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Tony Grist

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Frankie Howerd- Rather You Than Me [Apr. 10th, 2008|10:08 am]
Tony Grist
David Walliams is a funny man in his own right and his reproduction of Frankie Howerd's comic schtick was well observed and well practised- and yet somehow his impersonation of Howerd in full flight was deathly. Oh my God, we laughed at this? We must have been puddled. Great comics are unique. Once they're gone, they're gone- and not even the most accurate mimicry will bring them back.

Otherwise this was a sweet play about two damaged men in love. Walliams was muted, apparently weighed down by the responsibilities of impersonation- and Rafe Spall as Howerd's lover/chauffeur/manager was lively and engaging. At times I wished the two actors had swapped roles.

Why were all the comics of that generation such wrecks? Is it something to do with the war? With the aftermath of war? With the profound social changes of the 50s and 60s? A theory is hovering- just out of reach- and I haven't been able to net it.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: serennos
2008-04-10 01:12 pm (UTC)
Oh my God, we laughed at this? We must have been puddled.
I saw the film 'Up Pompeii' recently for the first time and found it amusing to the point of laughter (and I was most certainly not puddled)!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-04-10 01:19 pm (UTC)
Ah, but that was the real Frankie Howerd- not someone pretending to him. Accept no substitutes!

Frankie himself was a true original- and seriously funny- but when some actor comes along and does an impression of him it just doesn't work the same.

Frankie's material was pretty weak- hardly funny in itself- but that's true of a lot of those guys- Tommy Cooper, Kenneth Williams, Les Dawson. It wasn't the jokes, it was they way they told 'em.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2008-04-10 01:36 pm (UTC)
I used to love "Up Pompeii", but as you say, it was Frankie Howerd who made it all work, double entendres and all.

Perhaps another actor/comedian could make it funny if they could be themselves and do it their own way, but the burden of trying to keep up the impression and make it funny was perhaps too much.

Not that I've seen any of this series. However from your comments and the review in the Radio Times, I don't think I've missed anything.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-04-10 02:23 pm (UTC)
I really liked the one about Hancock. Coincidentally- or not- this was the one in which the actors tried least hard to impersonate their famous originals.
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[User Picture]From: serennos
2008-04-10 08:48 pm (UTC)
Wise words - very true!
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