'The perfect parody and the perfect celebration of showbiz'

Paul Tonkinson's comedy favourites

Steve Martin: Fun Balloon Animals

Wild and Crazy Guy shot in LA in 1979 is one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Wearing a super cool all-white suit with black tie and in front of a wildly appreciative audience Martin gives us both the perfect parody and the perfect celebration of showbiz.

He throws in everything, banjo playing, bad juggling, jokes about the French, Happy Feet. The joy is unconfined, the execution of performance incredible.

I don’t even know if this is available on DVD and YouTube has only a couple of bits... this is the last few minutes of the show and gives you the general idea. He was the worlds first stadium comic. He was the world's funniest white man.

Patrice O’Neal: Elephant In The Room part 1.

I first saw Patrice at the Comedy Store in London and loved his bit about becoming more and more camp while looking for food in the cupboard, I then saw him at Montreal years later, he was truly marvellous. He would just plant himself in the middle of the stage and launch himself into extremely acute angles of thought with a big old smile on his face.

He's very good at looking like he just thought of stuff and would charm and poke the crowd into hysterics with an extremely natural and hugely expressive style.

He was just breaking through properly when he died, bless him. Elephant In The Room was recorded in front of a partisan crowd at the New York Comedy Festival in 2011. It's all chunked down for YouTube, watch it all but watch the very start where he opens the room right up, off the bat with a great bit about the value of a white woman's life.

I’ve just seen it again its fantastic.

Julie Walters: Two Soups

I love the comedy of irritation and find other irritating people hilarious. Some of the funniest times in life happen for me when you are deliberately annoying people. This sketch has that flavour to it. The ridiculously slow service, the torturous walk, the high-pitched voice of the waitress. I cannot watch this without weeping with laughter. Gorgeous.

Foster Brooks roasts Sammy Davis Junior

Celebrity roasts have never really caught on over here, it was tried but came over a bit strained. Nobody really knew each other or crucially, liked each other.

This roast is part of a rich seam of roasts available to watch on the old YouTube. Its basically a bunch of fatcat entertainment kings extremely comfortable with their status and each other. They’re all drunk or on various opiates and there is an anything goes mentality unusual in todays climate.

Foster Brooks plays the drunk perfectly. I especially like the few steps from his seat to the lectern where you see him bring the goofy drunk walk in.

Blazing Saddles: Pledge to Hedley Lamarr

Harvey Korman was a very talented supporting actor for Mel Brooks in the Seventies. This is a short moment, there are many other hilarious bits from him, especially in High Anxiety (1978).

This is from the classic Blazing Saddles and contains the immortal exhortation which I often relate to comics before they take the stage: Go do that voodoo that you do!

Dinner for Five: Vince Vaughn episode

I love Vince Vaughn and was going to point towards Swingers or Made, where he’s thin and sharp and funny as hell. This is an American TV show that shows how naturally funny he is. He's light and New Agey and cutting and slick. Love it. Love him. Want to be him for a day.

Laurel and Hardy: Way Out West Dance

There's nothing to say about this except to say that I completed my Perfect Playlist, sent it off then woke up in a cold sweat because I'd neglected to include this lovely bit of comic nonsense that has to be one of my favourite moments in cinema.

Zero De Conduite

Classic French comedy-drama made in 1933 by Jean Vigo. Zero de Conduite (Zero For Conduct) is a lyrical, funny, tender movie about teenage angst set in a French boarding school. It's fabulous, it's only 41 minutes long, and the whole thing's on YouTube. One of many highlights is the pillow fight sequence.

  • Paul Tonkinson: Fancy Man is on tour until March next year. Dates.

Published: 23 Oct 2012

Live comedy picks

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