There used to be a classic English comedy duo called Morecambe and Wise. They had a television series that started in the 1960s when I was growing up in which each episode was a happy mix of a sketch show crossed with a sitcom.
My dad, who used to be on the variety hall stage himself before WWII loved them (see also The Times They Are a-Changin’). My dad explained to me that a lot of comedians failed to survive the transition from the stage to the small screen. The thing is that, when they were performing on stage, the show was only in town for a week. They performed to a different audience each night and a different city each week.
Dad told me that he would watch them hone their act, occasionally replacing an old joke with a new one to see how it went down. If the new joke got a good laugh, it was in the show. By the time the comedian returned to the same town a year later, he or she essentially had a new act.
The problem with television was that with a single show you’d covered the whole country and blown your act. What were you going to do next week?
I remember how they grew to have a unique dynamic in which Ernie was the comedian who wasn’t funny, while Eric was the straight man who was funny. One thing that sticks in my mind was Ernie’s utterly confident presentation of amateurishly inept plays — typically in the form of staged historical drama that parodied genuine historical television plays or films. As the Wikipedia says:
Wise’s character would write a play, complete with cheap props, shaky scenery and appallingly clumsy writing (“the play what I wrote” became a catchphrase), which would then be acted out by Morecambe, Wise and the show’s guest star. Guests who participated included many big names of the 1970s and 1980s, such as Dame Flora Robson, Penelope Keith, Laurence Olivier, Sir John Mills, Vanessa Redgrave, Eric Porter, Peter Cushing (who in a running gag would keep turning up to complain that he had not been paid for an earlier appearance) and Frank Finlay—as well as Glenda Jackson (as Cleopatra: “All men are fools. And what makes them so is having beauty like what I have got…”).
I think it was Ernie’s character who often used to ask, “Have you got the scrolls?” And Eric’s character would reply, “No, I always walk like this” (see also The Morecambe & Wise Archive on Twitter).
Why am I waffling on about this here? Well, I just saw the rather interesting Single Rotor “Ball” Drone Mk II DIY project over on MAKE Magazine. This made me think that if my chum Little Steve in England were to ask me “Have you got the drones?” I would reply, “No, I always walk like this,” and then we would laugh and laugh until I reminded him that it was his turn to buy the beers.
How about you? Could you be tempted to build your own Single Rotor “Ball” Drone?