Goodnight, and May Your God Go With You

I was in my early teens the first time I stayed up late enough to watch a British television show that was being re-broadcast in the States on an obscure independent station. A roguish Irishman sat alone on a bar stool in an empty studio, smoking a cigarette, holding a drink and serving up hilarious helpings of sacred cowburger. He particularly liked to take the Michael out of the Catholic Church, but everything was fair game for Dave Allen, especially authority figures.

The show was Dave Allen at Large, and I am happy to see that BBC have produced Dave Allen, God’s Own Comedian (rave review by Martin Chilton here). Definitely one to watch for his many fans.

Not all of Allen’s comedic material holds up today, but his charm and stage presence certainly do:

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over thirteen thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

9 thoughts on “Goodnight, and May Your God Go With You”

  1. He liked to repeat, every few weeks, the story of the priest who is warning his parishioners about the torments of hell, where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. One man asks, “What if you haven’t got any teeth?” and the priest replies, “A set of teeth will be issued!”

  2. His was one of the most original and cutting-edge shows offered in that era, and I never missed an episode on our local PBS station in Nashville. The guy was irreverent, but his humor spanned any differences folks might have felt about the religious jabs. In short, he was one funny SOB, and I’m happy they’re making those old shows available again.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  3. “I’ve a soft spot for politicians. It’s a bog in the west of Ireland.”

    1. “I’ve been reading in the paper that Britain is experiencing a long-term brain drain. Have you noticed that this whole time, not a single politician has moved abroad?”

  4. I can see the appeal but the problem I had was that in several instances I anticipated the punch line long before Allen got to it. For instance, I saw the punch line of the joke about getting to ask one question before you die the instant the characters were introduced. That greatly reduces the entertainment value of a comedian.

    1. Eh, true enough with comedy of that era — the age of joke writers and filing cabinets — it’s like music to some extent. When I listen to a bluesman, I expect him to go I-IV-V-I…I don’t really expect terra incognita.

      1. I think J. Michael Neal makes a reasonable point, but Anonymous does too. I remember a friend once pointing out that on Barney Miller (a very funny, very popular TV show in the states for a number of years), you ALWAYS knew exactly what the character of Fish was going to say, but what was funny was how Abe Vigoda said it. Ditto some of Bob Newhart’s best material, as he stammers along, you can often guess the punchline he is stumbling towards, but somehow he makes it funny anyway.

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