''I find it impossible to watch and not smile broadly'

Pete Firman's comedy favourties

Pete Firman

<Morecambe and Wise

I adore this clip of Eric and Ernie with Tom Jones, I find it impossible to watch and not smile broadly. I have great memories of watching the M&W shows at home with my family as a kid and laughing so hard. I'm really impressed with the way they move for a couple of older fellas too! They are really going for it with the dance moves. ‘Keep going you fool!’ Tom Jones seems to be enjoying it all as much as us watching, so much so that he corpses during the song. Its just a brilliant Morecambe and Wise sketch.

Carl Ballantine

Carl Ballantine was the original burlesque magic act, the first performer to really pastiche a magician. He was a pioneer of comedy magic. Magicians had mixed gentle humour with their tricks for many years, but Ballantine defined magic and comedy as a great combination. His vaudeville style with magical 'cock ups' work particularly well.

His work pre-dates much of Tommy Cooper's, who is widely considered to be the UK's finest exponent of that kind of thing. I think its fair to say that Cooper was heavily influenced by Ballantine and greatly admired his work. I just love the pace and the asides.


I came to the Seinfeld TV series pretty late, but became quite obsessed with it, devouring all the seasons within a couple of weeks. I just really admire the craftsmanship of the story development and the writing. Its made to look easy, after all, its the show about nothing.

Jerry also picked the perfect actors to surround him. I've heard interviews where people explained it would have been traditional for the show's star to hire less talented actors to make themselves look good in their own TV vehicle. Seinfeld did the reverse and hired three of the finest comic actors, which in turn lifts his game and ultimately made the show as successful as it was. I particularly love this brief scene with Kramer. Giddy up!

Steve Martin as The Great Flydini

I've always been a huge Steve Martin fan. I adore some of his films and I love his early stand-up albums. I enjoyed his surreal style and I liked the way that he incorporated music, juggling and magic into his early shows. He started out as conjuror, as well as being a big fan of magic and the Flydini act is a nod back to those early years.

The premise is simple, a magician who produces things from his unbuttoned trouser fly. It starts off with the traditional silk scarves and then moves into more surreal territory with the phone and Pavarotti making an appearance. I love the way he tips the famous tenor at the end with a coin, its a lovely routine.

Larry David and Leon

One of the finest comedy pairings in modern sitcom. They seem like the ultimate odd couple but they share a point of view and an odd set of social skills. I think J.B. Smoove is great in Curb Your Enthusiasm and I relish his little moments of banter with Larry. In this clip he offers some friendly advice to Larry on how to deal with someone that calls you a 'faggot'. It makes me laugh out loud.

Broadway Danny Rose

This is one of my favourite Woody Allen films. I love it because of the affectionate way it depicts the relationship between acts and their representation. There are some lovely set pieces in the movie. The gunfight in the warehouse containing helium for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is hilarious. This scene in which Allen as Danny Rose is begging a booker to take his acts is just so funny. The acts he pitches are just fantastic. My favourite is Eddie Clark's Penguin.

Published: 10 Aug 2012

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