It was probably in my Grandparent’s living room that I was first exposed to characters that made my Dad laugh. And it’s my Dad’s laugh that I’ve inherited – a distinct, belly laugh that travels quite a distance and is usually triggered by comedy of a ‘rude nature’.
It was probably Dick Emery that got me started. Or Sid James in a ‘Carry On…’ movie.
But I especially enjoy the risk taken by a comedian when he takes the persona on ‘in real life’. My buddy Chris Tabish created a hillbilly character called ‘Horry Moates’ and performed his routine on stage at The Purple Onion, San Francisco – and it was surprisingly convincing, and funny.
Taking it a stage further, comedian Paul Kaye created the character of Dennis Pennis, who’s intent was to fire a question at celebrities. This was my favourite, targeted at Demi Moore: “If it wasn’t gratuitous in any way and it was tastefully done, would you consider keeping your clothes on in a movie?”
Nothing offensive, unless of course such things easily offend.
In a similar way, actress Caroline Ahern created a character to tell the jokes she wanted – Mrs Merton. As a seemingly sweet old lady, she would quietly ambush a celebrity in a sofa style interview. To Debbie Mcgee, who was married to TV magician Paul Daniels, she famously asked, “So, what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?
This idea of preparing a one-liner ahead of time, and delivering it when you get the opportunity may well come in handy in the future.