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May 27, 2024, 05:49:07 PM

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Just flagging this up as I missed it myself, and am looking forward to reading it: link

Today's letters page is full of rather nice anecdotes about Lehrer, from people who grew up listening to him and met him at shows etc, I really enjoyed reading this: link

From an article in the Times when Rik died. What a terrible tribute:

QuoteAllen's maverick, contrarian impulses are impressive. They reveal themselves as we talk. My phone rings. I'm told that Rik Mayall has died suddenly. I tentatively break the news to Allen about his peer. His reaction is an instant critique of Mayall's work with long-time comedy partner Ade Edmondson. "I hated their work," he says. "I hated it." But you wrote some of it, I say. The Yob, The Bull*****ers . . . these were early "alternative comedy" classics.

Allen sighs and assembles a roll-up, like a teacher gearing up to make one final effort at explaining the difference between left and right to a notorious dunce. "Obviously condolences to his family," he says, "but there's personal tragedy and then there's the work. I enjoyed working with Peter Richardson (co-writer on The Comic Strip Presents . . .), but to me it was childish. And I felt Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson went on to produce just s***. Bland rubbish that the BBC laps up, the sort of b******s that makes you a national treasure. I think Rik was actually talented but, Edmondson, no. Absolutely talentless."
He waves away a bee. "I can't give you a eulogy," he says. "I'm sorry but this country has got to do something about applauding mediocrity."

One of the many treasures uploaded this week by Bill Matthews on his amazing YT channel is Michael Palin's Comic Roots from 1983 including him listening to The Goon Show with Spike Milligan in a recreation of his childhood front room and then being a joyous fanboy.

There's so much sound left over from NOBA:
And that's not even all.

But wouldn't you know it, there's three, four sketches from S1E5 that exist as mute film: Something about a commercial/job offer, catching the bus, canvassing Dracula... Dudley in the shower...
But no audio tracks to be found!

Or am I wrong?

Not sure I've ever seen this before, looks cracking:

He also has this fascinating video:

QuoteI'm not quite sure how I got hold of this.... A very hard to find recording of the 1977 Cambridge Footlights Revue called Tag!, which was televised on BBC2. It stars a beardless Rory McGrath, future Cold Feet star Robert Bathurst, future Artisitc Director of the National Theatre (now Sir) Nicholas Hytner, future Hat-Trick MD Jimmy Mulville, future Hollywood producer Martin Bergman, plus Paul Hudson and Carrie Simcocks (not sure what happened to them). The show was directed by Griff Rhys Jones, who was one of the writers, along with Bergman, McGrath, Mulville and Hytner. The music was by my future boss at Talkback, Peter Fincham.

This might be an odd thread for me to start, as I generally dislike late-night talk shows and never watched any of Conan's, just a bunch of his pre-recorded skits, and occasional interviews or segments.

Of those, the clear standouts were his videos with show producer Jordan Schlansky; a pretentious, deadpan individual who obviously plays a heightened version of his real persona on camera, ala Karl Pilkington.

This in turn led me to Conan's current podcast, Conan O'Brien Needs A Friend, which really highlights Conan's ability to improvise extended bits that sound fully formed.

To be honest, I've always had a bit of a fascination with Conan, purely because of the reverential way Simpson's writers/producers talked about his time on that show. He wrote "New Kid on the Block", "Marge vs. the Monorail", and "Homer Goes to College". And apparently, he'd machine gun jokes at the writer's room, while acting out bits and climbing over furniture.

You can see that same energy, that same need to perform, in his podcast too. The man has a compulsive need to make people laugh.

Anyway, I thought with The Simpsons, the talk show and the podcast, there might be a thread in Conan. Any thoughts?


He's strong to the finish cos he eats his spinach.

So, CaB. What's up with Popeye? Let's talk about the comedy of Popeye.

He's a sailor man. You know... for kids.

As a kid, I was fond enough of Popeye but I never really understood it. Thinking about it now, I still don't. Popeye was just... on. My dad seemed to like it.

Apparently, he started out as a newspaper comic strip. Which makes sense. He doesn't look like anything designed for kids really.

But he was on TV a lot and it seemed (to me) to be for kids. I could tell he was extremely popular before I was born. Watching Popeye cartoons felt like joining in with older people, or a lesson in history or something.

Is Popeye funny? I am not against Popeye. He was far from my favourite cartoon character but I didn't dislike him. Popeye was alright. He eats his spinach.

And when he eats spinach he becomes supernaturally strong, usually in order to "saves" his love interest, Olive Oyl, from the would-be kidnapper-rapist Bluto.

Why is Bluto in a humorous kids' show? He's horrible.

Why is Olive Oyl like that? All gawky and silly? Is the joke that she's not the typical damsel in distress or something?

What is Wimpy? "I'll gladly pay your Tuesday for a hamburger today." Okay, no sweat Wimpy, you got it. Wait, is this a joke in some way?

My dad really liked Wimpy, as seemingly did most of his generation and his parents' generation. They fondly nicknamed a plane after him in the war. He seems charming but is he a comedy character? What's funny about borrowing money for food? What's the deal with Wimpy?

Is it funny that the baby is called Sweet Pea? Is he Popeye's baby or what? From a previous relationship? Is Popeye a shagger? Does spinach put wowser in your trouser?

I remember "the Goon" from an '80s spinoff cartoon called Olive and Goon, apparently a segment from something called The All New Popeye Hour though I don't remember anything else about that. Olive and Goon are in the military for some reason and aren't very good at it. It had M*A*S*H vibes. Goon is also called Alice sometimes and speaks in a nonsense "what-nip-nip-what" language that we can't understand but Olive can, like Han and Chewie. Actually, I liked Goon. Goon was entertaining to me as a kid.

Please share your Popeye memories, understandings, analyses and theories.



Read More

New on Apple TV at the end of the month, I am pumped for this:

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