July 11th 1981

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 1
Comedy day participants

On Saturday, up again at 9 or so, then chatted with Danny for a while, before dragging all the dirty clothes to the launderette.  Also did our shopping for the day, and Val and I mislaid each other, and took some time and a chunk of walking on my part before we re-discovered each other.  This made it later than I wanted, since Comedy Day at the park began at 12, and I had wanted to be there at the kick-off.  However, we caught a bus over, and arrived at 12.30, just as the opening formalities were finishing.  As we arrived, there was a familiar figure at the mike – Jim Crenna, the opening MC.  And from then on it was comedy all the way.  Obviously, the quality varied, but in general the standard was excellent, and there was a nice variety of styles – improv groups, stand-ups, musicians, a magician.  The time flew by very fast, only lagging for a while at about 4, and I think that was only because the standard of comedians at that time was relatively weak.  There were so many comedians that it’s difficult to put names to them all, but among the best were the headliner, Michael Pritchett, Papaya Juice, Dr Gonzo.  Spaghettijam did a spot, but didn’t come over all that well.  We took a few pictures with a good camera, a Pentax, that Danny had lent us… with the possibility of buying?  The day had begun cloudy and rather cold, but fortunately the clouds had rolled away, and left a very hot afternoon.  At the end of it I was left with a very curious suntan, just on my legs from the shorts line to the knees – the bits that were facing straight up.  When it all finished, Val and I wandered out through the park, experimenting with the camera and taking quite a lot of pictures – arty ones, silly ones – we were keen to get to the end of the film, and see what it was like. 

We caught the bus back to the shop and decided to spend a lazy evening, since we intended trying to go to work the following morning.  Discovered the film, “The Four Musketeers” was on the box so watched that.  Val wasn’t impressed and fell asleep pretty quickly, but I watched to the end.  It wasn’t as good as I thought it would be, partly because the quality of reception was poor, partly because it didn’t transfer very well to the small screen anyway.  Telly in the US really is pretty dire.  There is the much-vaunted choice, but too often it’s a choice between several dire programmes.  And there’s not all that much new stuff – a lot of it is old programmes, so it is possible to watch TV from 15 years back on a regular basis – an accidental plus.  Curious English programmes – the expected classic serials, but also Dr Who, a series called After Benny (Hill) featuring British comics – Cooper, Howerd, etc.  But the commercials are worst… appalling.  Just mock wives explaining to mock husbands about soap powder.  In comparison, the better English ones are mini-masterpieces.

Quite a lot about comedy here, one way and another; I do like to laugh.  But the rant about US TV was a bit much, and something of an easy target.  And since our own TV has followed the American prescription – lots of choice, most of it dreadful – I shouldn’t have sounded quite so smug.

  1. Pamela J Blair

    You weren’t too hard on American TV, and especially the commercials! I can’t stand to watch TV because of the commercials–even on PBS, the publicly supported station. But I have to say that I really don’t “get” British humor. I never know when to laugh, and the things others think funny seem just silly to me. Too bad you’ve copied our terrible example. Now I only watch movies from Netflix or Amazon Prime, and sometimes I watch European series on MHZ. The French have put out some excellent ones (as well as some pretty terrible ones). I think 1981 was a time, post-Vietnam War, when people here relaxed a little. Maybe that’s why there was a comedy day. I doubt there was even one to be cancelled in 2020.

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