“Tatty Bye, Doddy! Tatty Bye!”
In a strange quirk of fate, within a matter of days the world said “Goodbye” to two people, both famous in entirely different fields.
Sir Ken Dodd and Professor Stephen Hawking.
Stephen Hawking was an expert on the concept of time, while anyone who’s seen Ken Dodd ‘live’ will know he had absolutely no concept of time!
Ken’s career took him from Liverpool workingmen’s clubs to the London Palladium, where he enjoyed several long runs, starting with his legendary 1965 season when he performed two shows a night, six nights a week – and squeezed in a matinee on Saturdays!
Although famous for his ‘Tickling Stick’; surreal comedy; and the invention of words like ‘Tattyfilarious’ and ‘Plumptiousness’, he took his comedy very seriously.
Around the walls of his study at home in Knotty Ash, were 50,000 books on humour, many written by great philosophers.
He had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, on a continual quest to crack the secret of what makes us react to hearing a random series of words delivered in a certain order (i.e. a joke) with laughter.
Personally, I think he’d already learned that secret years ago, but he never stopped trying to hone his already impressive comic skills and would keep a record of what jokes worked best in different parts of the country.
Even when he became established as one of our greatest comedians, he never took his success for granted, comparing his occupation with that of a gladiator.
“You buckle on your sword, take on an audience and must win them over in the first 30 seconds. After the “Hello!” gags, come the topicals, followed by the surreal stuff. Eventually, you can say whatever comes into your head”.
He believed that anger, despair and depression are the enemy of jokers and that his job was to dispel those thoughts.
It was a job he did magnificently for 60 years.
And let us not forget Jim Bowen who also died last week.
Jim livened-up Sunday teatime for millions of us.
When he stood outside the pearly gates, did Saint Peter hand him a harp and say, “This is yours, Jim”, then point to a speedboat and say, “But look at what you could have won!”