Polly's 'He's Drunk' Speech in 'Gourmet Night'
There's a bit in this classic episode of Fawlty Towers where Polly is trying to explain to Basil that the chef, Kurt, is drunk, but does it with the most bizarre stream of euphemisms so as not to alarm the guests. When I was a kid I hadn't a clue what was going on but found it so funny that Polly was just saying nonsense and rolling her head about that I memorised the whole speech down to the strangely musical intonation.
Party Conference Speeches
Nothing useful or memorable is ever said at a Party Conference and yet the poor delegates are obliged to do round after round of standing ovations for comments like: 'Britain is a good country' and 'We want the people of Britain to do well.' When someone does try and give a little drama to their speech they always end up looking ridiculous: see Liz Truss on Cheese and Peter Lilley's 'I've Got A Little List'.
Robots Falling Over
We're all living in fear of the robots conquering the planet and I'm in no doubt that they'll get there eventually, but in the meantime I love watching videos where these extremely clever multi-million dollar machines fail to complete the simplest of tasks. It's a humbling reminder that my two year-old nephew who thinks my name is 'Ning ning' is an infinitely more sophisticated being than the greatest of human inventions.
Witty yet silly, touching yet satirical, Frasier has it all. A perfect cast of performers and, as with all the best sitcoms, a family that you feel like you're part of. Plus the DVD box set of the whole thing is now properly cheap.
The Pirates Of Penzance
Opinions differ about Gilbert and Sullivan, but all modern comedians stand to learn something from comic works that are still performed and popular after well over a century. When I was younger I used to roll my eyes at their stupidity but now I've come to adore Gilbert's total disrespect for narrative conventions. The best one is at the end of Pirates where all the pirates are revealed to be members of the House of Lords and so are instantly forgiven for everything and allowed to marry all of the female characters.
John McCain Fluffing the Punchline
I have a predilection for politicians desperately trying to be funny (see 'Party Conference Speeches') and in the 2008 Presidential Election John McCain missed an absolute sitter. The set-up was perfect: 'Senator Obama's supporters have been saying some pretty nasty things about Western Pennsylvania lately...'. Cue huge enormous boos and anticipation from the Western Pennsylvania audience. The goal is open, McCain is about do deliver a killer punchline, but then: '...and you know, I couldn't agree with them more.' The jumble of words that comes after as he realises what's happened and desperately tries to recover is priceless.
That Chapter Of A Harry Potter Book Written By A Computer
I'm a terrible Luddite and refuse to get a smart phone, much to the consternation of friends, family, agent etc. I'll probably cave one day but I just think the new technological age is deeply overrated, and find it hilarious when software tries to imitate human creativity and creates these mad abominations. Top examples are the sinister Christmas Carol written by a computer and the mad chapter of 'Harry Potter And The Portrait Of What Looked Like A Large Pile Of Ash'. Read it and weep with laughter like I did on a train to Bromsgrove.
Guy Goma on BBC News
In 2006 BBC News did a live on-air chat with someone they thought was a music industry expert but was in fact a guy who had turned up for a job interview When it dawns on him that he's being interviewed on national telly there follow perhaps the most beautiful five seconds of human expression I've ever seen.
The 1904 Tour De France
A few years ago I did a show about Lance Armstrong, famous for cheating at the Tour de France. But Lance had nothing on the 1904 gang, who routinely hopped in a car for a lift, slashed one another's tyres, got into fist fights or just caught a train from one town to the next. At the end of the race all of the stage winners were disqualified as were the top 4 riders overall. VAR would have had a field day.
There are so many extraordinarily talented people writing and performing comedy today and I'm always surprised to be allowed to be in their company. Every time I see a friend's show I feel this brilliant mix of wonder and jealousy – 'How did they think of that? Why didn't I think of that?' If you're in the position to go and see something you've never heard of in a small venue then do take the risk – there's a wonderful and diverse world of humour out there, from silly things to rude things to sweet things, and we'd all love to see you.
See Kieran Hodgson: ‘75 at the Pleasance Courtyard throughout the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 1st – 26th August. For tickets visit www.edfringe.com