'Louis CK made me love stand-up again'

Kerry Godliman on her comedy favourites

The Roadrunner

I used to watch Rolf Harris’ Cartoon Tme with my dad as a kid. My dad would just crack up at the Roadrunner. When you’re little it’s wondrous to see your parents laugh.

Wile E. Coyote might be one of my favourite comedy characters. His looks to camera just as he’s about to fall or explode or hit into something are wonderful moments in underdog suffering. The lovely thing watching it now is the timing. It’s like it’s been tuned by a humour metronome.

Some Like it Hot

I know this has topped every Top 100 best film poll, but I liked it before all that. I liked it as a child, a very boring child that could quote every line. I thought Billy Wilder’s script just fizzed, you can choose any chunk at random and it’s hilarious. Few comic performances can top Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in this master piece.

I haven’t watched the whole film in over a decade, but still know tons of lines. I thought there was nothing more wonderful that being in a band and going on the road. The banter, the rootless morals and men dressed as women. What’s not to find funny? I even took up the tenor sax in devotion to this film.

Billy Connolly

He’s the only comic that makes stand-up look like simply chatting on stage. No ‘jokes’ or ‘routine’ in the traditional sense. A true raconteur. I saw him with my parents at Hammersmith Apollo (it was the Odeon then) when I was about 12 or 13 and I remember them and their mates just crying with laughter throughout the whole show. They were literally clutching their ribs in pain, tears streaming down their face.

Afterwards my Dad said he’d wished Connolly had put in some lulls, just to give them a break. I’ve got no idea if he writes any of his routines down but he sure makes it look like a bloke making it up as he goes along.


Actors being up them selves amuses me. This clip brilliantly sums up the self importance of actors. I do love a good row, not having one, but watching one. From mild irritation to red-mist fury, there so much to enjoy. Also it’s a film where a man is dressed as women.

Tootsie is a great film about acting, about having creative aspirations and selling out. Dustin Hoffman getting irate about how well he plays a tomato in an advert is a beautiful masterclass in comedic despair. I’ve done a few adverts and when your acting with a puppet polar bear that’s banging on about prawns, or a baby in a suit ranting about toilet paper, it’s best to keep your sense of humour close and your ego in check.

Victoria Wood As Seen On TV

This Victoria Wood TV show on in the mi-Eighties was watched religiously in my house. My mum, being from the north of England, had to watch by law. I think seeing someone do stand-up, character monologues, spoof documentaries, sketches, and mock adverts was inspiring.

She’s got such incredible skill with language, character observation and jokes. All done with such warmth, and a wonderful common touch. She nails the small-minded, gossipy, judgemental English with a tenderness and love of her subjects.

Woody Allen

Where do you start? How do you pick one bit? This clip, from Hannah And Her Sisters will do. It’s a good example of Woody Allen doing his existential despair shtick. Taking all the big problems of the human condition and turning them into comedy magic.

Woody Allen films always make me feel better. He legitimises romance and artistic ambition and daftness. His work ethic is a true inspiration. Never taking the shallow aspects of ‘showbusiness’ or ‘celebrity’ remotely seriously and staying true to your passion. I can be quite evangelical about Woody Allen.

Louis CK

I was moaning a while back to fellow comic Zoe Lyons about my set getting full of material about my kids and being a parent. I thought I was getting too domestic. I’d wanted to be an edgy, subversive beat comic but feared I’d become like a twee audio version of Mumsnet. Zoe said “go on YouTube and watch Louis CK”.

He has that great American straight talking way, where something maybe an ugly truth but he’ll say it. He’ll say all the nasty little realities of being a parent and there’s nothing twee about it. He has no vanity, he takes risks and he’s relaxed.

Louis CK made me love stand-up again. He seems to be fearless and can talk about so many subjects with such a bold world view. He rocks.

The League Of Gentlemen

I saw them in Edinburgh in 1997 when they won the Perrier. I’d never seen sketch comedy live before and the brilliant chaotic energy was thrilling to watch. It felt wild and even though it was scripted ,it seemed it could anywhere. We Are Klang had it at their Edinburgh shows too. Like a comedy happening.

When the League of Gentlemen went on to get a radio show, I remember listening to a tape of the whole series on car journey across Wales with a mate. It was so atmospheric and dark. Doing a sketch/character show and setting in the same village with cross-references, and catchphrases and more men dressed as women.

I love the bullying it. I can’t think of any other comedy bullying as dark as the Gents.

  • Kerry Godliman stars alongside Ricky Gervais in Derek, which starts its first full series on Channel 4 later this month.

Published: 15 Jan 2013

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