Bridget Christie Minds The Gap
'A brilliant clown capable of incredible subtlety' Bridget Christie chooses her comedy favourites
Written by Steve Bennett in Chortle on March 7th, 2013
What can I say about Rebecca Front? One of the finest comedy actresses of all time, ever. Everything she does is superb, but there are two things in particular that stick in my mind. One was when she played Gina Langland, the American singer in Knowing Me Knowing You. She kept calling Alan Alec by mistake. Her face, when Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan) repeatedly shouts his name at her, is absolutely priceless. I don’t know how many takes it took, but how they both kept it together is beyond me. The other time was when she played the fashion designer, Yvonne Boyd. There’s one line in particular that got me. ‘Do you want me to say Aha?’ Yes.’ ‘Aha.’ Classic.
Julia Louis Dreyfuss As Elaine Benes In Seinfeld
Can you believe it? Another funny, brilliant woman. Larry David said that having Julia Louis Dreyfuss in the show gave it a ‘lustre’. She was brilliant at physical comedy and clowning but was also capable of incredible subtlety and could convey so much by doing very little. There was one bit in Seinfeld that still brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it.
She was telling Jerry about a date she’d had the night before. At the end of the evening, when they were sitting in the car, and saying goodbye, the guy got his willy out. All she said was ‘He took it out’. But the WAY she said it, whilst polishing her glasses, was total genius. Classic Oliver Hardy moves. I think I’ve watched her do this bit about 20 times, over and over again. ‘He took (breathes on glasses) it out.’ I’m even laughing now, typing it out.
Michael Richards As Kramer
Kramer – quite possibly the best character in a sitcom, ever. Richards’ commitment to the character borders on madness. The attention to detail is extraordinary. From what he does with his hands, to how he eats and sits, right down to what socks he wears.
I loved watching the Inside Looks (the making of Seinfeld). Richards never rehearsed any of the physical stuff he did. He just did most of it on the spot, as they were filming. It must’ve made it very hard for everyone else to stay focussed. There are too many hilarious falls, trips, clowning and stunts he did to mention. But one of my favourite things he ever did was when he announced a ‘commercial break’, in the Merv Griffin Show episode, then just sat there eating some crisps and drinking Coke for a minute, then says ‘Right. We’re back’. Even in the final edit, you can still see George, Elaine and Jerry all cracking up. Apparently he just decided to do that himself.
Click here to watch the scene.
Look at these two clips! I wish I could just do this as my act, and nothing else. But I don’t think it would be financially viable. Not in these times. Every time I see it, a little part of me dies, because I’m not doing that, and nobody else is. He looks a bit older as well, just like a normal middle-aged man with a family, which makes it all the more funny for some reason. Also, look at the pianist. She’s hilarious.
StS’ Rolling Stones
I actually wet myself when I saw this for the first time. I hope Mick Jagger has watched this. ‘You passed too bad gas’, ‘Where’s Kojak?’, ‘I will stop the office trotter. I don’t need to say any more about this one.
Freddie Starr Doing Mick Jagger At Royal Variety Performance
I don’t have an obsession with Mick Jagger. Whatever you think of Freddie Starr, professionally or personally, you can’t take this one away from him.
Dave Allen: ‘Going To School For The First Time’ routine
This is such a beautifully written and performed routine. Dave Allen is one of my all-time favourite comics. I remember watching him with my Irish Catholic parents and not being sure if I was supposed/allowed to be laughing or not. This routine is so funny, but also quite moving.
My friend Louise Coats sent this to me. We have exactly the same sense of humour. I’m not sure who they are, but it has to be one of the funniest sketches I’ve ever seen. Everything about it. The idea itself. The commentary. The actors. Their clothes. Look at the man standing behind the swinging doors. Sublime.
Kristen Wiig: Judy Grimes: Just Kiddin’ Sketch On Saturday Night Live
Another funny woman. Kirsten Wiig, like Front and Dreyfuss – is brilliant in everything she does. Look at this sketch of her on SNL. Amazing!
LAUREL AND HARDY – COUNTY HOSPITAL
I used to watch Laurel and Hardy with my dad every day after school, from the age of about four. I used to hate them at first. But then Ollie took about 20 minutes getting out of a car once, and from then on I was completely hooked. In County Hospital, Ollie’s in his hospital bed, and Stan brings him some ‘boiled eggs and nuts’.
The idea that you’d bring someone boiled eggs and nuts in hospital was enough for me, but it gets much funnier. Ollie doesn’t want the boiled eggs and nuts, so Stan has them. The way Stan eats an egg has to be seen. I can’t do it justice here. Timeless.
I saw Kevin McAleer at the Kings Head in Crouch End about six years ago. He did a routine about being in a café with his helmet on. All the comics at the back of the room were on the floor, silently begging him to stop. It went on and on and on, getting funnier and funnier. McAleer has a sort of magical, mystical quality about him. It’s like he’s just wandered on to the stage, by mistake, to tell us about something that’s confused him. Unbearably funny.
This Is Spinal Tap
I know it’s a cliché, but I couldn’t not include Spinal Tap. The amp volume bit and when they’re in their dressing room complaining about their sandwich filler not fitting in the bread are particular highlights for me.
Bridget Christie Minds The Gap starts on Radio 4 at 11pm tonight (Thursday).
Here’s a clip: downloads/2013-03-06-bridget_on_womans_hour.mp3