These days so many of us watch or have to watch people with little talent on a Saturday night trying to sing, dance or make us laugh. It wasn’t so long ago that our Saturday evenings were spent watching people with actual talent. Many of them could sing, dance, act and make us laugh. Few were any more capable or loved than Ronnie Corbett who died today at the age of 85.
Ronnie Corbett was only 5 feet tall but he was something of a comedy giant. Often forgotten that he was originally a successful actor, he appeared in a number of popular comedy shows in the 1960’s before combining with his namesake Ronnie Barket to headline the legendary Two Ronnies TV show that ran throughout the 1970’s and 80’s.
Even though I wasn’t born until well into the 1970’s, I distinctly remember laughing away at many of the classic scenes. Each show was started and finished with sketches featuring fake news headlines, there was usually a dance and musical act as well as a variety of clever sketches and ongoing serials.
The Two Ronnies were never rude though they had their share of double entendre’s. They were both masters of the English language and had a special talent for wordplay and particularly sketches where the conversations are out of sync with each other such as having two people in neighbouring telephone booths speaking different but apparently linked conversations.
Ronnie Corbett would always tell an extremely long monologue in which he would get diverted time after time before getting to the punchline in a style that neither today’s comedians could deliver or indeed todays audiences tolerate the wait for the punch line.
Ronnie was also the star of his own sitcom called Sorry! The story of a frustrated Librarian named Timothy who still lives with his parents in his early 40’s whilst suffering under his domineering mother. One of the catchphrases of this show was “Language Timothy” when his father would chastise Timothy as if he had said something awfully rude which of course he hadn’t. A feature of just how loved and how influential Ronnie’s career has been was brought up today by the LibDem political leader, Tim Farron who in his tribute mentioned how when he speaks in Parliament that he is frequently told “Language Timothy”.
One of the features of Ronnie Corbett was how short he was, only 5 feet tall, but he was always very happy to make jokes up about himself such as having an accident whilst playing golf when he fell down a divot or mentioning his middle name being Goliath.
He was also a keen supporter of modern comedians and was highly influential in just about all the big names today and he worked with many of them right up to the last year or so.
It would be entirely impossible to do justice to a lifetime of gags and amusingly attired characters but below are some great one-liners and videos that will give you an idea of what he was like or indeed remind you of all the good laughs we had watching Ronnie Corbett.
- “French wine growers fear that this year’s vintage may be entirely spoiled due to the grape treaders’ sit-in.”
- “A cement mixer collided with a prison van on the Kingston by-pass. Motorists are asked to be on the look-out for 16 hardened criminals.”
- “We will be talking to an out of work contortionist who says he can no longer make ends meet.”
- “All those who believe in psychokinesis raise my right hand.”
- “This is a message for seven honeymoon couples in a hotel in Peebles: Breakfast was served three days ago.”
- “A man was marooned on a desert island. One day a beautiful woman arrives in a wet suit. ‘When did you last have a smoke?’ she asks. ‘Five years ago.’ So she gets out a cigar and he smokes it. She unzips her wet suit a bit and says, ‘When did you last have a drink?’ He said, ‘Five years ago.’ So she gets out a bottle of Scotch and he has a drink. Then she unzips her wet suit a bit more and says, ‘And when was the last time you played around?’ He looks at her in amazement and says: ‘You’re not telling me you’ve got a set of golf clubs in there?”‘
- “It was revealed in a government survey published today that the Prime Minister is doing the work of two men, Laurel and Hardy.”
- “There was a fire at the main Inland Revenue office in London today, but it was put out before any serious good was done.”
- “West Mersea police announced tonight that they wish to interview a man wearing high heels and frilly knickers, but the Chief Constable said they must wear their normal uniforms.”
- “We’ll be talking to a car designer who’s crossed a Toyota with Quasimodo and come up with the Hatchback of Notre Dame.”
- “After a series of crimes in the Glasgow area, Chief Inspector McTavish has announced that he is looking for a man with one eye. If he doesn’t find him, he’s going to use both eyes.”
- “A juggernaut of onions has shed its load all over the M1. Motorists are advised to find a hard shoulder to cry on.”
- “We’ve just heard that in the English Channel, a ship carrying red paint has collided with a ship carrying purple paint. It is believed that both crews have been marooned.”
- “If I wear too much tartan I tend to look like a Thermos flask.”
It is rumoured that the publishers have recalled the long-awaited book on the history of Sellotape. Apparently, no one can find the beginning.
Complaints were made following the annual chefs’ fancy dress ball last night. A woman dressed only in gooseberries and cream made an improper suggestion to a man dressed in cake and sherry. She made a proper fool of herself and he got a trifle excited.
A grandfather has gone missing after eating four cans of baked beans, two cauliflowers and a jar of gherkins. His family have made an emotional appeal for him not to come home for at least a fortnight.
Ron Knuckles was buried today at a service attended by the criminal underworld. As a mark of respect, the ceremony ended with two minutes’ violence.
Tonight, we’ll be out and about with the Bishop of Bath and Wells to see him consecrate a swimming pool, bless three wells, confirm a bidet and christen a low-level suite.
In Sopforth today, the funeral of Britain’s most successful door-to-door salesman was called off because every time they tried to close the coffin lid, he jammed his foot in it.
Mr Wally Turdham has again won the most amorous milkman of the year award. Apparently, he’s so popular with his lady customers that he’s started leaving notes on their doorsteps saying: ‘None today, thank you.’
The president of the Society Of People Who Like Eating Rotten Food said today that their annual picnic had been a tremendous success, with everything going off really well.
We have heard today that Britain’s most absent-minded man received a nasty bump on the head after he dashed upstairs and realised he’d forgotten something. He’d forgotten he lived in a bungalow.
I was going to open a restaurant with topless waitresses — but was put off by the overheads.
A man from Dagenham has named his son TGF 308F. He said he may not be rich but when he eventually leaves his son his Ford Mondeo, at least he’ll have his own personalised number plate.
As a young man, I danced several leads for the Hibernian and Strathclyde Amateur Bowls and Ballet Society, until an unfortunate incident with a rather restrictive jock strap put an end to a promising career. I went from Sugarplum Fairy to Nutcracker in one ill-judged leap.
There has been some good news for the burglar who fell inside a combine harvester while on the run last week. His family said he’ll soon be out on bale.
The sad news is that the funeral took place today of Mr Spenser P. Dobson, a famous compiler of crossword puzzles. After a short service, he was buried 6 down and 3 across.
The BBC canteen has seen better days. These days, they’re having to resort to cheap gimmicks to drum up trade. Their recent one was three curries for the price of one … so you got a good run for your money.
There was a chap who is interested in the concept of psychic phenomena — the concept where one day you suddenly hear from a guy who died 20 years ago. You know, a bit like second-class mail.
Heard the one about the car designer who crossed a Toyota with Quasimodo? He came up with The Hatchback of Notre Dame!
Milk bottles were thrown at a meeting of the Milk Marketing Board today. A meeting of the Egg Marketing Board was also broken up when eggs were thrown. A mass meeting of the Manure Marketing Board has been cancelled.
A cement mixer has collided with a prison van. Motorists are asked to look out for 16 hardened criminals.
We’ve just heard a juggernaut of onions has shed its load all over the M1. Motorists are advised to find a hard shoulder to cry on.
One of the weathermen has just become a father. The baby is said to be fine, with occasional drizzle later in the day.
The first school I ever went to was a pretty soft school. At St Pansy’s Primary, you could have a reign of terror with a balloon on a stick while we were paying protection money to the Brownies.
After a series of crimes in the Glasgow area, Chief Inspector McTavish has announced that he’s looking for a man with one eye. If he doesn’t find him, he’s going to use both eyes.
And now a message from the police in Finchley. There’s bad news about the two rabbits stolen from Peter’s Petshop. Only 14 have so far been recovered.
Police announced tonight that they wish to interview a man wearing high heels and frilly knickers — but the chief constable said they must wear their normal uniforms.
A ship carrying red paint collided with another one carrying purple paint. Both crews are thought to be marooned!
My great-grandfather was killed at Custer’s Last Stand. He didn’t take part in any fighting, he was camping nearby and went over to complain about the noise.
There was a fire at the Inland Revenue office in London, but it was put out before any serious good was done.
The world’s ugliest man died today. Now, he’s lying in a state.
In Hounslow this evening, a mad dog bit an income tax inspector. After being given injections and treatment for shock, the dog has been allowed to go home.
George Trimble, Blackpool’s longest-serving deckchair attendant, was better tonight after collapsing at work. It took five people 40 minutes to work out how to get him up again.
The true state of the country’s finances was revealed today when the Bank of England announced a closing down sale.
The Prime Minister said today that the state of the economy was in no way connected to the arrest this morning on Dover beach of a large group of illegal immigrants who were trying to leave the country.
In the world short-sighted table tennis championships, Mr and Mrs Harold Johnson won the women’s doubles.
Earlier today at the Old Bailey, Jim Spriggs, the world’s greatest confidence trickster, sentenced the judge to five years’ hard labour.
Comfortable in hospital tonight is the man who heeded the warning of the Ministry of Transport to wear something white at night. He went out dressed in a white hat, white shoes and white trousers and was run over by a snow plough.
The world’s greatest jigsaw puzzle designer was divorced today after his wife found he was keeping a piece on the side.
A man who swallowed £5 worth of pennies was rushed to Southend hospital yesterday. Doctors say he spent a quiet night and 43p. They don’t expect any change tomorrow.
News of an unfortunate incident at a circus in York this evening: the management took action against the human cannonball and fired him. They said his act was over the heads of the audience.
I’m thinking of buying a racehorse. I’ll be a bit of a novelty. I’ll be the only man who has to stand on tiptoe to talk to the jockey.
Nobody ever writes to me. I get letters from my mother addressed ‘To whom it may concern’.
Finally one joke in particular that I remember laughing at at a little boy, particularly funny for me as my Grandparents were from the town of Workington.
Thieves have broken in to Workington Police Station and stolen all the toilet seats. Police say say they have absolutely nothing to go on 🙂