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Tony Grist

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The Religion Of The English [Mar. 8th, 2005|09:56 am]
Tony Grist
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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Comments:
[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-03-08 05:29 am (UTC)
Yes, the Marx Brothers aren't much mentioned anymore.

Did you happen to see the I Love Lucy episode in which Harpo, after playing his harp, did a mirror imitation gag with Lucy? It's probably the only time I ever noticed Harpo.

I wish I knew more about British comedy. We love Monte Python...and Mr. Bean (I love his rubber face.)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-08 06:11 am (UTC)
I saw Lucy when I was a kid, but she hasn't been aired much recently. That mirror gag features in one of the Marx Bros movies, I think, with either Chico or Harpo wearing Groucho's make-up and serving as his "reflection".

The best(or at least the most original)Brit comedy of recent years is The Office. And the current smash hit is a sketch show called Little Britain.

Might they be available to you on DVD?
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-03-08 06:24 am (UTC)
Why, I bet they are.

I love Netflix.

(Last week I wept over Grave of the Fireflies, an animation from Japan about what war does to small children. It was a powerful movie, and I'm still haunted by it.)




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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-08 06:43 am (UTC)
We've got Grave of the Fireflies on our wanted list. Thing is our wanted list has about 120 titles on it, so it could be some time before the Fireflies turn up.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-03-08 06:49 am (UTC)
Grave of the Fireflies is a beautifully done animation, but I should warn you that it is very sad.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-08 06:51 am (UTC)
Ah, but I like sad.
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[User Picture]From: four_thorns
2005-03-08 09:44 am (UTC)
yes, but grave of the fireflies isn't just sad, it's one of the most depressing movies i've ever seen. the whole movie is a slow steady decline towards death, with no positive occurrances or dramatic arc of any kind (and i don't feel i'm giving anything away by saying that they die, as they die in the first scene and the rest of the movie is a flashback). it's hard for me to take grave of the fireflies seriously, because it is unrelentingly sad to the point that it seems unreal. what i did find interesting about it was seeing how the americans were portrayed by the japanese, how all the suffering is a result of the "american aggressor".

but then, i saw it five years ago when i was in high school, so maybe i'd react differently now.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-08 12:24 pm (UTC)
It's about the aftermath of the atom bombing of Japan, right?

It's somewhere near the top of the list of movies we're hiring from Tesco, so I guess we'll be able to form an opinion of it soon.
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[User Picture]From: four_thorns
2005-03-08 12:58 pm (UTC)
there's nothing-- if i recall correctly-- about the atom bombs. but air raids and firebombing feature prevalently, along with the general conditions of a community at war.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-08 01:06 pm (UTC)
OK. We remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but I believe the conventional bombing of Tokyo caused a comparable loss of life.
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[User Picture]From: four_thorns
2005-03-08 01:47 pm (UTC)
yes, i think that's right...
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2005-03-08 10:36 am (UTC)
Sad to say...*we* are coming out with a version of The Office. And it's available on BBC America...which is not available in MY area.

I keep trying to give up television. Really. Then...the CLassic Movie channel shows something I really want to see. 'Lady From Shanghai' is on this Saturday night. (Thought of you, Tony, when I read that.)

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-08 12:15 pm (UTC)
The Office is as close to perfect as anything can be. It's a pity you guys felt you had to make your own version.

Lady From Shanghai- Mmmmmm!
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