I’ve been up replacing the fascias all day, so here’s a quick retro look at how the mail is sorted. And you thought your inbox was overwhelming.
“Can we get on with this please? I’ve got tickets to the opera, and I want to go the gym before I head for Covent Garden.”
“Okay, that was a lie. I’m going to sit on the sofa and binge watch Ben 10 whilst eating a whole block of brie.”
“Still sounds nice.”
“The point is, I have much better things to be doing that listening to another one of your inane pitches.”
“Well, it’s a drink.”
“Obviously. I didn’t think it was a bottle of cat piss.”
“It’s probably an acquired taste.”
“It certainly has a pungent quality, but that’s the unique selling point.”
“Smells like paraffin.”
“Right, so you only need a small splash in the bottom of the glass.”
“Oh right. Proper thirst quencher this then.”
“It’s a diuretic.”
“Perfect. I’m supposed to knock this back am I?”
“Or sip it. But be caref-”
“Fuck me. Might have warned me. That is foul.”
“It’s an acquired taste.”
“It burned my taste buds off.”
“But in a moment you’ll get a nice warm glow.”
“Nope. Just feeling the inside of my throat peeling off.”
“Can you not get that hint of peat?”
“Peat? I’m supposed to be tasting mud now? What the fuck are you pitching me?”
“A few more glasses and you’ll be happy as Larry.”
“Larry’s an idiot.”
“You need another really.”
“Just the right amount, and you’ll love it.”
“Just the right amount is none.”
“Well, admittedly, too much and you will get violent, then drowsy, then sick, then pass out.”
“Have you poisoned me? Are you trying to kill me and take my job? I knew you were plotting.”
“Yeah, it is a poison, but-”
“Any pitch for a new drink that includes the phrase ‘yeah, it is a poison, but-‘ can catch a bus to fuck off town.”
“This is disgusting.”
“It is a poison, but a measured dose feels great.”
“For how long?”
“Not that long. And over time, the accumulated effect of it makes you depressed.”
“I feel dizzy.”
“But here’s the thing. Depression just makes you want to drink more of it.”
“I love you.”
“You’ve hit that sweet spot.”
“Have I? Not sure if I want to punch you or throw up on you.”
“Best not have any more then.”
“Give me that.”
“Just a splash. Not that much.”
“Fuck you, I know what I want.”
“Fine. But perhaps you should go home.”
“What? So I can puke up brie all over my sofa.”
“I’m just saying.”
“Alone. Miserable. Take that face off you prick. Judging me.”
“I’m going to go.”
“What’s this stuff made of anyway?”
“Pass me that bin.”
It occurred to me the other day that the iconic Smith & Jones head to heads are all shot in one continuous take. Some of them run for five plus minutes. It’s clear they were pre-recorded and shown to the audience, but still, doing these as one shot takes some doing.
I still think this dynamic is a great comedy trope. Two idiots talking to one another, one who knows everything, and one who knows nothing. I didn’t realise these head to heads were born out of a series of radio commercials Smith & Jones had made. They later went on to make some TV ones, this time for Cadbury’s Wispa.
And I’ll tell you something else I didn’t know before today – the duo made two series for LWT, in between shows for the BBC. It was called The World According To Smith & Jones.
The pair used old movie clips to explore the history of the world, and find the meaning of life. Like the BBC show, this one has never had a full commercial release. That’s a large body of brilliant comedy work that isn’t available anywhere, and it’s a shame.
Also not available is the short run of comedy plays they made in 1989, In Small Doses, two of which were written by Graeme Garden, and Anthony Minghella.
The links from French & Saunders part of the Comedy Zone, a curated strand of their favourite comedies.
Yesterday we had a look at The Entertainers briefly. Today, let’s explore another episode which introduced television viewers to Fundation. Fundation was a comedy troupe consisting of Gareth Hale and Norman Pace, Terry Morrison, Joe Griffiths, and Victy Silver.
It’s possible that this appearance lead to a Radio 4 show called Don’t Stop Now – It’s Fundation, which ran for three series between December of 1983 and August of 1986, but I don’t know the actual timings of this.
Norman Pace is particularly remarkable in this sequence, don’t you think?
Take a look at the full album on Flickr of the troupe’s time at The Tram Shed.
Hale and Pace went on to have their own show on LWT of course, starting in 1988 after a successful Christmas special in 1986. It’s a show that seems to get overlooked a bit too much really.