Odd this day

Coates
3 min readMar 23, 2023

Ah, happy it-would-have-been-your 88th birthday, Barry Cryer. That means it must be time to trot out once again one of the greatest anecdotes ever told — about writing for Ronnie Corbett with Graham Chapman:

Joe McGrath: If you’re working with somebody that you’re in sympathy with, if you do come up with a funny line you can laugh for 20 minutes. Barry Cryer: Oh yes. And you do the great unusables as well, if it’s a dreary afternoon. Graham and I used to write: ‘It’s morning. We discover Ronnie wanking.’ And we’d laugh for about half an hour at the idea.

It’s from this rather fine book, and you’ve probably heard it before, but I suggest there’s never a bad time to be reminded of it.

Front cover: Now That’s Funny, Writers on Writing Comedy by David Bradbury and Joe McGrath

When Arthur Smith reviewed the book when it first came out, he said

One wonders how the face of British comedy would have changed if this sketch had somehow made it into The Two Ronnies.

He also said:

if you’re a young writer … you’ll learn nothing worth knowing from this book. You will have a good laugh, though

…and it’s on those grounds that I would recommend it.

But back to the matter in hand: my gratitude for being on the same planet for some of the same time as Barry Cryer:

A man walks into a pub and the landlord’s astonished. Half of the man’s head is half of a huge orange. “So sorry to be nosy,” the landlord says, “but why is half of your head half of a huge orange?”

“Well, I was cleaning up the loft”, the man says. “And I found an old lamp. I polished it up, and a genie came swooping out of it, saying, ‘May I grant you any three wishes, master?’

So I said, ‘I’d like to have a million pounds — and every time I take the million pounds out of my pocket, another million appears there.’

The genie said, ‘Your wish is granted. And your second wish?’ I said, ‘I’d like a big house with 100 beautiful ladies in it.’ ‘Your wish is granted’, says the genie. ‘And your third wish?’

‘I’d like half my head to be half of a huge orange.’”

Also:

Bloke gets some LSD tablets and leaves them on the kitchen table. When he gets back, they’re gone. He asks his mother, ‘have you seen my tablets?’

‘Sod your tablets,’ says his mother, ‘there’s a dragon on the shed.’

…and, from the Uxbridge English Dictionary:

Polaroids: unpleasant ailment in Arctic conditions.

Plus:

Picasso was burgled and did a drawing of the robbers. Police arrested a horse and two sardines.

And:

A man and his wife are out walking one day when they spot a lone fellow on the other side of the road. “That looks like the Archbishop of Canterbury over there,” says the woman. “Go and see if it is.” The husband crosses the road and asks the man if he is indeed the Archbishop of Canterbury. “Fuck off,” says the man. The husband crosses back to his wife, who asks, “What did he say? Is he the Archbishop of Canterbury?” “He told me to f uck off,” says the husband.

“Oh no,” replies the wife, “Now we’ll never know.”

…and all this is without even sharing The Ultimate Parrot Joke.

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Coates

Purveyor of niche drivel; marker of odd anniversaries