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Happy 83rd Birthday Marty Feldman

July 8, 2016


Yes.  Marty Feldman would have been 83 years old today.   So we should all (re)watch his superlative “beast in the basket” sketch because this sketch contains the funniest line in any sketch ever.

Let’s just watch this together shall we?  And all of the nastiness and stupidity of contemporary politics will just float away… at least for a while.  We can’t be meditating of vicious idiocy all the time, now can we?  We’ll go mad.  Let the balletic and exquisitely timed fertile madness of Marty Feldman give us some salutary respite from the clumsy political madness around us.  It will be very good for us.

Marty Feldman also co-wrote the famous Frost Report“Class” sketch which starred Ronnies Corbett and Barker and John Cleese as well as co-writing the first version of the “Four Yorkshiremen” sketch – before appearing in the decisive Ur-Python At Last the 1948 Show.  Oh, and he co-wrote much of the very wonderful 1967 bookshop sketch which remains one of John Cleese’s very favourite TV sketches of all time.

Feldman formed part of the basic soup out of which Monty Python emerged.  If different people had knocked on different doors on different days of the week in 1969 then he (or Tim Brooke Taylor) might have been a Python.  Then in the 1970s Mel Brooks found him and cast him to great effect in Young Frankenstein and Silent Movie.  He also testified at the 1971 Oz trial, that bizarre moment when it seemed that the whole so called “permissive society” found itself in court.

Marty Feldman was responsible for at least six or seven of the occasions in my life when I’ve laughed loudest – when I’ve fallen out of my chair, pounded the carpet, and clutched my chest because the laughter was starting to actually hurt.

Let me commend to you also Norma Clarke’s recent biography of Oliver Goldsmith – Goldsmith –  who articulated the value of laughing out loud comedy as its own therapeutic norm of value better than anyone else.  Laughter is its own morality, at least from a medical point of view, argued Dr Goldsmith (1773) – because uninhibited laughter is incompatible with narrowness and spite.

It’s a nice idea that probably isn’t true but which is definitely worth trying.


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