Ref NoBSUCA/JP/1/2/34
CollectionJohn Pidgeon Collection
TitleRonni Ancona interviewed for 'Talking Comedy'
Name of creatorPidgeon, John, 1947-2016
Datend [2002]
Duration45 min. 49 sec.
Extent1 sound cassette (DAT 95)
1 audio file Broadcast WAVE Format
DescriptionRonni Ancona 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 'Ronni i/v sans clips'. This is the unedited interview, not the programme as broadcast.

Summary: [01:44] JP asks Ronni Ancona [RA] what first made her laugh. RA says she was very obsessed with movies and comedy films, Neil Simon films, [02:37] She adored Walter Matthau as a child, and Jack Lemmon.
[03:10] JP asks RA when she started doing impressions of the people, RA says she was always doing Miss Piggy from the Muppet Show and Violet Elizabeth from Just William.
[05:04] JP asks about comedy on television, RA talks about The Goodies. [06:12] The Two Ronnies, Morecambe and Wise, she was obsessed with double acts. [06:26] She had a very scratchy copy of the Not The Nine O’Clock News LP. [07:25] RA talks about also loving unintentional double acts. [07:50] RA talks about Laurel & Hardy and Harold Lloyd.
[08:33] JP asks when RA got into comedy. [09:10] Comedy was a defence mechanism when she was younger.
[10:06] RA would listen to Gilda Radner, Madeline Kahn, the American comediennes like Elaine May, she was blown away by A New Leaf with Walter Matthau and Elaine May, where Elaine May did what RA thinks is the best example of female slapstick she has ever seen.
[11:00] RA mentions Burns and Allen, Phyllis Diller, and Joan Rivers.
[11:40] RA talks about her experiences as a woman in comedy, she says women are less of a neutral façade/blank canvas in stand-up than a man is, and tend to be subconsciously categorised by the audience of both men and women (big fat defensive, attractive bimbo, etc).
[13:08] RA brings up Victoria Wood, plays the clown brilliant, very liberated, not an element of vanity. [13:50] French & Saunders similarly aren’t afraid to make fools of themselves.
[14:06] When Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd were doing black and white comedy, the only female was really Marie Dressler, and women were generally tied to the railway tracks. [15:11] Like Victoria Wood and French & Saunders, Elaine May wasn’t afraid to show herself as being clumsy or incompetent for the sake of comedy.
[16:09] JP brings up Phyllis Diller’s on-stage image and self-denigration, and asks whether that became a stereotype in female comedy. [17:00] RA says it’s important stage in the development because it made women like French & Saunders and Jenny Éclair confident.
[17:35] Lucille Ball was another important figure, [17:45] RA criticises the term “female comedy”, because she says “what’s funny is funny” and says it’s actually a more divisive term, but acknowledges that there has been development and catching up to do.
[18:30] JP talks about Joan Rivers being around at the same time as Richard Pryor, and RA talks a bit about why she likes Joan Rivers. [19:26] RA says Joan Rivers and Ruby Wax are similar.
[19:39] RA talks about Jewish Comedy as an influence, not because it was Jewish but because of the rhythm. [20:01] Henny Youngman for example.
[20:17] RA talks about Woody Allen as an influence. [20:48] She calls him the comic equivalent of Naomi Campbell, he represents perfection, there’s almost no point in anyone else trying.
[21:11] JP talks about how much Woody Allen hated doing stand-up, [21:37] and RA compares him to Mozart in this regard.
[21:48] JP brings up Mike Nichols and Elaine May. [22:34] RA talks about listening to American comedians like Bob Newhart and George Carlin, praises the slickness of American humour.
[23:14] RA talks about having very eclectic comedy tastes, [23:40] because she did love Jewish American humour [23:46] but was equally keen on British surrealism with Spike Milligan, Monty Python, [24:01] and the wordplay of Eddie Izzard, and Blackadder.
[24:14] RA talks specifically about Monty Python. [24:42] JP asks how she got into Monty Python, he presumes from the records and tapes. [25:02] She mentions the films the Holy Grail and Life of Brian.
[25:20] RA says it hasn’t aged as well as people thinks it has, but thinks that this is an important part of it. [25:41] She feels the same way about Spike Milligan.
[26:53] JP brings up similarities between Billy Connolly and Victoria Wood bridging the gap between alternative and mainstream comedy. [27:58] RA talks about Billy Connolly, Scottish comedy, and memories of watching Glasgow Pantomimes as a child, starring Glaswegian double act Francie and Josie, aka Jack Melroy & Rikki Fulton.
[28:28] RA talks about how Billy Connolly channels the “campness” of Scottish humour exemplified in Victor and Barry [Forbes Masson & Alan Cumming].
[30:30] RA brings up Garry Shandling as an example of an “enchanting artist”. [31:16] JP returns to RA’s point about Jewish comedy, mentioning English Jewish comedian Ian Stone.
[31:30] RA says there’s a lot in common between American Jewish humour and English Jewish humour, but says that English Jewish humour isn’t very established as opposed to American Jewish humour being so integrated with American humour in general, [32:34] and admits to choosing a clip from Ian Stone because she thought it was a great gag and that being Jewish was incidental, and goes on to praise great comedians on the circuit.
[33:07] JP suggests they listen to some clips. They generally discuss the clips they have.
[34:40] JP suggests she starts by recording the intros and ads.
[36:47] RA suggests doing the links as impressions, [37:04] Ruby Wax impression, [40:02] RA says she does about 80 different impressions now, and has an entire menagerie of girls between her and Jan [Ravens]. [40:16] Victoria Beckham impression, [43:20] Carol Smilie impression.
[45:32] Recording ends
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
Access conditionsThis recording is available for consultation at the University of Kent's Special Collections & Archives reading room, Templeman Library, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NU for study/research purposes only. Access to audio-visual recordings is through digital listening copies. The University of Kent acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors in this recording and the rights of those not identified.
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