“I Took a What in Your Tuba..” Robin Williams – A Tribute

I’m not usually one to get emotional over the loss of a celebrity. Having never met them my reaction is usually a “Oh no thats such a shame” today was different.
Today I am genuinely saddened like a part of my early teenage years has died. Robin Williams Live at the Met remains an often quoted reference from that time between my friend and I. The CD of the recording itself a story, brought, lost, found, lent out, lost, dodgy MP3 copy made, CD repurchased.

Everything about that performance makes me laugh now as it did for the first few times I listened amongst friends. It brings me a comfort that even the most masterful performances of Hicks and Pryor can’t touch. It was educational, made me research to understand the sections on American politics in the mid 80’s. Above all this performance oozed energy and showmanship like I’d never heard before.

Not being a particular film buff I have not seen too many of his screen performances. (I will rectify this in the coming months) But again those I have, have memories attached to them. I saw Mrs Doubtfire at the cinema after a sleepless sleepover night.My friend dozed off during the trailers at the beginning with a big tub of popcorn balanced in his lap. When the movie began he woke with a start showering the two rows in front of us with popcorn. Williams delivered a touching comic performance, I can’t imagine any other actor delivering given the somewhat creepy “man dresses as woman to gain access to home” story.

Good Morning Vietnam, again an education. Being a teenage Brit knowledge of the Vietnam conflict was at the point of first watching this was very limited. The humour and warmth of Williams drew me in and his ability to switch from mapcap high energy comedy to genuine emotion is something that other most other actors can only dream of. This film was the very first DVD I purchased.

The last performance I caught was his guest appearance on Louie. Where he appeared as himself and joined Louie at a funeral where they were the only two mourners. The two characters decided to search to find people who loved the deceased. No such search will be required for Robin Williams who will be so sadly missed. Rest in Peace.

Robin Williams Canada.jpg
Robin Williams Canada“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Dave Allen

BBC 2. Home of Top Gear and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Showed something awesome tonight, very good. If you missed it or have not heard of it’s subject matter. Stop reading this, go seek it out now. BBC 2 showed, Dave Allen: God’s Own Comedian.

Dave Allen is without a doubt my favourite comedian, yes I will talk of Hicks (who even has the honour of adorning this page) I will talk of the genius of Pryor. But Dave Allen, the first TV comic to make a young Sudo laugh. In 1990 I was 10, my Mum (she of Ed McBain influence) would tell me about Dave Allen. I was allowed to sit up late, probably about 10:30pm and watch. The Classic theme tune would start and a grey haired man, aged to a 10 yr old, would walk past a backed bar stool to the microphone. He would then begin to talk in a captivating irish tone.

I always wondered why he never sat on the stool. Only later thanks to the wonders of VHS would I find out that Dave used the stool on his earlier shows. I remember my whole family laughing at the stories this one man on his own on stage would tell. Exposing the absurdities of life long before the likes of Michael McIntyre, doing it in such a subtle nature that is nowhere in comedy these days. The pauses, the timing. The anger, the vitriol.

The show the BBC showed tonight was great because I have made every attempt to learn about the work of Dave before I was even a twinkle in my Dad’s eye. Dave hated repeats, so nothing is ever shown. This documentary showed footage of his early break in Australia, which I had never seen. Also featured was Dave’s documentary making which had past me by.

What however prompted me to write this blog piece was this there is a very small segment of this around 52 mins where Dave is being interviewed by Clive James where he says that language (swearing) is emphasis. I have always used this to explain when challenged on my own filthy fucking language, not sure where I got it from. It surprised me, how much of the wisdom of Dave Allen I picked up.

Allen like Hicks, I feel is needed in todays world. In the 8 years since he died the world, religion, politics and every aspect of life needs someone to poke away at it more than ever. Make the common helpless man feel sane for at least half an hour a week.

Thanks for reading and…. may your god go with you.

(BDYBIS) Be De Ya Day

And I nearly didn’t remember on the 21st night of September. I was going to write something fantastic because it is the day mentioned in the song that kinda inspired this crazy blog fest. However I don’t feel like writing, I feel like death warmed up right now. (Well not quite that bad.) I wonder where that phrase came from, I envisage some necrophiliac microwaving a cadaver in the same way a teenage boy can heat a melon.

As a result of me feeling lousy, this post is off the cuff and not at all planned out, so if you have read this far bravo. iOS 6 mullered my iTunes match, so I had to take my iPod Classic to work today (1st world problems) I had a bit of a Classic love in. The iPod Classic was once the musos Pod of choice storage in abundance. Now it’s the Pod Apple would like people to not want. It hasn’t been refreshed or bumped in many product cycle, yet it’s there dependable, when iTunes Match just won’t cut the mustard. Mine has been dropped, stood on and in a steamy bathroom, yet it keeps me rockin in the free world. iTunes Match is great when it works, but it has forced me to do a factory reset. After much geeky pulling of hair out all looks good.

Sorry this is a bit like a fucking diary entry. Never wanted to do that.. “got up… took a shit” I mean who the fuck cares, who cares about my opinions, but at least those have some artistry to them. Pretentious much!

Apologies for crapness of this post. Long week. As it’s Ba De Yah Day let me leave you with this video. I hope my normal standards of quality (along with Apple’s) will return soon.

(BDYBIS) I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue

Day 12 of the Ba De Ya Blogging in September challenge set by me, for no reason other than to see if I could, and I’m a hit whore! What will I write about today?

I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue…

Just happens to be my favourite radio comedy! The Antidote to Panel Games. More about the wonders of “Clue” in a bit. But I’d like to talk about radio comedy in general. It’s something my own teenage prejudice made me miss out on. Radio comedy when I was growing up was broadcast as on BBC Radio Four, the home of hard hitting political interviews (The Today Programme) and farm based radio soap opera (The Archers) it was something my Mum listened to. So whilst I absorbed all the TV comedy the 90’s had to offer (the latter series of Cheers, Fraiser, Fist of Fun, The Fast Show, Todays the Day.) Radio comedy passed me by.

I was a fool. Little did I know that lots of the things I was laughing at on the TV began life as radio shows, or at least the performers cut their teeth on radio. Then there are the classics such as “Just a Minute” which is still going strong now in it’s 45th year. The classic line up of Kenneth Williams, Clement Freud, Derek Nimmo and Peter Jones chaired by the sometimes grating Nicholas Parsons is a joy to behold. (Why Parsons sometimes grates on me is because he appears to be patronising and condescending to “new players of the game” I don’t however think this is intentional, I just think he’s trying to be nice. I have such a cynical ear.) There is a 24/7 stream of all things Just a Minute here if you’d like to check it out yourself. Works fine on iOS devices too.

I wish. There was a 24/7 stream of my previously mentioned personal favourite. “I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue” whilst Just a Minute (particularly the dry delivery of Clement Freud) raises a smile or even a chuckle from time to time. Clue just cracks me up. If anyone knows of such a stream please let me know!

Where Just a Minute is a structured parlour game Clue well, it tears up the rule book, in fact I don’t think they be bothered to write one. The show was largely the brain child of Graeme Garden, probably most famous for his TV work in The Goodies. Joined by fellow Goodie Tim Brooke-Taylor, Willie Rushden, Barry Cryer (a comedy legend who never seems to age) and the epitome of dry wit and comic timing Chairman Humphrey Lyttelton.

Regular games in Clue are Mornington Crescent a tube system navigation game. (Funnier than it sounds once you “get it”) One Song to the Tune of Another (exactly what it says) and Sound Charades. The latter of which always makes a comparison with the TV show “Give Us a Clue” and always highlights the activities of one of that shows stars Lionel Blair.

My written word is not doing it justice. I haven’t even mentioned Samantha yet.

Luckily I left my Radio Four prejudice behind and I regularly listen to the The Now Show, Just A Minute, The News Quiz and my beloved Clue (now hosted by Jack Dee following Humph’s death) My life is just that little bit richer for it.

More radio comedy streams (even some from across the pond) can be found here. Enjoy.