Cannon & Ball: The Trumpet Routine
RAY: Whenever anyone asks us who we consider ourselves to be closest to as an act we will always answer Cannon & Ball. Some people have recently started saying we remind them of Lee & Herring (well they actually say ‘you are copying Lee & Herring,’ because that would seem to be the sort of fans Rich and Stew have to endure, they also regularly appear to accuse Rich of copying Stew so, let’s be honest, they are perhaps best ignored) but we would certainly say we are more in the vein of Cannon & Ball.
We interviewed Richard Herring recently for our podcast and he admitted he had been a big fan of Cannon & Ball too, so can we just agree that both Peacock & Gamble and Lee & Herring copied Cannon & Ball and leave it at that?
The trumpet routine really epitomises the relationship between Cannon & Ball and is always executed with such conviction and commitment that it’s pretty much impossible not to get swept away with it. All their most famous facets are in place; Tommy attempting to show off his talent whilst Bobby interrupts/helps, Tom losing his rag with Bob and blowing up, and Bobby at his petulant manchild best. I defy anyone watching it not to scream ‘Look at iiiiiiiiiiit’ for at least 24 hours after viewing (or in my case, 30 years).
Patton Oswalt: Werewolves & Lollipops
ED: After what Ray has just said, I am tempted to massively undermine him by listing a series of Lee & Herring sketches as our biggest influences ever. However, I am not really familiar with ‘Ricky & Stuart’s Fisty Fun’ or whatever it was called, being more of a fan of modern comedy, and preferring to avoid all those old black and white shows from ages ago.
This brings me nicely to Patton Oswalt’s Werewolves & Lollipops record, which I regard as being some sort of modern classic. I can’t count the number of times I have listened to it (I probably could, but I’m too busy) but I still manage to find new touches to enjoy on every playback.
His command of language and linguistic flourishes constantly amaze, and this album is a perfect example of what he does. It makes me weirdly satisfied to think that someone with his vocabulary range and mastery of English has chosen to focus his powers not on being a boring novelist or stupid poet, but on creating vivid and hilarious verbal tapestries of filth.
This album features great routine after great routine – but my particular favourites are his diatribe against the KFC’s Famous Bowls (Track 2: America Has Spoken) and a colourful description of a 63-year-old woman giving birth (Track 5: The Miracle Of Child Birth).
Lee Mack’s Bluecoat story on Graham Norton
RAY: Not showing off but I was stood about five foot away from this in real life when it happened so I can give you a bit of an insight into why this was even better than it appears here (and it is amazing here). This was the first time I had done warm up on Graham Norton (I only did about six shows because I wasn’t very good with that audience) and, as I tend to be when I do a show for the first time, was a bit nervy.
It was a relief when I saw that Lee was one of the guests as I do warm-up on Not Going Out and we always have fun there. However, the relief was short-lived when I saw that the other guests were Martin Clunes (who had a different affect on me as Ed will later explain) and John Cleese who is just John fucking Cleese. I went on and was largely ineffectual and then the show started.
From the off, rather unfairly, Lee was having to operate in the shadow of Cleese as the interviews got under way (through no fault of Cleese I hasten to add – indeed, Cleese had been insistent backstage that there was no sycophancy, and said: ‘Please – when we get out there, let’s not afford each other any fucking respect’), the audience were enamoured with superstar Cleese and any diversion from that was at best ‘tolerated’ by them.
Obviously the edit takes out any uncomfortableness but it had been a tough-ish gig for Lee, despite his best efforts. Then, with this story, Lee took the show by the throat and smashed it out of the park. It was electric - truly amazing and genuinely exhilarating as he had been the underdog for an hour at this point. Then, within the space of two mins he became the absolute star of the show - he had Cleese stamping his feet and crying with laughter, the audience howling and cheering and Martin Clunes doing faces he hadn’t done since…well, Ed will tell you about that now…
Martin Clunes’ Face at the 1993 British Comedy Awards
ED: It seems a little harsh to include someone’s actual face in comedy things we enjoy, but it is meant in the best possible way. This was a memorable British Comedy Awards, mostly thanks to Julian Clary and his potty mouth comment about ‘f***ing Norman Lamont.’ (Those asterisks make it look like he said “fucking”, don’t they? He didn’t – he said “fisting”. In fact, the censorship seems irrelevant now I’ve explained that.)
But it’s not the comment from Clary that we want to include here – that’s the sort of hack thing that would be featured in any old 50 Most Outrageous Award Ceremony Moments From The Past. No, what we want to draw attention to is Martin Clunes’ face in the aftermath. The joke destroys the room, and in the quick succession of reaction shots of the audience, Clunes’ face is an absolute picture.
To me, it represents a man utterly enjoying himself in the moment and having a brilliant night out. He’s got an expressive face at the best of times, but on this occasion it is contorted into a wonderful vision of disbelief and hysteria. Myself and Ray watch it quite a lot. Is that weird? I hope Martin doesn’t read this and think it’s weird. Sorry Martin, we’re just a bit obsessed with your face from a specific night 20 years ago.
Rik Mayall on Comic Relief, Shaftesbury Theatre 1987
RAY: Now, this is an interesting one, because I had seen Rik Mayall do stand-up live not long before this and I promise you it was the single best performance of any kind I have ever seen. It baffles me that Mayall isn’t held in higher regard as a stand-up comic as he was genuinely untouchable, but it’s perhaps because embarrassingly little of him doing stand-up was committed to film, there certainly wasn’t a video brought out (despite the fact that – I think – every other performer on the original live Comic Relief show this is taken from had at least one full-length show video release).
I imagine this was Mayall’s choice, perhaps he felt he would be ‘burning’ his act or that it wouldn’t transfer from live, both of which reasons are frustrating and annoying because he doesn’t do stand up any more and this clip shows that it transfers brilliantly. So I think the fact that there is so little available makes me treasure this little bit that is.
Again, as with Lee earlier, this was a moment in a show where the bar was raised and the audience blown away – unlike Lee, however, Mayall had that audience besotted with him from the second his name was announced by Ben Elton. The pause between his name and him attacking the stage feels forever but the anticipation is deadly. An act that is basically an idiot showing off, utterly unaware that his giddiness isn’t cool, it probably shouldn’t even work, but that song – idiotic, asinine, ludicrously performed but with such vigour, it’s brilliant – a proper wow moment.
Regardless of your opinion of Rik’s body of work, whether you think he is one of the most talented, iconic, charismatic fuckers to ever grace a stage or sitcom set, or whether you don’t think that and are wrong, you can’t deny that this performance explodes that show.
Human Remains: Episode 2, Slither In
ED: Human Remains is one of my favourite comedy series ever – and it always makes me feel a slight pang of sorrow that they never made more than six half-hour shows. Rob Brydon and Julia Davis played a different couple each episode, and as a team, perfectly complimented each other.
Brydon’s tendency to play the positive loser is balanced by Davis’s penchant for the darker side of humour, and what emerges from that combination is a genuinely excellent show. I was obsessed with this at university, and distinctly remember trying to show this particular episode to drunk friends in halls at 3am. I’m not sure they were listening. One of them was sick in a bin.
A lot of the show’s script came from just pointing a camera at the performers and capturing them improvise – which I think you can tell, as the dialogue has a certain quality that you simply can’t recreate from writing alone.
This episode is my favourite for the way it drip feeds you back story throughout, and although you learn some fairly worrying and horrific things about the couple, the sensitive way that they treat characters means that you fall in love with them all the same. Right, can I stop writing this now? There’s nothing worse than someone trying to force their taste on to you.