Ref NoBSUCA/JP/1/2/17
CollectionJohn Pidgeon Collection
TitleGraham Norton interviewed for 'Talking Comedy'
Name of creatorPidgeon, John, 1947-2016
Date1998
Duration1 hr. 20 min. 27 sec.
Extent1 sound cassette (DAT 125)
1 audio file Broadcast WAVE Format
DescriptionGraham Norton interviewed by John Pidgeon for 'Talking Comedy', a BBC Radio 2 programme in which comedians talk about the people that make them laugh. Tape marked as 'Graham Norton Vox'. This is the unedited interview, not the programme as broadcast.
[Duration: 1 hr, 20 mins, 20 secs]: [0:10] Talking about gardening is not a high point in life. Laughs. Talking about dead plants in the room and how they're not very well looked after. Laughs. John Pidgeon offers Graham Norton a piece of paper, GN replies he's already got one. [1:03] JP asks GN to mention people by their full name at first. Asks GN who was the first person he saw or heard who made him laugh. GN remarks it's quite hard but says Flip Wilson, used to learn big chunks of Geraldine's parts from the show and recite them in the car. Growing up in Ireland, didn't have BBC/ITV on television, but had RTE, which tried to avoid English programmes so tended to buy American shows - that's how he was exposed to Flip Wilson. [3:32] JP remarks he only seems to have a couple of routines, GN said he was successful but then disappeared - was very fond of him. GN remarks that what's strange about talking about what makes you laugh is that you can start contradicting yourself. GN responds to comedy by liking the person, not necessarily good material. [5:12] GN talks about his brother in law as a big influence because he was much older/sophisticated and had tapes of 'Round the Horne' and 'The Goons' - adored them, British sophistication. Feels like nothing has surpassed 'Round the Horne'. JP remarks that he feels no one really anticipated how well the cast would work together. Talks about how difficult it would be to find people to play those characters as well as the originals. [7:50] Jerry Seinfeld - TV show - doesn't make GN laugh that much, loves the characters and the plot. JP says that so much stuff you hear on the radio is like a pilot, GN agrees and laughs. JP says he's worried that the catchphrases are being tried out on radio before they're used on television. 'Round the Horne' was intrinsically a radio programme. Kenneth Williams - personality better than any material. [10:02] JP mentions a tribute to Williams ten years after his death, GN says it's like he's still here because of how present he still is. [11:59] When asked about Joyce Grenfell, GN remarks that she's adorable and unlikely, wasn't completely aware of who she was, performed one of her monologues at age 12 - went very well, still a big fan. JP talks about his favourite Grenfell monologue. GN talks about one of his favourite Grenfell pieces, balance between poignant and funny. [15:09] JP asks GN when he first thought about wanting to entertain people for a living. GN remarks that he started being interested at school, got into acting and assumed that was his future. When that didn't work out he started writing his own stuff - Grenfell influential. [16:58] JP asks about Pam Ayres, GN replies that she was his first comedy 'discovery', he saw her on The Late Late Show, very popular in Ireland, immediate response but went off her rather quickly. [18:53] JP asks about other people who he found very funny at first but don't find them so funny now. GN talks about Bob Hope and how in awe of him he was - as he got older he thought it probably wasn't a good idea to enjoy his work so much. GN and JP talk about Bob Hope using autocues for his jokes in his shows. [21:15] JP asks GN about Tom Lehrer. GN said Tom Lehrer came into his mind from Tomfoolery - saw it at Cork Playhouse. GN thinks what Lehrer does with music is very clever. JP says that in music or comedy one of the two is severely diluted. [23:49] JP asks did GN pick up any other things visiting Cork Playhouse. GN replies not really, it's a comedy cul-de-sac. JP asks about Irish performers. Niall Toibin and Ballykissangel - how huge he was in Ireland. Irish acts were popular in Ireland but GN felt he was part of a cultural inferiority complex - funny shows/people only came from America or England. [26:11] JP asks GN about Joan Rivers, he replies that he's very drawn to American acts and found her very glamorous. Felt that Joan Rivers became too famous to be a stand-up comedian. JP talks about British Airways in-flight comedy programme he did and interviewed Joan Rivers for - found her funny and sweet. GN remarks that he's noticed that women aren't expected to be harsh and sharp with their comedy. [30:09] JP talks about Ellen DeGeneres as a stand-up, finds her so funny, GN agrees. GN says about her HBO special, finds it hilarious but you can see how a sitcom came out of it because it was so connected to her [31:55] JP asks GN when he came across Gilda Radner. Introduced to him by friends in America. Found a talking book of Gilda Radner's in the boot of the car on a road trip across America - recorded a couple of months before she died. About her battle with cancer - two 60 minute cassettes - taken out the funny bits, lots about her illness. Talking about Gilda Radner's effect on people - affection. [35:25] JP mentions Jane Curtin, GN says she's excellent. JP also mentions Paula Poundstone, GN says he had never come across her until he was in the US - thinks she's a one off. [36:44] JP talks about American comedians who aren't very well-known in this country - e.g. Dennis Miller. GN says that it's easy to forget how big America is and assume all cultural references are understood - fraction of American culture - cream of the crop. Remarks about the assumption that there's a lack of irony in American sitcoms. GN says he has a lot of respect for American comedy. JP talking about an article that says American sitcoms are better than British ones. [40:00] JP mentions Father Ted and GN remarks about how popular it's been in comparison to other British sitcoms - not trying to mimic American sitcoms like some British sitcoms. [41:20] JP mentions John Hegley and Mark Steel as an example of British comedians - not mainstream. GN says there's a few on the British circuit that should be very famous but aren't - Mark Steel - finds him very clever. GN says John Hegley should be a bigger star because he can do so many different things within his world. [44:28] JP remarks that the serious content of some comedy sticks and doesn't jar. GN talks about Victoria Wood - sad song just before the interval - felt it wasn't needed. Comedy seen as such a shallow/trivial thing - comedian loves a chance to bare their soul. [45:42] JP mentions 'Knowing Me Knowing You', GN says he had come across Steve Coogan at Edinburgh - blown away by 'Knowing Me Knowing You' - accurate but cruel, worked better on the radio than TV. JP talks about National Lampoon. [48:10] GN asks JP if he's ever heard a sketch of a man and a woman commentating the gymnastics. They joke it's inappropriate for BBC Radio 2. JP suggests listening to short extracts to see if they make GN think of anything else. [49:10] background noise and laughter. [51:32] GN remarks that he thinks you wouldn't get away with 'Round the Horne' - BBC naïve, they now know that it's sort of inappropriate - works on every level. Now people know too much and so you can't get away with such content. JP asks GN if this clip was the one he meant. GN says it wasn't. GN requests 'Useful and Acceptable Gifts' by Joyce Grenfell. [52:25] Background noise and laughter. [55:31] GN says that what he loves about that is it's so subtle and sophisticated, social commentary - modern idea. [56:07] Background noise and laughter. [57:00] GN remarks that we're not supposed to laugh at those kind of jokes anymore. [57:13] Background noise and laughter. [1:00:09] GN says he has nothing to say, the content speaks for itself. [1:00:12] Background noise and laughter. [1:02:40] GN says it's interesting that now everyone has these labels e.g. black comedian or Irish comedian but he never considered it when he was growing up, just found things Flip Wilson did funny. [1:03:40] Background noise and laughter. [1:07:05] GN watching a clip remarks how funny it is. [1:07:10] Background noise and laughter. [1:07:48] GN says it's like what he was saying before - she's not that good, there's just something about her that's appealing. GN says Paula Poundstone won't be that famous because her stuff is very 'run of the mill'. [1:08:40] Background noise and laughter. [1:11:18] GN talks about diction being amazing. The way that he plays with the syntax and the rhyme, done so much now it's quite common - pretty sure John Hegley was the one to do it first. [01:11:40] Background noise and laughter. [01:16:42] JP remarks 'and so it goes on'. Asks GN if he wants to hear anymore as it goes on for a while and asks GN if there's anything he wants to add. JP says the one thing that remains is to do the 'hello bit'. Previous week's programme - GN's voice will come in after the last clip. Recording speech clips for the programme he will feature in. GN to sum himself up in two words and introduce himself. Asks if he can refer to himself as an Irish poof, JP says why not. Rehearses some lines for promotional adverts/other material.
[Summary by Ellis Spicer]
NotesLPCM wave 16 bit 44.1kHz. Digital Audio Tape (DAT) captured using a PC running Windows; SPDIF connection via RME PCI card. Digitisation engineer Adrian Finn, Greatbear analogue & digital media ltd. Digital file topped and tailed.
CategoryAudio recordings
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