I wonder what on earth possessed the Nottingham Royal Concert Hall management to call off the Ken Dodd show after just a few people had said that Ken was no longer funny enough for 2009. I know he may be getting on, but there's no doubt he provides excellent value for money often performing until the early hours of the morning.
I am fortunate enough to have seen Ken Dodd twice, once at the Futurist Theatre in Scarborough 25 years ago and again about 10 years ago at the Bridlington Spa Theatre and I have to say he was damn funny both times and his act had changed substantially over the years. If you've ever seen 'An Audience with Ken Dodd' from the ITV production, that about sums up this great man's career: well respected, funny and topical. The last time I saw him at Bridlington, my three children, all in their teens fell asleep and we carried them out of the theatre about midnight and Ken had by no means finished.
Les Dawson was another favourite and again I saw him in Bridlington on his comedy stage show and at the Hull New Theatre in a Ray Clooney farce, 'Run for your Wife' in which he showed how good he was at stage acting. He sadly died soon after.
I only saw Tommy Cooper once, again at Bridlington Spa. Even before the big man started to speak, just standing at the microphone gave the audience hysterics. I always remember after the interval, there was just a grand piano on the stage. He appeared in tuxedo and began to play 'Autumn Leaves.' An odd leaf fell from the ceiling and fluttered down onto the piano as he was playing. Then another leaf. And a few more; then, quite a few leaves were falling around him and finally a torrent of leaves falling, covering the piano and to cap it all, hessian sacks with 'Leaves' written on the sacking were thrown from the ceiling and the whole house collapsed in painful laughter as he looked so serious and surprised as he peeped out from the pile of leaves. Good stuff; simple, perhaps adolescent - but fun.
All three men were of their time and they were unforgettable and we have to look for new talent and there doesn't seem too much around to compare. There are a few good stand ups performing but Cooper, Dawson and Dodd were unique in their approach - well known themes, tried and tested for the audience of the time. Perhaps modern younger audiences would not find them so funny these days because those classic comedians challenged the values of their day and we have moved on - sadly.
There were others: I saw Morecambe and Wise at the long gone ABC Theatre in Hull and Bob Monkhouse at the now defunct Westfield Country Club in Cottingham. I am privileged to have seen all those I have mentioned.
"I wouldn't say my mother-in-law was a big woman, but she went to the cinema the other night in a white dress and they showed the picture on her back."