a laugh and that. Vic & Bob borrowed loads from them.

I know it's all subjective but I can't believe people are calling them shit! It's up there with people that declare the Beatles were rubbish.

I still shamelessly steal Eric's joke when I hear an ambulance shoot past.

"He'll never sell any ice creams going at that speed"

Jokolgists have located that as early as Hancock's half Hour.

M&W had the Beatles as guests and nailed the irreverent banter, seamlessly in touch with the zeitgeist 'ELLO BONGO

edit: tho its a bit mad that peak of relevance was TWENTY YEARS before the end of the ITV series and they went out more popular than they started

I think it depends on the M&W era. To me, M&W 1963 feels still quite edgy and full of energy; M&W mid-70s (when they met Palin, as above) is still brilliant but it's firmly establishment: the laughs are highly scripted and the guests are far more regimented (The Beatles repartee in 1963 is scripted but you feel there's room for spontaneity that the 70s celebs clearly don't have on there).

In addition, the best Beatles v comedians is clearly the Ken Dodd one with Gay Byrne (although Dodd did also work with M&W writer Eddie Braben around this time https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0102635/#writer, the M&W writers in 1963 were Sidney Green and Richard Hills ).

Jake Thingray

  • Chacun a son gout, that is yer actual French.
    • Journalisted
I've mentioned this before, but as late as 1990, when reviewing the Omnibus documentary Life of Python, The Stage newspaper was still insisting that Python, like the 60's satire boom before it and Ben Elton after it, was only for students and public schoolboys, was not influential at all, and any pioneering had already been done by the Goons, and Milligan solo. Not until Fawlty Towers did Cleese register on Old Showbiz's radar.

the science eel

  • married to Su Pollard for 8 years
    • PRELUDIN - where goons don't go
I know it's all subjective but I can't believe people are calling them shit! It's up there with people that declare the Beatles were rubbish.

I still shamelessly steal Eric's joke when I hear an ambulance shoot past.

"He'll never sell any ice creams going at that speed"

Greatest line ever.

I think it depends on the M&W era. To me, M&W 1963 feels still quite edgy and full of energy; M&W mid-70s (when they met Palin, as above) is still brilliant but it's firmly establishment: the laughs are highly scripted and the guests are far more regimented (The Beatles repartee in 1963 is scripted but you feel there's room for spontaneity that the 70s celebs clearly don't have on there).

In addition, the best Beatles v comedians is clearly the Ken Dodd one with Gay Byrne (although Dodd did also work with M&W writer Eddie Braben around this time https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0102635/#writer, the M&W writers in 1963 were Sidney Green and Richard Hills ).

The Doddy/Beatles clip is very funny - particularly when they're trying to find an 'earthy' name for him so he can reinvent himself as a pop star. George: "Sod'. Doddy does look nervous throughout though probably because he knows they could run rings around him.

Everyday life has probably changed more in the last 40 or 50 years than philosophy syllabuses or TV arts programs have changed. I'm less familiar with Morecambe and Wise, but a lot of The Two Ronnies feels like it's from an alien civilisation, whereas everybody still loves the Spanish Inquisition and annoying shop-keepers. Which doesn't relate to quality, but does relate to what seems dated or funny.
seems unfair there to cherry pick the classic Python rather than you know, blancmanges playing tennis, to compare to "a lot of the Two Ronnies"

I mean look at this (posted here a couple months ago)
https://youtu.be/yYb55tx-WK0

How can that not easily sit next to the best of Flying Circus today?

Echo Valley 2-6809

  • Part of no circle
Jokolgists have located that as early as Hancock's half Hour.

Citation needed. I don't remember hearing it in Hancock or elsewhere. Fairly sure it's an Eddie Braben original for Eric.

Citation needed. I don't remember hearing it in Hancock or elsewhere. Fairly sure it's an Eddie Braben original for Eric.

This must be the joke in question, which does have a nice relationship to it but also leaves room for something a bit different in the immediate confusion of the ice cream joke.




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mH8Zq5yteTc#t=12m55s

The Doddy/Beatles clip is very funny - particularly when they're trying to find an 'earthy' name for him so he can reinvent himself as a pop star. George: "Sod'. Doddy does look nervous throughout though probably because he knows they could run rings around him.

Maybe, but it's obvious the lads had great respect for Doddy, even hero worship. He was a fellow scouser who had been a top of the bill act for quite a few years.
I love his line (assuming it's the same clip) where he says "they've got a great gimmick, it's talent".
He clearly respects them, but with his experience of the joys of provincial variety theatre, I doubt if he was particularly intimidated.

Echo Valley 2-6809

  • Part of no circle
This must be the joke in question, which does have a nice relationship to it but also leaves room for something a bit different in the immediate confusion of the ice cream joke.




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mH8Zq5yteTc#t=12m55s

Thank you and apologies to OnlyRegistered. I'm sure I've heard that episode and presumably not made the connection. It's obviously similar in essence, but different enough to be a coincidence.
In Braben's autobiography, he mentions Eric putting on his pyjamas in the dressing room just before the recording and saying, 'I've been waiting all week to say this line'. No mention of it being an old one.

I think it depends on the M&W era. To me, M&W 1963 feels still quite edgy and full of energy; M&W mid-70s (when they met Palin, as above) is still brilliant but it's firmly establishment: the laughs are highly scripted and the guests are far more regimented (The Beatles repartee in 1963 is scripted but you feel there's room for spontaneity that the 70s celebs clearly don't have on there).

Going for jokes about them being old timers is pretty edgy and irreverent for its time. Especially when the who are these shaggy haired kids stuff wrote itself.

Its surprising the black and white BBC stuff and Two of a Kind wasn't repeated much if at all, I don't think there was even a clip show of 60s stuff made when M&W was repeated all the time. Can't remember seeing any M&W in monochrome other than the Beatles clip and a few bits of Des Oconnor banter. There has to be loads of good bits thats that are rarely seen, I might get a torrent and give it a go if I have time in the autumn, but so many musical turns to skip through...

Shaky

  • I drink your thread
Textbook example of a non-story, that Beeb article, although the interview snippet itself is interesting. M & W were two decades older than the Pythons. Morecambe's son hits the nail on the head about the natural gulf between the groups. I'm more surprised Eric & Ernie liked any of it, to be honest. And Palin's reaction is basically, "Fair enough."

It's hardly on a par with the stuff Spike Milligan said about Rik Mayall et al.

the science eel

  • married to Su Pollard for 8 years
    • PRELUDIN - where goons don't go
Textbook example of a non-story, that Beeb article, although the interview snippet itself is interesting. M & W were two decades older than the Pythons. Morecambe's son hits the nail on the head about the natural gulf between the groups. I'm more surprised Eric & Ernie liked any of it, to be honest. And Palin's reaction is basically, "Fair enough."

I suppose so, in general, but he did say it made him feel a bit sad.

Lfbarfe

  • CEO of Cunstric Industries PLC
    • LE Confidential
Yeah i know the headline should be provactive but saying that he was "bored stuff" when he also says parts were "very funny" seems out and out deceitful

Also who's not bored stiff for eight minutes during their show when some bloody long-forgotten musical act comes on.

The headline is misleading, but hopefully the furore will have made people listen to the documentary, which I thought was rather good. Some nice stuff in there from Arthur Smith, who was a student at UEA and involved with the telly station.

The thing about Morecambe and Wise is that everything they did that looked so effortless and instant had been rehearsed into the ground for a week beforehand. They were both absolute buggers for nailing stuff down. Eric especially. Ernie was more able to handle disruption and go with whatever happened. The fact that they made it seem so casual and light shows how good they were.

As for Python, if they'd edited more, as per Eric's instructions, it wouldn't have been Python. They had the freedom to meander and used it brilliantly. Some of the things that bore one viewer to tears will be another viewer's favourite moment. Python had to be as it was. They had to do all that so comedy could be where it is now. Even if you don't like it, they influenced so much.

Lfbarfe

  • CEO of Cunstric Industries PLC
    • LE Confidential
Maybe, but it's obvious the lads had great respect for Doddy, even hero worship. He was a fellow scouser who had been a top of the bill act for quite a few years.
I love his line (assuming it's the same clip) where he says "they've got a great gimmick, it's talent".
He clearly respects them, but with his experience of the joys of provincial variety theatre, I doubt if he was particularly intimidated.

You're right. That clip is a mutual appreciation society, and when George tops his gag, he loves it. Doddy was a regular on Scene at Six Thirty. If he had something to promote in the Granada region, he'd pop along and do a bit for a modest fee. He was booked that day, I think, to promote his Christmas show at the Liverpool Royal Court. It was pure coincidence that the Beatles were booked for a pre-record the same day. He was recording his bit in the afternoon, and he asked Johnnie Hamp, the producer, if he could stick around and see 'the boys'. Johnnie said they should do a bit together. It was going to be a couple of minutes. I think it runs in the end for 14.  Years later, the clip was used in a Beatles compilation programme and Doddy rang Johnnie to ask about the fee. Johnnie said "It was six guineas originally, and a repeat is half, so you're on for £3.15."

Lfbarfe

  • CEO of Cunstric Industries PLC
    • LE Confidential
In addition, the best Beatles v comedians is clearly the Ken Dodd one with Gay Byrne (although Dodd did also work with M&W writer Eddie Braben around this time https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0102635/#writer, the M&W writers in 1963 were Sidney Green and Richard Hills ).

And none of that Dodd/Beatles thing was written. It was just them riffing.

the science eel

  • married to Su Pollard for 8 years
    • PRELUDIN - where goons don't go
You're right. That clip is a mutual appreciation society, and when George tops his gag, he loves it. Doddy was a regular on Scene at Six Thirty. If he had something to promote in the Granada region, he'd pop along and do a bit for a modest fee. He was booked that day, I think, to promote his Christmas show at the Liverpool Royal Court. It was pure coincidence that the Beatles were booked for a pre-record the same day. He was recording his bit in the afternoon, and he asked Johnnie Hamp, the producer, if he could stick around and see 'the boys'. Johnnie said they should do a bit together. It was going to be a couple of minutes. I think it runs in the end for 14.  Years later, the clip was used in a Beatles compilation programme and Doddy rang Johnnie to ask about the fee. Johnnie said "It was six guineas originally, and a repeat is half, so you're on for £3.15."

This is great! thanks

Echo Valley 2-6809

  • Part of no circle
Johnnie said "It was six guineas originally, and a repeat is half, so you're on for £3.15."

Hamp's given him 7½p too much there. Straight under the mattress.

Hopefully someone more knowledgeable than I can clear up one particular area of Python/M&W crossover.

Monty Python performed a custard pie sketch in lecture form, which apparently was the first collaboration between Palin and Jones back in their Oxford days. It can be seen in the Hollywood Bowl film.

Years later I saw Morecambe and Wise alongside Fulton Mackay perform an almost identical sketch* in one of their eighties ITV shows, which I see, now, as being credited to Sid Green/Derek Hills which would suggest that it was an earlier bit they had brought back.

Be interested to know who did it first and/or if one influenced the other.

*I believe, though perhaps the memory cheats.

Hamp's given him 7½p too much there. Straight under the mattress.

No room, Lester Piggot was in there.

Lfbarfe

  • CEO of Cunstric Industries PLC
    • LE Confidential
Hopefully someone more knowledgeable than I can clear up one particular area of Python/M&W crossover.

Monty Python performed a custard pie sketch in lecture form, which apparently was the first collaboration between Palin and Jones back in their Oxford days. It can be seen in the Hollywood Bowl film.

Years later I saw Morecambe and Wise alongside Fulton Mackay perform an almost identical sketch* in one of their eighties ITV shows, which I see, now, as being credited to Sid Green/Derek Hills which would suggest that it was an earlier bit they had brought back.

Be interested to know who did it first and/or if one influenced the other.

*I believe, though perhaps the memory cheats.

Christmas 1983. The last Christmas show. Fulton Mackay and Derek Jacobi. Memory absolutely fine. And yes, it's a reprise of a 1960s ATV sketch.

Lfbarfe

  • CEO of Cunstric Industries PLC
    • LE Confidential
Sorry, misread. The Mackay/Jacobi sketch is a retread of a 1960s ATV sketch, so it's possible that Palin and Jones were influenced by it. To connect everything up even further, there's a 1965 Ken Dodd special with Palin and Jones as extras. Why? They were writing Billy Cotton's Band Show at the time for Michael Hurll, who was also Dodd's producer.

Lfbarfe

  • CEO of Cunstric Industries PLC
    • LE Confidential
Hamp's given him 7½p too much there. Straight under the mattress.

A guinea is a pound and a shilling. 2½p is sixpence.

Echo Valley 2-6809

  • Part of no circle
A guinea is a pound and a shilling. 2½p is sixpence.
  Ah, I was wondering which one of you would spot that first. Well done, Barfe!

(Apologies.)

I kind of feel Eric was being tribal less about the respective comedy stylings of M&W and MP, and more an ingrained defensiveness about the two imagined audiences they have. Both skittered between high and low (M&W had Andre Previn ffs!) but it's a debs and plebs audience. Of course there was a lot of crossover, my parents watched and liked both.

I get what Eric is saying about the 'professional' vs student thing, I think growing up in clubland means you're in front of hostile audiences full of bastards, so everything becomes incredibly tight and a bit artificial. My dad, a singer in the kind of clubs that Morecambe, Dawson, Manning et. al. came through, has a similar disdain for any singer who plies their trade through reality shows, because they don't have that forged-in-fire history. It's all easy for these faff arse students. Slightly race-to-the-bottom attitude, but I also kind of get it.

Glebe

  • Do you like our owl threads?
Lfbarfe good sir, all this time I had no idea you were the great man's son! Goodness!

Glebe

  • Do you like our owl threads?
It's up there with people that declare the Beatles were rubbish.


Jockice

  • I really have red hair. And a **********.
Just reading Will Sergeant's autobiography. He reckons Morecambe and Wise were crap and much preferred Monty Python. So that's settled it. Spare us the nutter.

Tags: