I did impeticos thy gratillity; for Malvolio's nose
is no whipstock: my lady has a white hand, and the
Myrmidons are no bottle-ale houses.
Excellent! why, this is the best fooling, when all
is done. Now, a song.
Christmas Cracker Question: What must auctioneers know?
(scroll down if desperate to find out...)
Forays into Spike Milligan country are dangerous and should only be undertaken using proper breathing equipment. The air is rare in those wild crags. Modern liberal attitudes are likely to perish in the freezing cold that immediately seizes them as soon as they enter the zone.
But Miligan's zone is not to be confused with that of people like Chubby Brown or others not likely to appear on television screens. The difference is simply that Milligan is a natural absurdist: in the world he inhabits everything is off-kilter, manic and fierce: the less likely something in reality the more likely it is to be the case with him. He was, famously, a depressive. He saved himself by ransacking the great trunk of the forbidden and throwing whatever he found there all over the place. He had no real discipline and was likely to explode at any moment. In fact he hardly knew the difference between a good joke and a bad one. It was the fury with which he threw himself into both that won him his uneasy, edge-of-hysterical laughs. In this instance it includes a, now politically-sensitive, dwarf. John Bluthal, a regular side-kick, is the other main actor.
Milligan plundered race and sex. He loved those burlesque women with vast breasts. Were they sex-objects? Of course they were, but then everything was an object to him. His audiences never felt comfortable, not even then : today's audiences would be in acute discomfort all the time. I went with the family to see him in his one-man-show, The Bed Sitting Room, which was as much improvisation as script. It was the mid-'60s. Things were generally exploding anyway.
I now think of Spike as more spirit than man. An imp, a boggart, a demon, a spectre, a poltergeist, a hobbledehoy. And yet a human being, who is all those things at once.
I find almost all contemporary radio and TV comedy unbearable: unbearably smug, horribly uninventive. Their very crudeness is safe. We know for certain no one will be offended by it. I wait for the cosy references, the proper attitudes and the whacking down of the same old improper attitudes, time after time after time, and think comedy lost something very important when the universities took it over. It has become far too knowing; far too knowing-better. There are great exceptions: Merton, Izzard, Noble, and one or two others. They don't need sit coms, they don't even need panel games (the equivalent of the class clown being returned to class). Just let them loose in those frozen wastes where the spirit is still creating chaos. Corruption out of corruption.
...I am indeed not
her fool, but her corrupter of words.
Christmas Cracker Answer: Lots.