Saturday, 31 July 2010

Anyone Found A Missing French Horn?

This post is inspired straight from Mimi's Sunday Roast, just published. Mimi plays the French Horn and when I was putting the roast together I immediately thought of Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, two British comedians and popular performers.

The British duo Flanders and Swann were the actor and singer Michael Flanders (1922–1975) and the composer, pianist and linguist Donald Swann (1923–1994), who collaborated in writing and performing comic songs.

Between 1956 and 1967 they performed some of their songs in their long-running two-man revues At the Drop of a Hat and At the Drop of Another Hat. Both revues were recorded in concert along with several studio-based tracks.

My favourite sketch is a skit on Mozart's Horn Concerto No 3 where Michael, accompanied by Donald on the piano, sings a woeful tale of his missing French Horn, no doubt much to the relief of the neigbours.

Michael contracted polio in 1943 and was confined to his wheelchair and so both men were seated during their many performances. Sadly both men are no longer with us.

So here it is - I think it is very funny.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Longest Words In The English Language

Just thought you'd be interested in the longest words in the English Language.
Get your tongues round this little lot!!

Friday, 16 July 2010


I have found a number of additional monologues which Stanley Holloway did not record, and I have not yet posted. The first one is Magna Carta, which if my memory of English history serves me correctly took place in 1215 and was signed reluctantly by King John, while his brother, Richard was away fighting the crusades. I am preparing a full list of all the monologues with links which I will post soon. I know several of you liked these so I am delighted to post some more. For those not knowing the majority of these monologues are spoken with a North England accent.

by Marriott Edgar (1937)

I'll tell of the Magna Carta
As were signed at the Baron's command
On 'Runnymead' Island in t'middle of t'Thames
By King John, as were known as 'Lack Land'.

Some say it were wrong of the Barons,
Their will on the King so to thrust,
But you'll see if you look at both sides of the case
That they had to something, or bust.

For John, from the moment they crowned him,
Started acting so cunning and sly,
Being King, of course, he couldn't do any wrong,
But, by gum, he'd a proper good try.

He squandered the ratepayer's money;
All their cattle and corn did he take,
'Til there wasn't a morsel of bread in the land,
And folk had to manage on cake.

The way he behaved to young Arthur
Went to show as his feelings was bad;
He tried to get Hubert to poke out his eyes,
Which is no way to treat a young lad.

It were alright him being a tyrant
To vassals and folks of that class,
But he tried on his tricks with the Barons an' all,
And that's where he made a faux pass.

He started bombarding their castles,
And burning them over their head,
'Til there wasn't enough castles left to go round,
And they had to sleep six in a bed.

So they went to the King in a body,
And their spokesman, Fitzwalter by name,
He opened the 'ole in his 'elmet and said,
'Concil-latory' like, "What's the game ?"

The King starts to shilly and shally,
He sits and he haws and he hums,
'Til the Barons in rage started knashing their teeth,
And them with no teeth gnashed on t'gums.

Said Fitz', through the 'ole in his 'elmet,
"It was you as put us in this plight,"
And the King having nothing to say to this 'ere
Murmurred, "Leave your address and I'll write."

This angered the gallant Fitzwalter;
He stamped on the floor with his foot,
And were starting to give John a rare ticking off,
When the 'ole in his 'elmet fell shut.

"We'll get him to sign Magna Carta",
Said Fitz' when his face he had freed;
Said the Barons, "That's right and if one's not enough,
Get a couple and happen they'll breed."

So they set about making a Carta,
When at finish they'd got it drawn up,
It looked like a paper on cattle disease,
Or the entries for t'Waterloo Cup.

Next day, King John, all unsuspecting,
And having the afternoon free,
To Runnymead Island had taken a boat,
And were having some shrimps for his tea.

He had just pulled the 'ead off a big 'un,
And were pinching its tail with his thumb,
When up came a barge load of Barons, who said,
"We thought you'd be here, so we've come."

When they told him they'd brought Magna Carta,
The King seemed to go kind of limp,
But minding his manners he took off his hat
And said, "Thanks very much, have a shrimp."

"You'd best sign at once", said Fitzwalter,
"If you don't I'll tell you for a start
The next coronation will happen quite soon,
And you won't be there to take part."

So they spread Carta out on t'tea table,
And John signed his name like a lamb,
His writing in places were sticky and thick
Through dipping his pen in the jam.

And it's through that there Magna Carta,
As were signed by the Barons of old,
That in England today we can do what we like,
So long as we do what we're told.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Dead Parrot Sketch - John Cleese & Michael Palin

Had a little chuckle over this one again recently.

John Cleese and Michael Palin performed many subsequent live performances of this Monty Python sketch throughout the years. The sketch is classic British comedy and very well known in UK. A while ago everyone knew it off by heart, including me, and it was very popular.

I did find another live version of the sketch some time ago but unfortunately I cannot locate it again for this post, which is a shame.

Some joker, maybe Palin himself, presented John Cleese with a cloth covered parrot cage. As he walked on stage for the performance the audience squealed with laughter as John pulled back the cloth revealing inside a large live red parrot - definitely not dead and definitely not a Norwegian Blue. Both Palin and Cleese collapsed in laughter and the whole sketch became instantly useless, with Cleese holding the cage high and saying, "This is what I call a live parrot!" The pet shop owner revelled in his ad-lib line, "I told you there was nothing wrong with it!" They both forgot their lines but by sheer genius Cleese shouted to the audience, "What comes next?" and instantly 40 voices delivered the correct cue and they had to ad lib all the way through imagining that the parrot was dead. They struggled through the sketch, including the part when the pet shop owner said he had a slug who could say a few words, which made Cleese laugh. If I had been there I would have asked the audience, "Has anyone got a dead parrot?", in an attempt to get the thing on track again.

Of the two Palin was the more likely to break down laughing during the sketch and he was inclined to alter the rules a bit without telling John. In one version when Cleese complained that the parrot was dead, Palin, as the pet shop owner, apologised and presented him with vouchers as compensation. Again the entire sketch was ruined as Palin disappeared from stage leaving a bewildered, open mouthed Cleese facing the audience in silence. You could see his 'gear wheels' revving like mad to think of something to say to rescue the situation! The audience screamed with laughter.

Whatever they did with it the sketch always ended in tumultuous applause, especially with the live red parrot version with the parrot still flapping it's wings announcing to the world it was very much alive. I'll look again for the You Tube - hope I can find it.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Uncontrollable Laughter

Just what makes us burst into uncontrollable laughter?

I came across this You Tube clip by accident tonight
Just imagine sitting in the interview chair and losing it like this!

I could watch it a thousand times and still laugh, even though I do not speak any Dutch and my first viewing was a version without sub titles. I laughed even though I felt very sorry for the interviewees.

Upon closer examination I found another version which explains that the interviewer actually lost his TV career that night.

And another example - this time and American lady newsreader has to leave the set.
Why do they lose it?

The subject matter on the first example was so serious. I guess it was the first chap's high pitched voice followed by the second chap's low pitch voice. But he was in hysterics long before the second chap stated talking.


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