Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

The Religion Of The English

Judy and I were talking about the Marx Brothers and how a friend of hers had probably never heard of them. I was incredulous. Yeah, she continued, the Marxes are largely forgotten in America.

Hey, people, tell me it ain't so!

In Britain you're never more than five minutes away from the nearest Marx Brothers movie. We run them all the time. In 1940 we were kept going by Churchill's speechifying and Churchill was kept going by watching Marx Brothers movies in his bunker. Why, the Marxes more or less won the war for us.

And the Marxes begat Spike Milligan and Spike Milligan begat John Cleese and John Cleese begat Eddie Izzard.

Some Frenchman toured England in the 1920s and took stock of all the war memorials and concluded that the religion of the English was the worship of dead soldiers. He was wrong. The religion of the English is the worship of dead comedians.

Living ones too.

We don't know the ten commandments or the words to the national anthem, but every English person with an ounce of pride can recite The Dead Parrot Sketch.

When Norman Wisdom (slightly funny film comedian of the 1950s) announced his retirement at the age of 92 the news media reacted like the Queen Mother had died again.

We take our sense of humour terribly seriously. Secretly (in fact, not so secretly) we believe it's what makes us top nation. We are constantly having polls to discover our favourite comedian/sitcom/funny movie. And once a year we have this huge televised charity thing called Comic Relief where everybody puts on red plastic noses and does embarrassing things to raise money for starving Africans.

Another thing Judy said is that she'd never seen Sergeant Bilko. You what! Over here every sink comes fitted with three taps. One for hot and one for cold and one for the Phil Silvers Show.
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