Carry On films... they're just not funny

By Mark Geary

I put to you the most controversial statement in comedy: You do not actually like Carry On movies. Sorry folks, but there it is.

And yes I mean you, the guy with the boxed set, and you, the post-feminist gal with the Barbara Windsor poster on the wall. And especially you, the one with the published list of 10 Best Carry Ons on Amazon None of you actually like the films.

The reason I know this is because I am all of the above and after deciding to recently have an all-day Carry Marath-On (God, I’m so witty) I came to the sad, inevitable conclusion that I don’t actually want to watch them any more.

After much soul-searching and introspection I’ve come to realize that although we’ll still pick up a ‘…Camping’ DVD eagerly for 50p at the charity shop or even drop 15 quid on an original lobby card on eBay, we’re really only doing it because it’s the warm feeling we get for what it was like when we used to like the films. We’re in love with the idea of regressing back to the person we used to be when we devoured them every Saturday summer night in 1978 or on a bank holiday afternoon in 1985.

Back then life was simple and the lecherous braying of Sir Sidney and scandalous sauciness of Babs and the rest of the gals was exactly the pre-pubescent guidance we needed to Nudge us from early teens towards adulthood, or if were already there, exactly the sort of ludicrous sexual shenanigans we were longing to get involved in. We were young and chomping at the bit, so to speak, and now in the absence of an actual time machine we’re grasping at any other device that can take us back to that joyous feeling.

I am a total anorak when it comes to British comedy and, aside from trying to stay on the cutting edge with the new stuff, I will still also gleefully pull out an old Les Dawson VHS tape for a quick watch on a Sunday afternoon or watch Shaun of The Dead followed by The Likely Lads movie and laugh equally at each. So I know it’s not an aversion to nostalgia or a change in taste that led me to stare at the screen in unblinking disappointment on my recent compulsive dive into the world of Bresslaw and Williams.

The sad fact is that Carry On is woefully dated; paper thin in terms of gags and it’s hard to see why we ever really liked it other than the fact that we also liked the Bay City Rollers and flared trousers at around that time. The constant and never ending stream of producers, directors and comedians touting a Carry On revival and convenient forgetfulness we exhibit for ‘…Columbus’ is the ultimate testament to the fact that our love is truly blind and we can never seem to see these facts staring us in the face.

I think given time I will forget these shortcomings and the gang will once again find their way back into my heart as one of my fondest comedy memories but in the meantime I’ll take the DVDs back down to the car boot, where they will inevitably sell quickly, so that there is no danger of them spoiling their own legacy by having me actually watching them!

Published: 22 May 2009

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