1/12/15

SPIKE MILLIGAN: 'I TOLD YOU I WAS ILL'



At the end of last year, I posted about a wonderful Sunday morning local LA radio show called "Cynics Choice", a show that introduced me (and I'm sure many many others) to the joys of subversive English humor, particularly of the mid-twentieth century. Above I've posted a wonderful documentary about arguably the most influential of all British comedians, Spike Milligan. Though to be honest, calling Milligan a comedian is a bit reductive. He was a writer, humorist, memoirist, and above all an innovator--an "out of the box" (dreadful term) thinker who changed the way all comedians thought about the boundries of their craft. That the humor of Sir Harry Lauder and Milligan crossed each other by only twenty years or so is quite incredible. Each was English and each were considered at the apex of their craft. There, however, the comparisons end with Lauder seemingly belonging to another era, one presided over by Queen Victoria. Milligan created 'The Goon Show', the direct link to Monty Python which, one way or another, it the direct link to all 21st century absurdity, English or non.

The title of the doc, "I Told You I Was Ill", refers to Milligan's extreme bi-polarism, which he was quite ahead of his time in speaking about frankly and often. He was also ahead of his time as an animal rights activist, vegetarian, anti-smoking crusader and more. The title is also what Milligan said he wanted printed on his tombstone. Just to give you a taste of his delightful morbidity, he expressed relief that his fellow Goon Show mate Harry Seacombe died before he did, saying "I was afraid he'd sing at my funeral."

 Subscribe in a reader

2 comments:

  1. "Each was English..." Hold it right there. Sir Harry was a Scot, and Sir Spike, though born in India, eventually held Irish citizenship.

    That said, you are making my year. I love the mid-century Brits and especially the Goons. If you could find and post a recording of "The Sleeping Prince" I would be forever in your debt.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Blimey you're of course correct. I think of each as "belonging to England" but one of the absurdities of Milligan's life was that England pronounced him "stateless". Thanks for the red flag.

    ReplyDelete