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Why didn't we realise TV was rubbish?


dumpster
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On 24/07/2022 at 21:11, dumpster said:

Comedians would treat jokes as a free commodity

I'm sure I've mentioned before, my dad used to take me to the local Club when I was far too young, essentially because I loved stand up comedy and had this ability to remember jokes and parot them back in An Act. He's said since he always thought I might give it a go when I got a bit older. Plus he liked "the singers".

 

Anyway, back in then I reckon 90% of acts did what Chubby Brown does now and just told a series of unrelated jokes. They weren't "funny" per se, they could just remember a string of "what do you call a ..." type jokes. What this means was that you'd often get a couple of acts telling a couple of the same jokes in their act. It's why I always mention the "so the blind can hate them as well" thing because they all told that joke. It was like jokes going round the playground. Someone would hear it and would repeat it as their own. Again, because they were reliant on only ever playing somewhere once.

 

What we consider a comedy act these days really didn't go over well back then. The winning format was joke > laugh > joke > laugh and so on. Audiences could be brutal to anyone doing a funny story or a skit type act. Which is actually what translated to TV better.

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2 hours ago, ScouserInExile said:

What we consider a comedy act these days really didn't go over well back then. The winning format was joke > laugh > joke > laugh and so on. Audiences could be brutal to anyone doing a funny story or a skit type act. Which is actually what translated to TV better.

 

Which kind of got me thinking that the satire boom, Pete and Dud, TW3, David Frost, Python didn't do the clubs and went straight to TV.  I'm wondering if that was a product of their public school background getting them an easier "in" with the BBC.  They didn't have to schlep an act around the club circuit for ten years.

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43 minutes ago, Plissken said:

 

Which kind of got me thinking that the satire boom, Pete and Dud, TW3, David Frost, Python didn't do the clubs and went straight to TV.  I'm wondering if that was a product of their public school background getting them an easier "in" with the BBC.  They didn't have to schlep an act around the club circuit for ten years.


The Oxbridge connections defiantly helped a lot of them will have done footlight reviews and I’m guessing fringe as well before TV. Plus there were quite a few largely forgotten smaller shows that were precursors to Monty Python or TWTWTW etc where pretty much everyone half decent appeared on. Late 50s to late 60’s TV comedy has a quite interesting history. 

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23 hours ago, Capwn said:

That Barrymore video in the OP is amazing.

 

Isn't it though? That bit where he got the daughter of the last woman to be hanged on only to make fun of her alcoholism then do a duet with her of the song her mother liked to sing to the man she killed. Good god.

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21 hours ago, MK-1601 said:

 


Also: it's really massively obvious in hindsight that comics and comedy writers leant on the lack of access to US TV to 'borrow' material up until the 1990s.

I liked Stewart Lee's comment; "my life is sometimes just like an episode of Jack Dee's sitcom, Lead Baloon. And by that I mean that events happen that are so close to Curb Your Enthusiasm it's incredible nobody's been sued.

 

I'm very sure (although YouTube provides no evidence) that I've seen footage of early Lenny Henry doing Richard Pryors stand up, almost word for word.

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The guy from the OP has done another video. He doesn't say as much on this one as the appalling content speaks for itself.  This is truly quite extraordinary, you won't believe the racist comedian... No spoilers, but the fact that the audience loves this makes me sad.

 

 

 

 

 

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On 23/07/2022 at 17:55, Stoppy2000 said:

Russ Abbot was several leagues below Cannon & Ball. When Cannon & Ball were on I'm A Celebrity they seemed like proper nice blokes. 

One act I could never understand was the Krankies - they seemed to get on kids TV all the time. No idea why. 

 

Ian Krankee, now there was celeb who had his head screwed on. While the rest of 80's tv celebs were conkers deep in cubscouts and thinking nothing would ever happen he thought "hang about, I have urges towards kids, but how about, instead of ruining their lives, I just find myself a wee lady willing to dress up as a schoolboy?"

 

Their act probably got so much tv time because they were notorious swingers and probably had a lot of dirt on a lot of people

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On 23/07/2022 at 11:48, peeveen said:

Celebrity Love Jungle On Ice.

 

Celebrities have to fall in Love in the jungle while constantly ice skating?

 

Sold, if only to see snapped ankles and them soiling themselves because they can't get up.

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On 30/07/2022 at 21:45, sir podger said:

 

Ian Krankee, now there was celeb who had his head screwed on. While the rest of 80's tv celebs were conkers deep in cubscouts and thinking nothing would ever happen he thought "hang about, I have urges towards kids, but how about, instead of ruining their lives, I just find myself a wee lady willing to dress up as a schoolboy?"

 

Their act probably got so much tv time because they were notorious swingers and probably had a lot of dirt on a lot of people

 

My money is on Janette getting Savilled in exchange for a Ford Cortina

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Going back to the OP, I've always loved that Mayall / Cannon and Ball clip, simply because they are having a blast and Mayall ad-libs a line that nearly corpses Cannon (who has barely been holding it together all the way through) while Ball completes the sketch with an absolute gleam in his eye.

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Bloke goes to the doctor, says Doctor Doctor, I'm a married man with a beautiful wife but I'm starting to doubt my sexuality, I think I might actually be gay, but I'm not sure.  Doctor asks, well, is there anyone that you're attracted to other than your wife? Bloke says, yes, Jeanette Krankie.  Doctor advises, well in that case, you are straight, and gay, and a pedophile all at once.

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1 hour ago, christaylor said:

For some reason an episode from the first series of Noel's House Party is being shown on bbc4 tonight at 7pm. Think I'll check it out, see if it's as bad as I remember. 

 

I like these little 3 mins versions, sort of sums it up.

 

edit : Interesting fact, Noel Edmunds was nearly my dad. My mum turned him down for a date.

 

 

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The guy making these video “essays” (as he calls them) is really good, wonderful deadpan humour, he’s like Charlie Brooker before he became a Netflix luvvie wanker.

 

In his “You Bet” video, he sums up brilliantly what Saturday night television was back then, and how it really came to exist. It was the entertainment equivalent of a buffet, something for everyone but unfortunately you don’t have a choice and there’s going to be some really shit dishes served up in that buffet which you will have to digest.

 

The You Bet one also has an interesting nugget by the original host Bruce Forsyth. For those that don’t remember You Bet, it was a terrible celebrity “talent” contest which involved betting on absolutely bottom of the barrel “feats”. (Like in the video, a child that can remember different types of old windmills). But Bruce Forsyth makes a comment about “make sure you bet at home, bet with your gran or grandad”.

 

That just totally sums up TV back then, I mean, who the fuck now would invite their gran over for Saturday night to watch TV? But back then, it’s what people did. Especially in the UK, colour TVs still felt pretty new and it was probably likely that your grandparents still had a tiny black and white TV from the 60s that used a dial knob to literally tune in to each channel. 

 

It’s why so much Saturday night TV back then was this variety crap. It was the light entertainment equivalent of the Fast Show. Don’t like comedians? Well, hold on, because they’ll be some random male tap dancers on in a few minutes. Don’t worry Dad, Linda Lusardi will be on in a few minutes in a short skit with Jimmy Cricket. Oh, there’s Daniel O’Donnell. Gran likes him. Such a nice boy. 

 

These days everyone can just watch whatever they want on their phones while Simon Cowell is on in the background. 

 

But the thing is, in 20-30 years time, people are going to look back on what’s on TV now and go “WTF is that crap?” Closing night of the Commonwealth Games and you’ve got UB40 without the actual lead singer or “Dexys” singing a song from literally 40 years ago while dressed a mobster clowns. 

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My favourite used to be Paul Daniel's Magic Show.

It was variety in a sense - you'd get music and comedy stuff but all with magic incorporated into the acts.

You'd get proper world class stage illusions as well as the awesome close-up card tricks and then bonkers stuff like Hans Moretti shooting crossbows at people. And that guy who used to blow bubbles and fill them with cigarette smoke.

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Surely this is just a case of competition?

 

Back in the days of Russ Abbot or whatever, it was ITV competing against BBC. That was about it really, they were not even competing with America as most British citizens didn't have access to US tv. Now when a tv show comes out it's essentially competing against every other network/streaming device out there.

 

There is also the matter of viral advertising that comes from word of mouth which now reaches the entire world in the same day. If you sent a VHS collection of the entire BreakingBad series from the future back to the UK in 1982, someone would have found it and been like "This is amazing". Maybe they would have told George down the pub 'Ere have a watch of this mayte'.

 

In the end, probably 8 people would have watched it. MAYBE someone would have taken it to ITV and been like 'Yo, you should totally make a show like this' but the ITV exec would be like 'WTF is this, a show about a teacher with cancer making meth? People won't like that, could we perhaps make the show be live and this Walt guy gets gunged by kids every week whilst answering science questions? People love that.'

 

 

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I reckon my nan, rest her soul etc, spent much of her last 10-15 pre-dementia years bemoaning the lack of variety shows on telly. She really loved Russ Abbott and all that. And complaining, above all I think she might have liked that best. Anyway, this thread has given me fond memories of being around their place for me tea on a Sunday, Bullseye on the box and so on.

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@gone fishin interestingly, or not, You Bet was based on the format of a German show Wetten dass, which ran until 2014. From what I’ve been told that sort of format (and similar) lasted a bit longer in Germany. (And oddly, the presenter of Wetten dass also presented a short-lived German remake of Noel’s House Party.)

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I used to quite enjoy You Bet. It was a showcase for some quite eccentric people to enthuse about their unusual hobbies. There was a bloke who could identify any lawnmower based on the sound it made. He then had to coach a contestant who, I think, actually succeeded. 

 

The Generation Game was a good laugh too. What's not to like about watching incompetent old ladies attempting to make a string of sausages? 

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I loved all of it as a kid. Russ Abbott, Les & Dustin, The Krankies, Kenny Everett, Blankety Blank, Noel’s House Party, Jim Davidson’s Big Break… any prime time telly really. 

And yes, a lot of it is excruciating now. Watched a Laughter Show episode recently and had to turn it off after like 3 sketches as it was awful. There was one 30 second sketch and basically the punchline was two astronauts are now in space alone together for the next 8 months and one of them is gay. Like, they built a whole spaceship cockpit sketch just for that. Mind blowing. And an ill-judged joke by Dustin Gee about how little he gets paid (in the mid-80s when there was so much unemployment!)
 

But as I say, I loved it all at the time. And the tradition of “straight man sings a song while the funny one disrupts it” is a fine tradition carried on by Vic & Bob a few times in their shows. 
 

There was a brilliant twitter thread a few years ago that I can’t find now, about how good Bullseye was, and how Bowen would genuinely ask contestants if there was much work up where they were from at the moment (and as someone who worked the clubs, would know a lot about). And how it’s easy now to laugh at the prizes (toasters, cassette players, luggage), but you forget how relatively expensive consumer goods were at the time, and how desirable a good lawnmower was. 
 

Anyone remember that turn which would always appear on Crackerjack, which basically looked like Fathers 4 Justice jumping over a vaulting box for five minutes?

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There was this one guy who used to do some of these show I've been trying to think of. He used to get 2 people from the audience, like a small woman and a big man. And he'd ask them questions. But before they could answer themselves, he'd do replies in funny voices, usually giving the small woman a big husky voice and the big man a little squeaky voice. Which everyone found hilarious.

 

Who was that?

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2 hours ago, Twinbee said:

I loved all of it as a kid. Russ Abbott, Les & Dustin, The Krankies, Kenny Everett, Blankety Blank, Noel’s House Party, Jim Davidson’s Big Break… any prime time telly really. 

And yes, a lot of it is excruciating now. Watched a Laughter Show episode recently and had to turn it off after like 3 sketches as it was awful. There was one 30 second sketch and basically the punchline was two astronauts are now in space alone together for the next 8 months and one of them is gay. Like, they built a whole spaceship cockpit sketch just for that. Mind blowing. And an ill-judged joke by Dustin Gee about how little he gets paid (in the mid-80s when there was so much unemployment!)
 

But as I say, I loved it all at the time. And the tradition of “straight man sings a song while the funny one disrupts it” is a fine tradition carried on by Vic & Bob a few times in their shows. 
 

There was a brilliant twitter thread a few years ago that I can’t find now, about how good Bullseye was, and how Bowen would genuinely ask contestants if there was much work up where they were from at the moment (and as someone who worked the clubs, would know a lot about). And how it’s easy now to laugh at the prizes (toasters, cassette players, luggage), but you forget how relatively expensive consumer goods were at the time, and how desirable a good lawnmower was. 
 

Anyone remember that turn which would always appear on Crackerjack, which basically looked like Fathers 4 Justice jumping over a vaulting box for five minutes?

I watched that Cannon & Ball sketch with Rik Mayall posted earlier in the thread and it was awfully cringey. Ball looked uncomfortable throughout, they all spoke over each other, there were awkward pauses and, crucially, it wasn't funny in the slightest. Yet at the time it probably would've gone down quite well.

 

Some of that is obviously because we didn't have anything better to compare against, some of it would be because these shows were generally catering to the whole family (which would limit what could be done) and some of it is, as was noted in another good post, was that these people were club acts and not trained for TV. 

 

I actually watched 'The Boys in Bkue' recently (it's on YouTube) and Cannon & Ball were just as awkward in that too, despite it being a film where they would've been able to have multiple takes to get it right. It looked really amateur but showed how out of their comfort zone they really were.

 

Even Morecombe & Wise suffer a lot with timing issues and awkward pauses - it really stands out now, after we've had decades of much more professionally made TV.

 

That said, I did used to like the family quiz shows - The Generation Game, Big Break (I didn't know what a tool Davidson was, obviously), Blankety Blank, 3-2-1 etc. They were inoffensive and truly were things I would watch with my family and, for however bad thry may now look, I actually miss that aspect. That kind of Saturday night with the folks just doesn't happen now (obviously the decline of the family unit has a lot of social causes).

 

 

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14 hours ago, Twinbee said:

 

 

There was a brilliant twitter thread a few years ago that I can’t find now, about how good Bullseye was, and how Bowen would genuinely ask contestants if there was much work up where they were from at the moment (and as someone who worked the clubs, would know a lot about). And how it’s easy now to laugh at the prizes (toasters, cassette players, luggage), but you forget how relatively expensive consumer goods were at the time, and how desirable a good lawnmower was. 
 

I remember this twitter thread - it was almost entirely bollocks. Just watch Bullseye any night and you'll rarely (if ever) see Jim making any comments about unemployment. 

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On 11/08/2022 at 09:08, JohnC said:

There was this one guy who used to do some of these show I've been trying to think of. He used to get 2 people from the audience, like a small woman and a big man. And he'd ask them questions. But before they could answer themselves, he'd do replies in funny voices, usually giving the small woman a big husky voice and the big man a little squeaky voice. Which everyone found hilarious.

 

Who was that?

Wayne Dobson.

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