Comedy isn’t just entertainment for some but a living. For me it’s a huge part of my life and always will be.
From a young age I loved how one person could command a crowd with either words, facial expressions or actions, making them laugh and cry with joy.
They then watch people leave in a much happier and more positive mood.
I remember weekends at my Nans … she would walk in when I went visiting with some VHS tapes and say ‘here you go enjoy’.
I’d sit and laugh like anyone else would, but the thing that made me different from other people was I would sit and study the way they used the space available, how they’d look one way but use their hands and body to visually tell the joke in another direction.
When I was doing this, I was probably around 6 or 7 years of age. The three people I learnt a lot from are Freddie Star, Tommy Cooper and the late, great Sir Ken Dodd. I’d imitate them in my room, at family events and out with friends.
I remember going to my other Gran’s house and she said watch these videos.
All I can remember is thinking these Americans are amazing. I’d found slapstick comedy at its finest. Abbott and Costello, the 3 Stooges, Marx Brothers and Laurel and Hardy to name but a few.
It was that influential I’m now in my 30s and I have a huge comedy and movie collection dating back as early as the 1910s. I have black and white and silent films. Even though not one word is spoken, I laugh. That for me is what makes these special.
As I got older I started to watch other styles of humour and comedy. I used to sneak downstairs late at night to watch the Gary Shandling Show and Frasier.
I recently found out a friend’s Dad(Steve) used to do the same in America and watch the Benny Hill show and Monty Python.
I found a love for American humour which was very different from the UK. The UK was more tongue in cheek and full of innuendos. Just look at the Carry on films….
I still love watching household names from classic UK comedy like: Charlie Williams, Frank Carson, Bernard Manning, Mick Miller, Ken Goodwin, Duggie Brown, George Roper, the list goes on.
Also featured on the Comedians with them was Shep’s Banjo Boys.
I also loved watching the Wheeltappers and Shunters from the World famous Embassy club in Manchester. It was owned and managed by another great Bernard Manning.
Bernard Manning, around the time of the Comedians, went to America. He sold out casinos, clubs and even the MGM Grand on a daily basis in Las Vegas.
He was offered more than he could ever imagine to work there full time. But instead decided to come home to his Mum and the club he built, earning each week what he’d have probably made in 30 seconds in America.
But he was a proud Northern lad from Manchester and that is where his heart always remained.
I know and understand comedy has changed a lot over the years. But for me, give me the classics any day. No canned laughter, just genuine reactions.
It stills gives me a good feeling watching the Comedians and look at the crowd to see people knitting, eating and crying uncontrollably as their genuine reaction is caught forever on film and in our hearts.
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