Sunday, 4 January 2009

It's All In The......Timing*

As much I'm a fully paid-up, card-carrying sci-fi geek** sort of a chap, I am actually far more of a comedy junkie. There's something pretty special about that moment when a couple of performers achieve a level of rapport that makes everything they're doing seem effortless, spontaneous and hilarious. It's a tired old cliche trotted out time and time again but cliches only become so oft repeated due to that element of truth - it's all about the timing. Here are some of my favourite sketches to help illustrate the point...

Greig's Piano Concerto By Greig - Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise had the sort of performing relationship that many comedians dream of and it is for precisely that reason that their popularity has endured long after their deaths. They created the impression of constant ad-libbing - for the most part, nothing could be further from the truth as they rehearsed incessantly (which meant that, on those occasions when things went wrong, they could ad-lib to save it). Ernie Wise is often unfairly categorised as the "unfunny one". This is wrong in so many ways. He is the straight man and without him to bounce off, Eric wouldn't be the "funny one". This is my favourite of all their routines - it still makes me laugh when I watch it and contains a good solid comedy performance from a non-comedian too (conductor Andre Previn - or "Andrew Preview as he is referred to throughout).

Good Grief, The Comedian's A Bear - Another instinctive comedy partnership here - Jim Henson and Frank Oz. They performed together as so many different characters and each combination has that spark to it that only close friends and top comedy performers can manage. There are many choice moments of these two to choose from but here is my favourite Kermit and Fozzie sketch ever, which again always amuses me. (Sadly, this is the only version I could find online - it's the album version with pictures inexpertly edited over the top. Ignore the visuals and listen.)

Getta Your Tootsi Frootsi Ice Cream - OK, I'm not sure if I'm stretching this a bit to call it a sketch but, let's face it, Marx Brothers films are generally a collection of sketches and gags hung over a loose framework (well, the better one are anyway). I could also have gone with a Stan and Ollie moment but I'm gonna go for Groucho and Chico in one of the usual routines in which Groucho is bamboozled by Chico despite having the verbal upper hand.

Slap - There are so many Monty Python moments I could have gone for and, with six different comedy performers to choose from***, many different variations to pick. So I've gone for something that is short, extremely silly, has top notch timing and is very, very funny. Yes, it's the Fish Slapping Dance.

That's just a few of my favourite moments there. There are many, many others and I could start to list them all but then we'd be here all night and, you know, we're busy people, we've got things to see, places to do and people to go.

* Yes, that might well be the oldest joke in the book. Either that or:- A horse walks into a bar. The barman says, "Why the long face?"

** Not literally, obviously. I don't have a card with "Sci-fi geek" written on it. That would be of no practical use whatsoever.

*** OK, it's probably more like five as Terry Gilliam never really appeared onscreen that much but I'm going to stick with six.

No comments: