Words by Ed King
On Saturday 11th February, The Goon Show comes to mac’s Foyle Studio – presenting two performances of the legendary radio show in front of a live audience.
The Goon Show’s first performance at mac is from 2:30pm, with a later and final show from 7:30pm. Tickets are priced at £15 – as presented by Fred Theatre and Birmingham Comedy Festival. For direct event info, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.
Cheery picking two plays from Series 6, The Goons will be acting out the dastardly deeds found in The House of Teeth and The Jet-Propelled Guided NAAFI – the first a ghoolish plan for stardom and some false teeth castanets, the second a government misappropriation turned crumpet firing war machine. So pretty standard Goon stuff.
Performed by Fred Theatre, The Goons on Show this time around are Richard Usher as Peter Sellers, Mark Earby as Spike Milligan, and Stephan Bessant as Harry Secombe, aided by Phil Hemming as Wallace Greenslade/The Announcer. Following a sell-out debut at the Birmingham Comedy Festival in 2014, Fred Theatre’s The Goon Show is being presented at selected venues across the Midlands.
If you know The Goon Show you’ll probably now be lost in an air of nostalgic chortles. And Bluebottle impressions. If you don’t, imagine every left-of-centre-grey-to-black-comedy that you’ve enjoyed, then thank The Goon Show for it. Not often you get to give this citation but The Goon Show was the blueprint for much of our revered modern comedy. It inspired Monty Python, if that helps.
Written and devised (primarily) by Spike Milligan, The Goon Show first aired on 28th May 1951 under the name Crazy People. A set of surreal farces, but with an intelligent underbelly, The Goons would traverse Daliesque dimensions of comedy with half hour programmes such as ‘The Dredded Piano Clubber’ and ‘Operation Christmas Duff’. The Goon Show also had an episode called ‘Ned’s Atomic Dustbin’, if that means anything to anyone, named after one of the show’s central characters Neddy Seagoon (and his atomic dustbin).
But The Goon Show also poked fun at the establishment, empire, government, social reform (or the lack thereof) and both of the World Wars that preceded it. It was edgy, before edgy became a marketing tool, and caught the fervent imagination of a country crawling from the centre of two global conflagrations. Stiff upper lips turned to smiles and nearly two million people were tuning in by the end of the first series. The Goon Show, which would help push Peter Sellers to stardom and Spike Milligan to madness, was a hit… now just 237 episodes left to go.
The Goon Show – Fred Theatre / Birmingham Comedy Festival
The Goon Show comes to mac’s Foyle Studio on Saturday 11th February. For direct event info, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.
For more on Fred Theatre, visit www.fred-theatre.co.uk
For more on the Birmingham Comedy Festival, visit www.bhamcomfest.co.uk
For more from mac, including a full programme of events and courses, visit www.macbirmingham.co.uk