Laughter makes the world go around doesn’t it? That is, until you try to put it to music.The comedy record is a near-forgotten genre, in the dustbin of music history along with Hurricane Smith, Hear’Say, Vanilla Ice and Gary Glitter. Yes, much maligned, and often with good reason, because however good the ‘comedy’ it is so often attached to piss poor music. I suppose the reason is that for anyone who fancies the idea of putting a smile on someone’s face, there is another who smells the opportunity of a quick buck.
And on this day when we are bullied into remembering others less fortunate than ourselves, like all the other poor charities who don’t get a look-in (Guide Dogs for the Blind, Cats Protection league and Parkinson’s get my two bob), Pop Junkie will take its hat off to those who have served in the attempt to put a smile on our face, however misguided their attempt.
Ernie: Benny Hill ~ Although Mr Glitter has a stronger chance of artistic rehabilitation than this fella, we absolutely adored him in the 1970s. So did the rest of the country to the extent that he hit number one with this. Whatever your view on Hill now, there’s a good chance your mum and dad would have had a good old chuckle at this. He also did a great pastiche of Bob Dylan.
The Funky Gibbon: The Goodies ~ Whereas Hill appealed to adults and schoolkids alike, this is aimed firmly at the kids. It’s just stupid, but followed by Black Pudding Bertha and Make a Daft Noise for Christmas, few sold more 7″ than this lot in 1975.
A Hard Day’s Night; Peter Sellars ~ The comedy record is not to be confused with the novelty record. The latter category contains Agadoo, The Frog song, Mr Blobby, Star Trekkin’ and invariably gives the comedy disc a poor name. Some fall happily into both categories, however, like this slice of genius.
Hole in the Ground: Bernard Cribbins ~ Another that sits happily in both camps and I make no bones about saying that I absolutely bloody love this song and his other big 1962 hit, Right Said Fred. Thanks a million Bernard Cribbins, my favourite celebrity uncle, gawd bless ya.
The Ying Tong Song : The Goons ~ The roots of the comedy song go back to Chaucer’s age (Radio 4 did a very good series on the genre last year), here we trace it back to Milligan and co.
The Trail of the Lonesome Pine: Laurel and Hardy ~ Or back a bit further. Number 2 in 1975, although hearing it again, it’s not a comedy record as such, just that anything involving Stan Laurel cannot help but be funny.
Boom OO Yatta-Ta-Ta: Morecambe and Wise ~ Likewise Eric Morecambe.
The Lumberjack Song: Monty Python
Gob On You: Not the Nine O’Clock News ~ Oh how we laughed the next day in the playground.
In the Brownies: Billy Connolly ~ Ditto.
Funky Moped: Jasper Carrot ~ Lucy Davies’ dad hit the top 10 with this in 1975. It got there by virtue of having a saucy b-side, but I love this. It appealed to my 10 year old sensibilities.
Mulligan & O’Hare: Vic’n’Bob ~ Vic Reeves, our greatest living comedy genius.
Thou Shalt Always Kill: Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip ~ Not done for all-out laughs, this is nevertheless a very funny performance and proves that laffs and music can still mix in this modern cynical age.