In the Daily Mail

On the evening that the great stand-up comic Frank Carson died, the Daily Mail called me at about 9pm, to ask if I could file an obituary before midnight.

That would have been an impossible task, except that the wonderful Barry Cryer was kind enough to deliver an off-the-cuff encomium to Frank – the two had worked together on the Kenny Everett Show in the Eighties. Baz’s insights were the basis for the whole piece. He’s a joy to talk to, never critical but always able to see past the superficial. And he’s also, quite possibly, the funniest man in Britain.

A few days later, I did another piece for the Mail, about how stand-up comedy thrives during hard times. On this occasion, it was the author and academic Dr Matthew Kerry, lecturer in film and media at Nottingham Trent university, who supplied the really illuminating quotes.

I’m grateful to both Matt and Barry! Here are the features, on the Mail’s website:

Frank Carson Stand-up comedy

Oldie lunch

The rules of the Oldie lunch say speakers should talk for just ten minutes, but Barry Cryer put me at my ease in the bar before the event – “Don’t look at your watch,” he advised me. “Just stop talking if you see them yawning through gritted teeth!”

Here’s the speech I gave, at Simpson’s in the Strand, on 22 November 2011. My subject was Galton and Simpson, The Men Who Invented Sitcom... and Ray & Alan were sitting to my right, disagreeing cheerfully with the accolade. I couldn’t hear their whispers, but it turned out later that they were telling the Independent’s diarist that they didn’t invent the genre at all: they got the original idea from listening to AFN Stuttgart in the 40s. I refuse to accept that German radio dreamed up sitcom, so I shall continue to credit Ray and Alan with the invention.

Here’s the piece in the Indie, and here’s a podcast of the speech itself. If you think I sound nervous, you’re right!