The man who died laughing

The late Tim Brooke-Taylor was a member of The Goodies were a trio of English comedians who performed on TV in the seventies and early eighties.

There is a unusual story associated with them:

From wikipedia:

On 24 March 1975 Alex Mitchell, a 50-year-old bricklayer from King’s Lynn, literally died laughing while watching an episode of The Goodies. According to his wife, who was a witness, Mitchell was unable to stop laughing whilst watching a sketch in the episode “Kung Fu Kapers” in which Tim Brooke-Taylor, dressed as a kilted Scotsman, used a set of bagpipes to defend himself from a black pudding-wielding Bill Oddie (master of the ancient Lancastrian martial art “Ecky-Thump”) in a demonstration of the Scottish martial art of “Hoots-Toot-ochaye.” After twenty-five minutes of continuous laughter Mitchell finally slumped on the settee and died from heart failure. His widow later sent the Goodies a letter thanking them for making Mitchell’s final moments so pleasant

Here is a dramatization of the event.

The BBC had pulled some previous YouTube videos of this episode. Hopefully they will leave this one up.

Norman Wisdom, Chaplin’s favorite clown

Norman Wisdom, star of British film comedy, died just last year, at 95 years old. The news releases all mentioned how Charlie Chaplin called him his favorite clown.

Here is a little introduction.

And here is the full length piece.

Mr. Bean and silence

Here are two of my favorite Mr. Bean clips.  One takes place in a library, and the other in a school exam.  I think the reason they work so well is because of the situation.  Both the library and the exam are places where quiet is expected, so Mr. Bean’s physical style seems natural.  The silence is normal and allows the audience to focus on the visuals and not be distracted by other sounds.   Places that have quiet imposed by rule have a certain tension, a certain formality.   Odd behavior is funnier when in happening in formal situations.  That’s why the Marx Brothers were usually juxtaposed with high society.

HA! @rowanatkinson just followed me on twitter!

The Mighty Boosh: The Legend of Milky Joe

For Christmas I got a DVD box set of The Mighty Boosh, a comedy series from England. It’s stars are Julian Barrett, and Noel Fielding. The two always end up in some sort of supernatural adventure with mystical characters. I am enjoying it very much. I am going to present images from “The Legend of Milky Joe”. It may not be their best episode, but it makes a great example of how you can build an idea to extreme lengths, and the extremity becomes the source of comedy.

The two characters Vince Noir (Fielding) and Howard Moon (Barrett) are stranded on a tiny island.

They have an argument and draw a line and build a fence between each other.  Vince Noir flourishes and builds a nice hut, while Howard can barely take care of himself.

Howard notices a coconut that appears to have a face.  This is where the barest of characters is created.

The coconut becomes the character “Milky Joe”.   He is Howard’s new friend, and they have intellectual conversations.  For most of the show, the coconuts do not actually talk or move.  The actors are carrying the entire relationship.  It’s almost a parody of the movie “Castaway” where Tom Hanks talks to his volleyball, Wilson.

Vince becomes envious of Howard and his new friend.

Later, Howard hears Vince in conversation inside his hut.  When he goes to see who he’s talking to, he discovers Vince has his own coconut friend, and this one is “Ruby” a female.  Vince acts like Howard is crashing the party.

It was always Vince’s character to meet girls, while Howard was desperate.  After that Vince has two girls, “Ruby” and “Precious”.

Howard pleads with Vince to set him up with Precious.  He arranges a nice dinner for the four of them.

Howard makes his move…

Another evening, Vince is having a party with a bunch of friends.

When he invites Howard to the party, he sees Howard has a black eye.  Howard is in an abusive relationship with Precious.

Howard confronts Precious.  Still there is no movement from the coconut.

She’s knocked to the floor and cracks her nut on a rock.

Vince arrives.  Note the dramatic lighting.

A coconut with a camera films the scene.  This is the first time a coconut is moving on it’s own.

Vince and Howard bury Precious

But some cops show up…

Vince and Howard flee in a bamboo car…

The police chase them.

They go to court…

They are convicted and sentenced to a sort of stoning, in a carnival arcade, but it’s just their heads.

When their heads are knocked over, they are awoken by splashing water.  It was all a dream.  A dream they both shared.  Even though they were sleeping, this is not as wacky as their “real” adventures.  I just like it because they create characters from coconuts, then build and build the relationships and the story to absurd lengths.

It also follows the basic rule of man made creatures.  If you give life to something other than a human being, it historically becomes dangerous.  They become a threat, like the monster in Frankenstein, or the replicants from Blade Runner, or the marching mops in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  Then the story is a matter of who destroys who.


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