John Cleese recently reunited with the cast of Fawlty Towers in order to promote two documentaries about the sitcom which is now 30 years old. But he said that people wanting to learn to be a comedian or comedy writer didn’t put in as much hard work as they did back in the 1970s. He criticised the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a wealth of talent any more.
What I always find interesting is when people talk about a “Golden Age of Comedy” as if everything that was produced was pure comedy gold. It’s just utter nonsense. For every piece of comedy gold like “Fawlty Towers” or “Porridge” from the 70s (the so-called Golden Age) there’s comedy dirge in the shape of “Please Sir” or “On the Buses”. Comments like this don’t really help up-and-coming talent, it won’t light a fire on anyone wanting to learn to be a comedian.
Yes, I am expressing my own subjective opinion and some readers may enjoy those programmes that I’ve listed, but I don’t really think they’ve stood the test of time.
Cleese’s Two Comedy Show Exceptions
Cleese also said that there are no good comedy programmes on British television these days, in the last Noughties as I write this. He cited The Office and Extras good examples, but admitted to having only collectively watched 4 episodes. But like with any decade there’s comedy gold as well as comedy dross. For every Peep Show or Extras we get My Family.
If he’s that concerned about it why not write a new comedy show for television to show us how it’s all done? His time would be better spent doing that, I think, than getting involved with Laughter Yoga only.
As for working hard? I’m not sure. The shows are being produced and garnering awards and attracting audiences and selling DVDs so somebody somewhere must be doing something right surely?
Work Hard, Work Smart or Both?
Perhaps people learning how to be comedians or comedy writers are putting in hard work, but maybe they’re also working smarter? These days we don’t have to rely upon writing dozens and dozens of jokes in the hope of finding good ones. We can capture our sense of humour and write comedy in bulk. From the perspective of a comedian or a humorist this then gets refined in front of live audiences. But the process of creating the material in the first place is easier.
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To read the full interview click here Fawlty Towers reunion.
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