I have been immersing myself since this summer in British comedy, mostly vintage, but not exclusively. Some of it has come via trips to England, some via Ebay, some via friends (thanks Brad! and James). It's odd how much of this is resurrected from my teens. Why is that someone raised in Mid-Michigan was exposed to so much British comedy? Curious, eh?
I can't recall for sure the exact order of things. I know that around the same time our local PBS channel at MSU was showing Monty Python, their sister NPR station was playing not only the Goon Show but also I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again. Just about the time I had got hooked on the shows, they also began to broadcast The Goodies. Then there was finding A Poke in the Eye with a Sharp Stick (probably in Wazoo Records or FBC in East Lansing), the first of many Amnesty International comedy benefits. This introduced me at last to the genius that is Peter Cook.
Well, I think that was the chain. It all seemed to happen at once. Maybe I actually found the Beyond the Fringe LPs before that. I can't really tell anymore. As Gene has noted recently, when I get obsessed with something (or re-obsessed in this case), I go all out. Between the long awaited release of many of these shows on DVD and the wonders of the internet in making available recordings no longer available (thank to things like the BBC wiping tapes -- ayiiii!), I am reveling once more in this terrific comedy. Things I never thought I'd see, like At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set have actually been released here (and yes, I have them).
Best of all? The humor stands the test of time. While the occasional timely joke falls flat, most of the humor remains fairly timeless. Unfortunately, there will always be pompous idiots, craven politicians, misguided wars and hypocrites. And perhaps, too, there will always be some kind of C. P. Snow, ravens who must be taught to swim and, somewhere warm, four Yorkshiremen who reflect on life as it used to be.