'They invented a new language of comedy' | John-Luke Roberts chooses his Perfect Playlist

'They invented a new language of comedy'

John-Luke Roberts chooses his Perfect Playlist

A few years ago I bought the complete Laurel and Hardy box set of DVDs. I'd watch some shorts alone and they were hilarious, but whenever I'd invite friends over to watch them we'd just end up staring in silence at two men of different builds doing simple jobs badly. The unspoken criticism and pity of my tastes would be deafening. So now I can experience that on a slightly bigger scale. In a way, this fills the void left by the lack of criticism I get from my dad now he's dead.

Chris Morris

Everything Chris Morris and Armando Iannucci and The Day Today gang turned out in the early Nineties still feels so new - like they invented a new language of comedy that everyone's still using. There's never been a commercial release of Morris's Radio 1 Music Shows, but if you can get hold of them (you can) then do. They are relentlessly entertaining (though ethically unsound) - there's not a second without a joke, an extraordinary prank call or some late 20th century hip hop. Start with episode 4 where Morris and Peter Baynham get a tortoise to sign in the post, and go from there. This clip is about someone being dead, like my dad is.

Mr Show - The Audition Sketch

Probably my favourite sketch - one simple idea, escalated in just the right way, all held together by strong, stupid logic, and performed naturally and lightly. I would say 'this is the best sketch ever' but then you'll watch it wanting to disagree. So I won't say that. But I'm thinking it.

Victoria Wood As Seen On TV - Two Soups

Probably my favourite sketch - one simple idea, escalated in just the right way, all held together by strong, stupid logic, and performed naturally and lightly. I would say 'this is the best sketch ever' but then you'll watch it wanting to disagree. So I won't say that. But I'm thinking it. And thinking of my father (who died).

Spymonkey

When I was nine my mother took me to the RSC's production of the mystery plays, which was full of nudity because actors are like that. As we left, my mother said to me: 'You see? People are ugly when they're naked.' This created a deep-seated psychic trauma which didn't heal properly until I saw this scene from Cooped. I estimate it's eight times as funny live.

They're performing The Complete Deaths of William Shakespeare this year, which I'm very excited about. It's a shame it's my mum in that anecdote, because another direct reference to my dad being dead would be good.

The League Against Tedium

When I was fifteen I went to the fringe and saw a monkey drive a van with a ship on in into a tent on the Meadows while Simon Munnery stood on the ship wearing an exclamation mark as a hat and a glove made of dildos. It was terrifying.

That state of terror created the perfect atmosphere for his beautiful, delicate one-liners.

Thom Tuck and I persuaded Simon to bring back the League at the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society in exchange for a new hat. Bob Slayer then put the League on at his Grotto later that year, and put in his press release that it was the first time Simon had performed as the League in ten years. Screw you, Bob. Screw you, and can we do ACMS at the Grotto again this Christmas please? Thank you.

I may have imagined the dildo glove, and I'm too embarrassed to verify. One could say Simon Munnery has been like a replacement father to me, but it's not true. If anything, I'm a bit shy to talk to him in green rooms. Though I didn't talk to my father much either.

John-Luke Roberts is performing Stdad-Up, a show about his dead dad, from April 4 to 9 at the Soho Theatre. Book.

Published: 30 Mar 2016

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