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Benny Hill considered funnier than Monty Python by two TV stations---READ!!!!!!!!!!!


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In reply to an earlier post on 24 Nov 2011 10:50:26 GMT
Last edited by the author on 24 Nov 2011 11:00:36 GMT
Lector says:
brisomboy, Oh sure. And Frankie Howerd is an excellent example of one of the 'old school' comedians whose appeal crossed over - so to speak - to the new generation's comedy tastes. He became like the Spike Milligan and Bob Monkhouse almost cult figures to them. But you know - and this may well sound a bit strange - but I became more of a fan of the likes of eg. Les Dawson and Bob Monkhouse and Spike a few others after seeing them in interviews and as subjects of docu's. I just warmed to them, and not least for my appreciaton of their intelligence. And it made me kind of look at them a lot closer I suppose. I discovered that Les Dawson and Spike and Bob were incredibly talented interesting men. It's a shame that Benny never gave a really in-depth interview. He would have been a fascinating subject. I just think he was - as they say - a very shy guy at heart.

Posted on 24 Nov 2011 11:54:36 GMT
Lector says:
The more I think about this discusion topic the more I find this a fascinating subject for discussion. I mean there's always been controversy in humour, different tastes in comedy - and by generation too, and what is considered acceptable by people today can be unacceptable tomorrow, certainly perceived as less or more humorous. But it's the influence of so-called political correctness that has really taken a hold of comedy since about the late 1970's. And people are much more sensitive these days anyway due to pressure groups etc. This is partly as a result of people being much more inclined to speak up more when they think something is offensive to them and others whom they think are unfairly targeted. Also, that they and their cause/s are being heard more in the media via in comedy acts by people of a likewise point of view. I mean we could ask why should people just simply accept a joke about the way they look, the colour of their skin or where they are from or how they are as a mother in-law etc, as if they should be obliged to, almost by a kind of societal obligatory behavioural default? But the crucial thing here is humour is inherently, strongly of a rebellious, often of a critical nature at heart of someone or something. We notice difference and difference stimilates us as human beings to have a view, be it accurate, fair or not, and to pass comment accordingly. As long as people have free-will I think all kinds of humour will survive somewhere in society, be it Benny's or the Python's or what or whomever's. But some humour simply will always transcend others. Norman Wisdom and Benny Hill etc especially, because they deal with the very fundamentals of everyday life and interaction. They were extremely popular in authoritarian places like comunist Albania etc, for a reason. And it's because ultimately people don't like being told what to laugh at and what not to.

Posted on 25 Nov 2011 01:49:10 GMT
brisomboy says:
I think there's a fine line with most people in what they regard as being acceptable and not acceptable in humour. For me, Benny never crossed that line, but someone like Bernard Manning crossed the line so many times he just wasn't funny. For others however, they thought Manning was the best.

And yes different generations too will have different levels of acceptance. Myself, I'm old enough to remember the old school comedians, but young enough to accept the alternative comedians when they came in. And even today I find newer comedians such as the ones on Live At The Apollo & Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow programmes to be funny. I know a lot of people though that only like the comedians that are from their generation / ones that they grew up with.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Nov 2011 02:14:52 GMT
Lector says:
brisom', I have mixed feelings about Berhard Manning. I mean I just couldn't help but find his deadpan facial expressions hilarious and his timing perfect. I recal even Stephen Fry acknowleged that much aboiut him. But if Manning had kept the racial stuff out of his act he'd have had a lot more fans today. Maybe it just went with his generation and life-experience.People were a lot tougher and much less sensitive in society in his earlier days. And then he was ex-army too. He certainly upset a lot of people later on, especially when political comedy came to the fore. But as he said himself, he made a small fortune while he was going about it, which is primarily why he never changed his material to any great extent of course. And I thought Richard Wilson and Mrs Merton dealt with him brilliantly on her show that time, when Manning came over as a terribly ignorant and arrogant, very outdated bully. Even the studio audience turned on him and you could see it wasone of the very rare occasions when his humour could not keep him in control of the situation.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Nov 2011 02:52:34 GMT
Last edited by the author on 25 Nov 2011 03:00:27 GMT
brisomboy says:
Lector, I think Manning was ok on The Comedians, because it was a watered down version of his act. But it is one thing to tell a joke based on race but different to simply come out with racist insults, which a lot of time he did in his live acts. It is these racist insults which I found unacceptable, but as I said others found it funny. Yes I remember him on Mrs Merton and had the same opinion of his appearance as you, although in his version of events, he painted a very different story saying that he floored Caroline Aherne by confirming he was a racist, something he usually denies!

I found Les Dawson better at the deadpan facial expressions and a lot more funnier.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Nov 2011 11:18:03 GMT
Agreed Brisomboy, I would be first to admit that I totally forgot that Spike and the Python team have used female nudity. However, the fact that it was such a small part of the actual output of either in comparison to Hill speaks volumes but whilst remembering that comedy is a product of its time Hill never adapted or changed because he couldn't with due deference to Anthony Burgess I have no idea as to what his taste in comedy was like remember there are people who describe Lee Evans as a comedy genius? Using the tired old defence that he was popular in over 100 countries does not wash, Norman Wisdom was popular in Alabania and still is, popularity is no recommendation. Not wishing to be denigrating about NW he did have some talents and seemed to be a decent human being. Though his comedy was never to my taste. I am willing to be convinced about Hill if you can point me in the direction of any specific example of his work which was actually novel and inventive, my taste stretches from Jerry Saddowitz Bill Hicks Laurel and Hardy to 40's and 50's MGM Cartoons and everything in between so lack of sense of humour is not a problem. Having trawled You Tube I remain to be convinced, and would like to be proven wrong. As for comic timing that is the pre requsite for being a comedian, its like saying He is a millionaire and has a lot of money, tool of the trade surely and a thing that can be learnt his contemparies also demonstrated there sense of timimg to a much higher standard Tommy Cooper for instance.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Nov 2011 11:35:24 GMT
Sou'Wester says:
I am not sure how much early Benny Hill stuff survives and it was through a child's eyes that I watched (and loved) that material; I dare say it would look fairly tired today but, based on my own memories and comments by others, Hill was very original in what he did for TV in those early days. Possibly he was one of the first British comedians to specifically craft his act for television rather than just adapt a music hall/stage routine as many of his contemporaries did. Re Norman Wisdom, he was enormously popular in the fifties/early sixties and was undoubtedly very talented (some may still recall his incredible double act with Bruce Forsyth of all people, on a strike-hit Sunday Night at the London Palladium); again I loved his films as a child but they've not worn well and they now seem far too sentimental for today's cynical times.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Nov 2011 13:17:23 GMT
Last edited by the author on 29 Nov 2011 13:56:38 GMT
Lector says:
W.C, Regarding Spike Milligan, I think you'll find that a heck of a lot of his comedy over the years was what would now be called sexist and racist too. But his comedy was of course much varied. As for Benny, well he almost certainly couldn't have change his comedy. He wouldn't have wanted to though. I mean I don't think that he was very aware at all that he was increasingly being perceived as "old hat" and offensive, in particular with the new generation, and that his failure to change would affect his continued tv work right 'till the end. And so he had no reason (in his mind) to do so. Also, it has to be remembered that he was still getting pretty good t.v. audience figures and a tremendous amount of fan mail - which no doubt reinforced his illusions about himself. He was quite reclusive too and possibly just did not pick up on social change anyway. Adaption is a great part of survival in all aspects of life and some people never realise this, and therefore suffer the consequences - as in Benny Hill's case. However, having said all that, his humour still appealed to many people. And regarding "popularity", well it may well be no reccomendation to you (nor me in the case of Jonathon Ross, Graham Norton, Alan Carr, Jasper Carrott, Lenny Henry and a cart-full of others) but it obviously does count. After all mass popularity is often how we get to hear about these people in the first place, and how they get themselves spotted to do tv and radio etc. We might never hear about many of them otherwise. But why a does comedian's act have to be necessarily be "inventive". He/she only have to be funny, in whatever manner that works. But I emphasise, again, the increasing significance of politcs in our society (including humour), particularly since the huge social changes with regard to race and women's issues from about the mid-late sixties. The fact of the matter is, that with regard to human nature, we are not made (by nature, I don't believe in any gods) to laugh only at what is politically acceptable. That will only happen when/if we are all turned into robots. But I agree anyway with S.W, there, when he points out that Benny was known for being the first (or one of the first) comedians to adapt a stage act for television. Again, I think we underestimate the difference in generation humour.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Nov 2011 13:43:38 GMT
Last edited by the author on 29 Nov 2011 13:48:25 GMT
Lector says:
S.W, I agree with what you say there about Benny's material. As kids and young people, we (including me) were exposed (excuse - or not - the pun!) to and laughed at, his tv shows. And I dare say even now I would still find some of his humour really funny. But there is something else that needs to be born in mind here - and I don't think it's been mentioned yet - ( appologies if it has) but British society has had a quite special attitude to humour involving nudity. No doubt re. in China and the Middle East etc, it isn't the same. Now this has a great deal to do with the Christian religion's attitude to this, and how their views have been imposed on our societies over the years. As I've stated previously, people will always rebel against the imposition of values upon then, not least humour. It's been a gradual process of rebellion. Now there is another impostion which is political or politically correct. But we can see this changing too. I mean in the first wave of the so-called alternative comedians (of which many of the present ones are decended to a great extent by material and political standpoints) in the late 1970's/eraly 1980's, you would hardly ever hear of jokes about dwarfs, colour, disabled and even sexually (gendre) biased jokes. But for a few years now this has been creeping in (back in in some cases). I'm not saying this is necessarily for the better or necessarily to my tastes, but it illustrates that ultimately people (including comedians themselves)will not have their humour, whatever the nature of it, Benny Hill or Spike or whoever, no matter how offensive they might be perceived by whoever, shackled.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Nov 2011 02:38:23 GMT
Last edited by the author on 30 Nov 2011 10:40:01 GMT
brisomboy says:
Wilsons Child, Spike used Julia Breck for cheap laughs time and time again, more than you might think. As you said that you have trawled You Tube, try looking for Breck and you will see many examples of Spike's sexism. I'm currently watching the Benny Hill Annuals and he used scantily dressed females alot less than people seem to remember and never topless females unlike Spike. Oh and sorry I forgot if you are a popular comedian with the masses this must be a bad thing, afterall what would the masses know? Much better to be watched by a much smaller select audience like Monty Python's Flying Circus, keep the riff raff out! Or is this just snobbery rearing it's ugly head again! Your comments regarding Lee Evans is another good example of snobbery, insinuating people who find him great must be wrong as they do not match your own personal tastes. I'm not a fan of some of the comedy that you have listed as being to your taste, but I don't think myself superior because we have different tastes. The comment I made about having great comic timing is nothing like saying he is a millionaire and has a lot of money. I have seen plenty of bad comedians that are bad because they have poor comic timing. I expect a lot of Benny's early tv work has now been wiped, but when people like Bob Monkhouse, Mark Lewisohn and others that know a thing or two about comedy say that he was inventiveness, I have no reason to doubt them. You say that Benny never changed because he couldn't. I say why change when his show was still very popular right up until it was axed. One thing Benny never understood was why his show was axed when his shows made millions for Thames.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Nov 2011 13:06:31 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 1 Dec 2011 09:26:31 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Dec 2011 09:26:48 GMT
Mr S Hubbard says:
I actually have a dvd boxset containing sketches of The Benny Hill Show from the 1970s. I bought this having recalled how funny I found Benny Hill when I was a kid in the 1980s. The result of watching this boxset was mixed. Some of humour was no longer funny for me but at other parts I laughed harder than I do at most comedy which I do also like.
I think Benny Hill is a bit like Charlie Chapin - who happened to actually be a fan of Benny Hill - it is dated but was groundbreaking for its time. Not many people today roll around laughing at Chaplin today.
Then again not many people roll around laughing today. How many times does a good joke need to be told before its not funny anymore.
There is however a seriousness to much of Chaplin's work which people do still appreciate.
With Monty Python its a similar thing. We've all heard 'he's not the messiah, he's very naughty boy' over and over by now. However, there was an intellectual side to much of the work by Monty Python which makes many appreciate it not only for its laughability rating.
I for one like Benny Hill and Chaplin and Monty Python. I also like Spike Milligan's Q. I much prefer this to The Fast Show which already feels dated and which I never really enjoyed when it was the current sketch show.

Posted on 1 Dec 2011 10:23:17 GMT
Sou'Wester says:
One of the problems with Benny Hill is that many people only remember his 1970s shows with ITV. His TV career goes back much further than that to the early fifties when British television and TV comedy was very much in its infancy; it was during this period that he was an original and a pioneer.
I always thought it a pity he didn't do more films; remember his cameo role as the fireman in "Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines" and as the lecherous (for larger women) professor in "The Italian Job"?

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Dec 2011 10:40:14 GMT
gille liath says:
WOR and WLVI, eh? This is serious: those are two of my favourites...

Posted on 8 Dec 2011 15:01:45 GMT
Man of truth says:
Current Biography's 1983 article on Hill showing him to be funniest in UK is the best proof.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Dec 2011 22:30:31 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Dec 2011 22:47:55 GMT
Brisomboy at no point have I made any judgement about sexism or indeed any sort of ism if you would be so kind as to actually read my posts my point was that Benny Hill is simply not funny and I have waited to be convinced but so far no recommendations have come forward which leads me to the conclusion that there is no evidence. I think that if you are capable of climbing off your high horse you might just stop accusing me of casting insinuations that I have never made, or is this inverted snobbery? Actually I think Monkhouse was a genius as well but as you well know you can search for quotes from any source it doesn't necessarilly mean that it makes your argument any less fatuous. Popularity is in itself not a bad thing but the difference is when popularity is manufactured by the media and unthinkingly you except whatever rubbish is tipped down your throat without using your critical facilities,
"Most people would rather die than think; in fact, they do so": Bertrand Russell. Humour is classless raceless and sexless true humour uses common reference points in any society a common shared empathy and understanding, yes stereotypes are used but not for cruelties sake, unless you are a poor comedian (for that read Bernard Manning, excepting his timing of course but dismissing him as a bigot and not a very nice person to boot) but as a short hand, the fabulously rich vein of Jewish humour exploits this shorthand but does so in a way that is immeadiately understandable to everyone, Dario Fo is a classic example humour can be a weapon and a defence and stems from a power imbalance who cares who falls on his backside just so long as it is the pompous rich guy , Jaroslav Hasek as well Cervantes, Johnathon Swift, Laurence Sterne, comedy is only truly worth it when you have to think about it. BH played a lecherous old fart, high points in his career being described could easily have been played by any half decent actor. It is also the thing thing that pushes Monty Python so far out of his league you would need a telescopre to bridge the gap, the comments about snobbishness only underline the fact that there is still a rigid class structure and there is an underlying insecurity in all of us that somebody is doing us down. Please note I intentionally avoided 'one' and substituted 'Your' just in case I was accused of being a snob, Secondary School and Working Class origins, with no pride or delusions with no aspirations to either becoming middle class or a stereotype. Thank you very much.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Dec 2011 23:02:30 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Dec 2011 23:48:05 GMT
"They were extremely popular in authoritarian places like comunist Albania etc, for a reason. And it's because ultimately people don't like being told what to laugh at and what not to".
Just a clarification Lector surely the Authoritarian governments owned and ran the TV stations? A total state monopoly. So were they not telling people what to laugh at? something safe, something that would not rock the boat? Agreed Sex is a fairly safe constant and as one of those things we can all still be enjoyed without tax, at least all the non married individuals.
BTW Lector just noticed on another forum that you were an ex field archaeologist, glad to see someone else saw the light as in 'ex' did you ever work for those C~~~s, MAP?

Posted on 9 Dec 2011 05:15:08 GMT
Last edited by the author on 9 Dec 2011 13:27:47 GMT
Lector says:
W.C, Well sure, obviously those Communist State governments ruled the tv schedule content, but I just think that there are very appealling, universally appreciated fundamental elements to humour, which no matter what any State organisation decrees for entertainment policy, will always be perceived by the masses as funny anyway. In this context I think Benny Hill's and Norman Wisdom's larking-about acts etc are typical examples. It's not all particularly funny to me though. I'm not a huge fan of physical humour much anyway.

Re. Archaeology; No, never worked for MAP. I personally had the unfortunate scarring-for-life experience of working for some other "C~~~s", a certain little 'mad Mullah' type, who with his faithful assistant, (his wife, 'Igor') has for many years been 'running' (after a fashion) a local authority outfit on the south coast. You know the kind of set-up, I'm sure. They progressively and eventually ruined the job for me and others too. Glad to be out of it though. As you're probably aware, yourself, the public don't get to see on prog's like 'Team Team' some of the authoritarian-inclined, lazy, money-wasting obsessive nutters who run some of the archaeology units in the r-e-a-l world of archaeology!

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Dec 2011 08:18:36 GMT
Sou'Wester says:
You mean there are actually other people in archaeology worse than Tony Robinson??!

Posted on 9 Dec 2011 12:01:32 GMT
Last edited by the author on 9 Dec 2011 12:28:18 GMT
Lector says:
S.W, Yes! A heck of a l-o-t worse! But then Tony Robinson's not an archaeologist anyway. He's just someone who's er...playing with it really - if you get what I mean! ;-) I'll always remember when he came to town one time many years ago, to do a recce looking at potential project locations for the 'Time Team' series. His - what appeared to us to be - 'servants' (crew assistants or whatever they call 'em in the trade) seemed to be running around after him all day long uttering things like "Oh Tony, sweetie, can we get you a saucer for your mug?" and "Oh Tony, dear, can we get you a chair to rest in between shots?" and "You'll catch a cold, you naughty boy, if you don't put a coat on you know". Well, not far short of thsoe kinds of comments! A very camp world, it would seem to be, tv! Any way nothing came of it all in the end... But seriously, I musn't be too hard on ol' Antonio. He's shown a lot of interest in British archaeology over the last 25-30 years or so, and he's helped to promote and raise it's profile in all kinds of positive ways 'off-stage', so to speak. So full credit to him for that. I happen to think personally (for all his funny little ways) he's a pretty decent communicator really. And many professional archaeologists hate to admit this, but he's actually quite clued up on archaeological field work procedures now - even though letting him loose in a trench with a trowel and mattock might still be taking things a little too far! Oh and another thing, he must be doing something right to have pulled a bird like the one he's got! Or is it just the attraction of celebrity? Ah... Um...what is this Discussion subject supposed to be about again?! ;-)

Posted on 9 Dec 2011 12:10:38 GMT
Lector says:
Just had an idea! Tony Robinson would make a good slap-head character for any revival of a Benny Hill type of show! Cue end music!

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Dec 2011 12:37:27 GMT
gille liath says:
Look! It's a bit of Stone Age / Iron Age / Roman / Saxon / Elizabethan pot! Obviously that proves there was a medieval off-licence here, right next door to the estate agent's...

And he did used to be quite funny once upon a time, didn't he?

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Dec 2011 13:05:49 GMT
Last edited by the author on 9 Dec 2011 13:25:15 GMT
Lector says:
g.l, I can think of a few so-called professionals I've met in my time who have made that kind of mistake! And then there was the time when a colleague I once worked with, planted a frag' of modern earthenware pottery in the soil in an attempt to try to pass it off as medieval with the intention of tricking the in-house pottery expert. Oh dear, it worked! She fell for it hook line and sinker! Not a pleasant outcome when she discovered what had been done! You could say the 'soil' hit the fan! ;-)

Posted on 9 Dec 2011 13:35:05 GMT
Last edited by the author on 9 Dec 2011 13:38:55 GMT
Lector says:
Back to ol' Benny. He used to be a milkman 'round my way before he got into professional comedy. That would be way before my time, late '40's to early '50s I think. That sort of period. And as far as I've heard, he was known to have been be a very likeable bloke. And before anyone asks, I haven't got clue whether he a reputation for showdowns with bakers! ;-)

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Dec 2011 18:53:12 GMT
Last edited by the author on 9 Dec 2011 18:57:38 GMT
Well in a way I suppose it does all come down to personal taste but hey, that's all part of the absurdity of the human condition allthough I do agree about TR from reports from various colleagues sounds as though he is worth punching on suspicion alone, and so long as the slaps on the head are done with a hatchet I have no problem with him being on TV again. As for archaeology I made a reconstruction Neolithic pot and introduced it to BA layers worked a treat with a bit of application. I have attempted to disuade every bushy tailed new graduate or HNC grads as they are today that working in archaeology is not a good idea if they want a mortgage, pension family life, future how they intended paying off student debt on 16k pa 9.5 pro rata but after seeing a job advert our representative governing bodies bulletin seeking experienced diggers for Syria working just for food and shelter pay your own flight etc I fear that it will always stay the same, a 1920's career structure based on a Crapocracy. Oh the tales I could tell whole Roman Amphora and metal work raised by JCB on the east coast and the subsequent cover up. Ah happy days.
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