Britain's Most Loved and Best Comedy Double Act

Ed Sullivan Appearences

Feature from 2011


Stool problems
24th May 1964 – Segment 1

The battle of Waterloo on a table top. This forms the basis for this routine, with Eric proudly stating it had taken him 15 years to build the whole battle field in perfect detail. Ranks of solders face off across the miniature landscape as Ernie begins picking things up like trees and soldiers much Eric’s annoyance. This would have got a laugh in the UK, but the US raise only a titter.

Eric’s gag about teaching trees not to grow big by continually thumbing them again raised a slight titter from the audience, not sure where the routine is heading.

They both then begin the mock battle with Eric (Wellington) carefully advancing a line of troops and flicking over a few enemy soldiers. Ernie (Napoleon) fires off a volley of machine gun fire, decimating ranks of Eric’s men. This raised a small laugh as he explains; “Machine guns!”

After telling him machine guns didn’t exist in that time, Eric take his next, careful move, advancing a few more soldiers towards Ernie’s line. Ernie brings his hand up and begins to make aeroplane noises; the audience have finally caught on and the laughs get louder as Ernie dive bombs Eric’s lines and wipes out nearly all of his troops.

After Eric’s next tentative move Ernie swipes away all of Eric’s soldiers by thumbing the battle ground claiming a heard of stampeding elephants. Ernie seems to be enjoying this sketch; several times he almost laughs himself.

An earlier setup pays off as Eric is left with a single soldier. Ernie, pretending to be Napoleon, pulls his hand out of his jacket holding a hammer. Leans over and smashes the lone figure. “No you know why Napoleon had his hand in his jacket!”

The payoff gets a big laugh – at last.

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24th May 1964 – Segment 2
The second segment is a musical number entitled ‘Swinging Down The Lane’. Eric and Ernie in front of curtains go into the routine, stood next to two stools. As the song begins, Eric discovers his hand stuck to the stool top. The rest of the routine is based on getting the top (now detached from the legs) off of Eric’s hand.

Slight titters at this, but once the stool has gone, Eric’s hand sticks to Ernie’s shoulder which gets a decent laugh. They struggle on through the song that ends with light applause.

This is a much shorter routine with few laughs (at least for the US audience) and ends with Ed Sullivan saying; in the most fake way; “From one of the great TV shows in England – and you can understand why - they are so darned charming!”

I don’t think the audience believed him!

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© 2011

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