'The Muppet Christmas Carol is enough to melt my humbug heart...' | Potted Panto's stars pick their Perfect Playlist of festive comedy favourites © Josh McLure

'The Muppet Christmas Carol is enough to melt my humbug heart...'

Potted Panto's stars pick their Perfect Playlist of festive comedy favourites

Potted Panto – a family comedy show which covers seven classic pantomimes in 80 minutes – opens at the Wilton’s Music Hall in London next week. Here its stars Daniel Clarkson (DC) and Jefferson Turner (JT) pick their Perfect Playlist of Christmas comedy favourites…

The Muppet Christmas Carol

JT: This is by far and away my favourite Christmas film. I was a Muppet fan already, but working with Dan for so long has made me even more so, as he loves them easily as much.

Michael Caine’s straight performance is so, so, wonderful and the songs (Marley & Marley, especially) are enough to melt my humbug heart. We watch it every year and even went to a Singalonga- at The Prince Charles Cinema, where Dan ‘accidentally’ entered a kids’ Christmas jumper competition.

Morecambe and Wise Christmas special

DC: Christmas just isn’t Christmas without them. My dad was such a huge fan of them when he was growing up and this was then passed down to me and immediately, they became two of my comic heros.

In their heyday their Christmas specials scored one of the highest ever audiences in British television history with more than 20 million viewers – almost a half of the country tuning in on Christmas day to see them, just unheard of today!

They were true masters of their craft and I they still very much stand the test of time. There have been a few very kind reviews over the years that have compared Jeff and myself to these legends, and I couldn’t think of a greater honour!

Plus, I met my fiancée while directing her in the UK tour of An Evening with Eric and Ern, so I really do owe a lot to their legacy!

So, from their 1971 Christmas special, we all know it, we all love it and no matter how many times I see it I still laugh. Let’s one more time watch ‘All the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order!’

Jeremy Lion: 12 Days of Christmas

JT: I have loved this routine ever since I first saw it. I just watched it again and I was giggling away like an idiot. He is a glorious character and the writing appears so simple, which is what makes it such a triumph.

It isn’t easy acting drunk and it is even harder to make it this funny. It also helps that Dan and I have met a few Jeremy Lions in our almost 20 years of touring family-friendly theatre…

Saturday Night Live

DC: Next up I’m going to go across the pond, live from New York, it’s Saturday Night Live! SNL has brought us some of the greatest North American comic stars from Dan Ackroyd to Will Ferrell, Tina Fey to Kate McKinnon and countless others in between.

In the days before YouTube, I remember it being like the holy grail if your friend somehow had a bootlegged VHS of the show and you’d all gather round and watch in awe at this often rough round the edges crazy LIVE comedy show.

Their Christmas sketches are some of my favourites but one that always has me laughing is Bill Hader and Fred Armisen as the two doorman Renaldo and Alexi. This sketch only ever made it as far as the dress rehearsal and never got broadcast. The premise is very simple, two doorman share Christmas stories with the kids that come out the building, but Jeff and I have been there often, both the comics can’t hold it together and corpse throughout!

You can see why it never made it to air, but still the laughter is so infectious that it has you crying with them!

A Bit of Fry & Laurie Pilot (1987)

JT: As corny as it sounds, I have genuinely always loved double acts. This could have easily been The Two Ronnies, Vic & Bob or Morecambe & Wise. But Fry and Laurie have always had a special place in my heart – Hugh Laurie in Blackadder the Third is probably my favourite sitcom performance of all time.

This isn’t necessarily their best stuff, but it led to one of my favourite sketch shows of all time getting four series and was broadcast on Boxing Day, so I can definitely include it here. Hopefully.

Yippie Ki-Yay Father Christmas by Jonnie Common and Bec Hill

DC: Finally I’m gonna chose a song. Why? Because its Christmas and what’s Christmas with out a good Christmas song? Especially when it’s presented to you by the fabulous Bec Hill.

The song is Yippie Ki-Yay Father Christmas by Jonnie Common and as the title suggests it takes us through the greatest Christmas move of all time Die Hard (It’s a Christmas film fact, I will fight to the death on this one.)

The song in itself is wonderful but add Bec Hill’s uniquely brilliant flip charts and you have comedy Christmas gold! 
I’ve known Bec for many years since we were paired together on a radio show in Australia to promote our shows at the Adelaide Fringe, and I think I’ve been in total awe of what she does since.

If you are already a fan of hers then enjoy this Christmas offering, if you haven’t yet been bought in to her beautiful crazy world, then you are welcome and enjoy!

So here is Jonnie Common and Bec Hill with Yippie Ki-Yay Father Christmas – in my ongoing quest that this could one day be our Christmas number one!

• Potted Panto runs at Wilton’s Music Hall from Wednesday November 29 to Saturday December 30. More details here.

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Published: 22 Nov 2023

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