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Bob Monkhouse

Bob Monkhouse

Date Of Birth: 01/06/1928

Bob Monkhouse was one of Britain's most enduring performers, with a career spanning more than half a century.

His American-style approach, often derided as smarmy, won him much criticism, but his professionalism, hard work and photographic memory for gags gave him a longevity many would envy.

Heir to a custard empire, he decided he'd rather write comedy than take over the family business, and started off sending strip cartoons to every comic in Britain at the age of 12, while still a pupil at Dulwich College. By the age of 15 was making a regular income from it.

His started his broadcasting career on radio in 1949, and worked as a stand-up comic - but hit the big time as a gag writer with partner, Denis Goodwin.

They wrote jokes for the likes of Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis - and reportedly sold American comics' lines back to British acts.

In 1952, Monkhouse and Goodwin were given their own TV sketch comedy, Fast And Loose, which only served to show up Goodwin's failings as a performer, and the partnership soon collapsed. Goodwin ended up committing suicide in 1975.

Much of Monkhouse's later fame stemmed from game shows, hosting the likes of The Golden Shot, Celebrity Squares, Family Fortune including The $64,000 Question, Opportunity Knocks and more.

However, his autobiography Crying With Laughter and his televised stand-up show An Audience With revived his reputation as a comic, rather than just an entertainer, in the mid-1990s.

He was also awarded the OBE in 1993, and in 1995 he won a lifetime achievement award at the British Comedy Awards.

Twice married (to Elizabeth from 1949 to 1972, and Jacqueline from 1972 until his death)he outlived two of his three children: his estranged son Simon died of a heroin overdose in a Bangkok hotel in 2001 and Gary, a cerebral palsy sufferer, died in 1992. He also had a daughter, Abigail.

 

Reviews

Brainstopping: Haemorrhage

Brainstopping: Haemorrhage

Review

A policeman and his colleague, Rex, are on the trail of a man called Ty, but they are spotted and losing him. 'What happened?,' asks the copper. 'Ty ran, he saw us, Rex.'

Yes, Brianstopping have a fondness for puns, wonderfully convoluted and groanworthy, even though the sheer density of them is impressive.

Wordplay isn't the only thing these two men can do, though, and there's some wonderful sketches about childbirth and alien invasions. But mostly it's pretty pedestrian, even though they still get laughs from the 12 of us rattling round in the sizable Belly Dancer venue.

It's all fairly inoffensive, although during this performance a bunch of Scottish guys walked out when one sketch ended with the implication that the two characters were gay, muttering 'that's sick' as they left. The less bigoted will find much to enjoy here, and for those that have seen a lot of comedy at the Fringe, there's a lovely gag towards the end on improvisational comedy groups.

The big problem with this show is the size of the room, with the actors forced to make a lengthy run off-stage and back on after each sketch for costume changes. The guys attempt to cover the lulls with a pre-recorded 'DVD commentary' where they supposedly reveal 'behind the scenes' secrets about the creation of the sketch. But these parodies just aren't funny after the first time, so creating major lulls in the show's energy. It's made even worse by the fact that the 'commentary' is hard to make out clearly.

Haemorrage is a moderately well-written and performed show that still feels disjointed and sloppy - not to mention completely out of place in its venue.

Dean Love

 

Steve Bennett

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Brainstopping: Haemorrhage