Any comic or sit-com actor will tell you that catch phrases can’t really be planned – they just take off and work their way into the psyche of the audience.
The other characteristic of a catch-phrase is their longevity. A case in point happened today when I was walking through an office reception and heard a rather plummy female voice utter the phrase ‘Oh you are awful !’
Cut to 1979 and the now virtually forgotten comedian Dick Emery who had a vast array of characters in his then iconic Saturday evening comedy show. One of those characters a young lady called Mandy found herself subject to frequent end of the pier double entendre and always responded ‘Oh you are awful … but I like you!’ – Followed by a swift left hand shove.
Instantly I heard the comment in the reception area I mentally finished the punch line, even though I hadn’t heard it for at least 30 years and was a young child at the time.
Then I began to wonder why Dick Emery had been erased from British Comedy? Others such as Tommy Cooper, Frankie Howerd and the like are held up as major comic influences on others. Considering some of his material it certainly wouldn’t be considered PC but its certainly harmless.
The clips above show a range of the characters Emery created. Now although not rip-roaringly funny in this compilation, some of his work was ground-breaking. He was one of the only commedians in the 1970’s and 80’s to feature an openly gay (and yes camp) man – but one who was clearly enjoying all aspects of gay life. Something we rarely see even today.
So today I found myself saying thank you Dick Emery for making me laugh as a child and for raising a smile some 30+ years later. That has to be some record I’m sure.