“Here we come…”
British Comedy and the even broader subject of British culture started for me with the Monkeeys. And it was a long fun journey since then.
I do have some heritage from the U.K. so that probably helps but it basically started from growing up with the Monkeeys on television which I would try to never miss (along with the usual collection of Saturday morning cartoons where I would use the TV Guide to map my morning from 7 am to noon like Faramir reviewing a map of Mordor.)
I was especially a fan of Davey to the point where I was playing Tambourine at church and incorporating as best I could the dance that also became known as the “Axl Shuffle” of Axl Rose. Almost wonder if he’s a British Comedy fan? He was mentioned in Depeche Mode 101 where not only was he slammed with a fan exclaiming “guns and posers” but he went to the premier with Dave Gahan trying to distract him when the cheeky line appeared on film. Anyways. ..
The next stage in my britishizing was when I accidentally turned on public television and came across someone who looked and sounded much like Davey Jones minus the red suit and tambourine. It was Hywel Bennett and the show was Shelley.
It wasn’t Davey. He didn’t do Daydream Believer. There wasn’t a decent tambourine in sight. But it made me laugh. And most importantly…it made me curious.
Shelley was smart, fast talking and talked about things I’d never heard of. There were obagines, the foreign office and the dhss, and Chinese take-aways whatever that was. Naturally these were all the British equivalent to talking about eggplant, welfare and ordering Chinese food and picking it up. But for me at eleven it was this whole new world where people talked different about mysterious probably cool grown up things I had no idea about.
The next step was a classic. I watched a number of Fawlty Towers episodes in a row with my Dad and Grandfather. Well. Enough said there.
Eventually I started watching for the two back to back Britcoms that would be on the station from Seattle from 10 to 11 pm (I didn’t use a VCR because that would be wrong. The record feature is meant for…meant for…uh…nevermind…)
These included the classic but new to me…ok…deep breath…Butterflies, Red Dwarf, Never the Twain, The Manor Born, Yes Minister, Yes Prime Minister, Good Neighbours, Monty Python (naturally), Are You Being Served, Blackadder, Mr. Bean (eventually though that came to us first via CBC), and more Fawlty Towers.
With the mixture of YouTube and the British Section of Pic a Flic pictured above I discovered an army more of titles which would be silly to start listing and discovered the world behind many of the shows like Only Fools and Horses (huge in the U.K. but strangely lesser known here) The Young Ones (born of the comedy club beginnings of The Comic Strip Presents…its name taken from its proximity to a strip club) which like many comedy projects began as two person acts such as Fry and Laurie, French and Saunders, and Rik and Abe. One of my most favored movies “The Tall Guy” with Jeff Goldblum is based on the partnership of Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis. It also featured “Must be Love” by Madness.
Which brings me to my strange equal fascination with British Music. Beyond one of my favorite first bands having a British singer (Davey) and the next being Queen I have no idea. I do know that in the case of bands like Embrace and Elvis Costello I would like their music first and then find out they were from the United Kingdom afterwards.
I would like to go there someday but I almost wonder if the mystery is more intact we me over here. To me they’re still that cool, strange place of Factory Records (New Order), Mute (Depeche), Black Books, Adam and Joe, and (saving the best for last) these three gentlemen who turned the idea I had of writing a sitcom myself into a huge, huge obsession with the idea.
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