Sunday, 10 October 2010

Norman Wisdom: not big, clever or funny

So Norman Wisdom has kicked the bucket, and judging by his previous performances, was probably carrying a ginormous cake, which would surely land on top of, the butt of the majority of his "high" jinx, the poor Mr Grimsdale, as a final act of disrespect on his way to join the great cabaret in the sky. 

Now I have nothing against the old boy of British comedy, apart from him being possibly the most un-funniest man to ever grace film, TV, the stage, fuck it - the earth. But as the news broke rent-a-quote talking heads were falling over themselves to praise him, claiming him to be the second-coming. He wasn't the second coming, he was a very unfunny man whose one joke was that he fell down... a lot. 

We've got to remember that these were hard times for the British nation. Rationing was still in place following World War II, and an average family of four had to survive on as little as 7 jokes or 20 puns at week. This is the same quoter that Wisdom had to use in his films.

Perhaps its down to the fact that I never saw him in the prime. All I really knew of Norman Wisdom was him making an unfunny twat of himself on Pebble Mill or Aspel - looking confused and falling down a lot, which wasn't actually an act at all - that's what happens when old age sets in. So to judge him on the previous work I checked youtube and yep, he's not funny on there either.   

It's true that comedy doesn't always stand the test of time. Steptoe and Son for instance, was a show my Dad loved and one that I was forced to watch growing up. Despite it not tickling my funny bone, I could still see the quality of the performances, the stoylines and, every now and again, the odd joke or two, but Dad even admitted it hadn't aged well.

A comedian who aged like a fine wine and not like an opened bottle of coke is the fanastic Phil Silvers AKA Sgt. Bilko. This guy wrote the book and laid the foundations of character-led sitcoms for years to come. He's like the Shakespeare and Sgt Bilko was his Hamlet. This is who I judge comedians of that era against and Wisdom isn't fit to suck the shit from the tread of Silvers' shoes. 

Wisdom isn't a man to be lorded over as a comedic genius, not even as a jobbing comedian.

He was a man lucky to be born when he was. If he was making his way in the industry today, he wouldn't even get on the panel of Argumental. 

Oh, he was also a tax-dodger of the highest standard.  

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