Hairstyles may change, but funny never does
I thought it would be nice to add a bit of structure to the blog. So far it’s been a sort of stream of consciousness thing, where I write whatever comes up in my life, mainly about food or films, and as I like alliteration, and everyone needs a bit of cheering up at the end of the week, I thought Funny Fridays would be the way forward. Not just random funny clips, but a different comedian or group each week. Where better to start, then, than the pair who influenced Monty Python and who worked with The Beatles?
Peter Cook and Dudley Moore are my favourite double act. I grew up listening to old tapes and records, watching scratchy videos and listening to Dudley’s music. Quoting the sketch One Leg Too Few is as natural to me as singing Adele is to moping teenagers. They first shot to fame alongside Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller in the revue Beyond The Fringe, which eventually took them from Edinburgh to London and then New York. That show turned all four of them into celebrities, but, as a satirical sketch show, it obviously had a shelf life. In the mid 1960s the BBC approached Dudley Moore about doing a TV show that was part sketch, part music. It was supposed to have a different guest each week, titled Not Only Dudley Moore, But Also… etc. However, Peter Cook came on board while the show was still in pre-production and it turned into just Not Only, But Also. This is the big daddy of sketch shows, but sadly very few episodes remain. The BBC wiped all but the first and last episodes of each series so they could reuse the tapes. Travesty! The sketches that remain have become classics, like the Leaping Nuns of St Beryl, below.
The Leaping Nuns also made an appearance in the 1969 film Bedazzled, starring the duo, directed by Stanley Donen. While Peter Cook and Dudley Moore were quite at home coming up with ridiculous and hilarious sketches that stood up on their own, they were quite happy to poke fun at current events too. This next sketch, Alan A Dale, takes the mick out of Twang! The Musical! which had just become the West End’s biggest flop, and was the end of Lionel Bart’s career.
The TV show also provided a useful stage for Dudley as a jazz musician, with weekly guest singers including Cilla Black and Marian Montgomery, the latter appearing all sultry in this rendition of Close Your Eyes, which also features Dudley being all cute and adorable from about halfway through.
This blupdate is a celebration of Not Only But Also, and maybe in the future I’ll post some clips from their later careers (Peter Cook stayed hilarious, but never really had another hit and descended into alcoholism, while Dudley Moore became an unlikely sex symbol and conquered Hollywood). It seems only fitting, then, to end this post with the most famous sketch of all – Pete and Dud in the pub – and then finish it with Goodbyeee, the end credits song. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip back to the 1960s. If it proves popular I’ll do it again!