Date With A Calendar
Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise duly reported for lunch. With a calendar.
Sid and Dick discuss food
Said Eric (the tall, specky one); “We brought it in case there are no dates on the menu…”
Eric has a gag for every situation. So does the calendar. It’s the Morecambe & Wise joke-jotter.
Explained Ernie (the short, fat one with allegedly hairy legs); “We use our calendar as a memo pad for joke and sketch ideas. Scribble them down beside the day’s date on the calendar. That way we can remember when we thought of it, why and what seemed funny at the time.”
“Sometimes we can’t remember. Then we hand the whole thing over to script writers Dick Hills and Sid Green and let them work it out.”
Said Eric: “When we can’t see the calendar any more for scribble, we know the opening date for another television series is near.”
The calendar is an entanglement of blue ink, scratch marks and hieroglyphics. In deed, a new series of The Morecambe and Wise Show starts on Saturday.
Mumbled Eric, munching on a crouton; “Oh yes, we get through a lot of calendars this way. But people send us a lot.”
What sort of things do this irrepressible pair write down? Any old subject they feel may be potentially funny. Then nine out of ten of their ideas can eventually be used.
Gin and tonic, for example. Said Eric; “That reminds us of dear old John and Tinic, a husband and wife double act we met in a village concert in Sixpenny Handley. A lovely girl was Tinic.”
Ernie: “Her voice could break a beer glass at 100 yards.”
Eric: “She just shouted ‘Drop it’.”
Eric: “Hey, you’re putting on a bit more weight, aren’t you…”
“You can talk. Look at your hair. Go on, turn your head upside down and look at it. It’s not exactly like The Walker Brothers is it? Hardly luxuriant, is it?”
“Well it’s not ‘fat’ is it?”
Or guard dogs, Eric decides he wants protection (“Yes and the people haven’t even seen the show yet”). He gets a guard dog. When Ernie turns up Eric warns; “Careful. Don’t come too near. Lay one finger on me and this dog will have your throat. Teeth like a saw. He’s been trained so just watch it.”
Then what happened?
Eric mournfully eyed his cottage pie. “Well, we haven’t quite got that worked out yet. Got the inspiration for that one while listening to ‘The Unfinished Symphony’. Hey, this cottage pie is great. You can taste the cottages.”
Then there is shaving.
Eric: “Do you know, I get my best ideas when I’m shaving?”
Ernie: “Then I’d wish you’d grow a beard.”
“All right, all right. At least it would grow on my chin and not on my legs.”
The conversation switched to a more serious subject, humour. Said Ernie; “We think ours is a human humour. We don’t make jokes. We just play slightly exaggerated versions of ourselves. I’m an idiot, Eric is a bigger one.”
“We work with our script writers, Sid and Dick. Using their ideas, our ideas and a mixture of both. They are action writers, rather than scriptwriters. They act out their ideas for us. At rehearsal we get into a sort of double double act. We were thinking of forming a barber’s shop quartet, but Eric get a bit touchy when you mention hair.”
They are not comedians who consciously study other people. Rather, they study each other.
Example. “I say, Eric, I was down at the labour exchange the other day, and who do you think I met?”
Corn? Said Eric: “When we are dreaming up ideas, one of us will suggest a corny bit and everyone heaves a big sigh and says ‘not that again’. But corn often turns out to be the basis of a new funny idea.”
“Take the original theme, twist it, and suddenly you have a great routine working for you. And sometimes the greatest gags are just reflex action.”
“I think I’ll go to Iceland for my holiday.”
“No. But there’s a bit of snow up there.”
“Well that’s snow joke is it?”
But rain or shine, see them on Saturday.
© TV Times 1966