The vice president of human resources, upon hearing that I don’t drink, said, “You mean you’re like this without alcohol or drugs?”
Thirty minutes later, when everybody stopped laughing, I started to wonder what could possibly explain it. We are the sum of our experiences, certainly, but there has to be more.
And then it hit me: I blame the BBC.
Public television used to run Monty Python all the time. I started watching it before puberty, which might actually explain a lot. I was reciting Python lines for my friends long before any of us should have been watching. We sang Python songs in school (well… when there were no teachers around). I wanted to be a LUMBERJACK….. [no singing!]
Since ratings were good (or since they were cheap), other Britcoms started to appear on public tv. I’m trying to remember some of them…..
- Waiting for God: one of my favorites of all time – life at a retirement community where the deliciously evil geezers drag the young folks around til they’re tired.
- The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin: something for everyone. A man in a perennial mid-life crisis and the weird things that befall him. Fart noises and hippos abound. The same fellow had another comedy called Rising Damp, which I never saw.
- Are You Being Served?: my introduction to class in British society. Zany cast of characters working in a department store, including a woman with multi-hued hair who kept referring to her pussy…
- Fawlty Towers: After watching one episode, I realized where my favorite Python bits came from. John Cleese is a comedic genius. Only ran two seasons. Show was set in a small bed+breakfast in Tor-KEY, however that’s spelled.
- There was one show that featured a main character called Mr. Meldrew, who was a retired, sour old guy whose wife worked while he drove the neighbors nuts. Featured Jane Duvitsky, also of Waiting for God.
- Keeping Up Appearances: Absolutely hilarious, about a woman who aspired to be high class but clearly wasn’t. Her long-suffering husband was the comedic star of the show.
- To the Manor Born: occasionally funny show about a woman of high class and low means.
- The Two Ronnies: Ronnies Corbett and Barker. Visual wordplay that was incomparable.
- As Time Goes By: Dame Judi Dench’s comedy vehicle. A little too dry but many funny moments.
- Good Neighbors(?): family living in a row home who decided to grow their own food and livestock
- The Young Ones: introduced by MTV, of all things. The adventures of four really weird college roommates… a poet, a ladies’ man, a hippie, and a punk rocker. Hilarious and absurd at the same time. The gerbil was called Special Patrol Group. Always featured a popular musical group for no particular reason. Guest starring Alexie Sayle – a delightfully sick comic.
There was also Chef, Benny Hill, French and Saunders, The Vicar of Dibley, Absolutely Fabulous, The Goodies, and others I can’t remember. Unlike most people, I didn’t like Benny Hill or Absolutely Fabulous.
My favorite of all time has to be the late, lamented, pickled before his time, Peter Cook. He worked with Dudley Moore on tv shows, movies (BEDAZZLED!), and as two guys called Derek and Clive, who liked to throw out the dirtiest words possible in odd places. Watch `Bedazzled’ and tell me it isn’t one of the greatest comedies ever made (albeit a parody of Faust, or so I hear).
If you’re reading this in the UK, I’m not near as old as this would indicate 🙂
Could it be – maybe I’m a Brit stuck in the body of an American. What’s the word for that? Transpatriot?
A limey toiling in the land of cheap gas.
A teabag boiling in east coast sewage.
If you get a chance, check out any of these comedies. You won’t be sorry.
Well, your friends and family might.