Dave Allen - John Cleese - George Orwell - Censorship at the Seaside: The Postcards of Donald McGill TV - News TV - Postcards - Rude Britannia TV - Groucho Marx - Victor Borge - Mel Brooks - The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie TV - Ann Widdecombe - Mark Twain - Langston Hughes - Steven Weinberg - Jonathan Swift - Michael Moore - Aristotle - Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon TV -
I often wonder whether God has got a sense of humour. I hope He has. I’m in trouble if he hasn't. Dave Allen
The difference between the English sense of humour and the American sense of humour I think is Americans seem to need a wise-cracker, a punch line, a kind of button to make them laugh; whereas British audiences can laugh at the general absurdity of something without having a specific joke to make them laugh. John Cleese
In the past the mood of the comic postcard could enter into the central stream of literature, and jokes barely different from McGill’s could casually be uttered between the murders in Shakespeare’s tragedies. That is no longer possible, and a whole category of humour, integral to our literature till 1800 or thereabouts, has dwindled down to these ill-drawn postcards, leading a barely legal existence in cheap stationers’ windows. The corner of the human heart that they speak for might easily manifest itself in worse forms, and I for one should be sorry to see them vanish. George Orwell, The Art of Donald McGill, essay vol II pp 194-5
This is Donald McGill: the king of the saucy seaside postcard. And here is Mr McGill fifty years ago in a Lincoln prison cell. He is quite possible wondering how a seventy-nine-year-old man with a wooden foot who sold more than two hundred million postcards and put a smile on the face of the nation is practically penniless and facing the rest of his life in jail. Censorship at the Seaside: The Postcards of Donald McGill, 2005
It’s a scorcher, and the nation is off to the seaside ... After the war ... One industry in particular goes into overdrive: and that is the saucy seaside postcard industry ... In the summer of 1947 sixteen million saucy postcards are sent from the seaside. And rather remarkably almost all of them bear the name of just one man: Donald McGill. So just who is the one-man postcard-producing machine? ibid.
The nation’s shopkeepers are on his side. ibid.
For the first time ever the authorities decide to directly pursue the artist himself. The Director of Public Prosecutions believes that these twenty-one cards created, painted sold and distributed by Mr McGill constitute no less than obscene libel – they have the power to corrupt. ibid.
Over 2,000 Postcards Seized By Weymouth Police. News headline cited ibid.
17,989 Postcards Seized and Destroyed In Brighton. News headline cited ibid.
Man carrying gigantic stick of rock on beach: A Stick of Rock, Cock? Donald McGill saucy seaside postcard
She’s a nice girl. Doesn’t drink or smoke, and only swears when it slips out! Donald McGill saucy seaside postcard
Nurse delivering baby to mother: What was the colour of the father’s hair?
Mother in bed: I don’t know. He kept his hat on. Donald McGill saucy seaside postcard
Devil: Do you know who I am?
Drunken man: Of course I do. I married your sister. Donald McGill saucy seaside postcard
Travel back two hundred and fifty years and witness a Britain openly, gloriously and often shockingly rude. Rude Britannia I: A History Most Satirical, Bawdy, Lewd and Offensive
We had a fierce belief in our right to be rude. ibid.
The first chronicler of Georgian rude: William Hogarth. ibid.
Hogarth made Southwark Fair a portrait of the city. ibid.
The Beggar’s Opera by John Gay. ibid.
Henry Fielding – these attacks on political sleaze were even more direct than Gay in The Beggar’s Opera. ibid.
The Law allowed literary bitchin’ to flourish. ibid.
A master of rude words ... Alexander Pope. ibid.
Bawdy humour was at the heart of the success of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy Gentleman. ibid.
This was the colourful world of satirical and humorous prints. ibid.
A poet with the rudest reputation in Regency Britain – the devilish Lord Byron. ibid.
There would always be a different, ruder country. In Rude Britannia life was celebrated in music halls with bawdy humour and lewd songs. Rude Britannia II: Presents Bawdy Songs & Lewd Photographs
The shock of the rude nude photograph. ibid.
The cheeky carnival of the seaside. ibid.
The alliance of toffs and prolls and a racy night out was a serious threat to Victorian values. ibid.
On the stage rude stars were created. ibid.
Music hall had a tradition of bawdy humour and song that went back centuries. ibid.
A new technology to further undermine Victorian values: photography. ibid.
Rude photographs became affordable and available. ibid.
Someone with a genius for the rude innuendo now needed was Victoria superstar Marie Lloyd. ibid.
Victorian moral reformers argued that music halls linked to prostitution were part of an exploitation of women undermining the morals of the nation. ibid.
By the Edwardian era there was a new kind of peep-show – the Mutoscope. ibid.
Donald McGill: McGill took a most proper part of daily British life – the postcard – and turned it rude. ibid.
During a nationwide ‘back to basics’ campaign by the government of Winston Churchill [cf. maiden Parliament speech] McGill was investigated for obscenity. ibid.
The seventy-nine-year-old artist pleaded guilty to obscenity and was fined £50. Thousands of his cards were then ordered to be destroyed. ibid.
Enjoying rudeness became so much easier. Rude was now in your front room. Rude Britannia III: You’ve Never Had It So Rude 3/3
We now lived in a mass-democracy of rude. ibid.
Cartoonist Gerald Scarfe drew the prime minister naked ... Private Eye’s Romantic England: Macmillan Issue. ibid.
A tradition of rude cartooning come back to life. ibid.
Plays like Entertaining Mrs Sloane and Loot [Joe Orton] with their assault on taboos of sex, class and death were a challenge to theatre audiences. ibid.
Orton’s last piece of notorious rude theatre was What the Butler Saw. ibid.
Radio was at its rudest in Round the Horne. ibid.
A counter-culture: house-journal of this underground movement was Oz which first surfaced in the Summer of Love 1967. ibid.
Inside School Kid’s Issue: Oz was a comic strip featuring the head of the much loved children’s character Rupert Bear superimposed on an X-rated cartoon by American Robert Crumb. Words and pictures were a rude provocation. ibid.
The Oz Three... were found guilty and sent down with harsh sentences ... A successful appeal. ibid.
Television ... a mass democracy of rude. ibid.
It was comedy like Till Death Us Do Part that brought rude to peak-time television. ibid.
Bernard Manning was a king of northern comedy. Manning made his part of seventies Britain laugh. ibid.
The Comedians made national stars of regional comics. ibid.
Rudeness that was crude and offensive. ibid.
Anger made Bell’s pen drip with vitriol. ibid.
Television also satirised Margaret Thatcher in a comedy show that first appeared on ITV in 1984: Spitting Image. ibid.
Spitting Image didn’t just attack politicians; the programme also went for the British establishment ... Now the Windsors were part of Rude Britannia. ibid.