Ref NoBSUCA/JP/1/2/7
CollectionJohn Pidgeon Collection
TitleGreg Proops interviewed for 'Talking Comedy'
Name of creatorPidgeon, John, 1947-2016
Date05/06/1996
Duration1 hr. 27 min. 21 sec.
Extent1 sound cassette (DAT 120)
1 audio file Broadcast WAVE Format
DescriptionGreg Proops interviewed by John Pidgeon at The Sound Company, London, for 'Talking Comedy', a BBC Radio 2 programme in which comedians talk about the people that make them laugh. This is the unedited interview, not the programme as broadcast.

Summary: [00:38] Greg Proops [GP] is in the middle of talking to John Pidgeon [JP]. [01:14] JP mentions meeting Allen Toussaint in New Orleans.
[03:10] The interview starts with JP asking GP who first made him laugh, to which GP says Bill Cosby. [03:35] GP talks about watching The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters when he was a child in 1968.
[05:28] GP talks about watching the WC Fields movie It’s A Gift. [07:48] GP says one of the less funny WC Fields flims is My Little Chickadee with Mae West, it wasn’t as funny as meaner films like The Bank Dick or Never Give A Sucker An Even Break. [08:41] GP talks about how comics who come from a starvation background such as Richard Pryor, Charlie Chaplin and WC Fields are incredibly funny.
[09:05] JP asks about Richard Pryor. He saw a Summer Replacement Show with George Carlin and Richard Pryor, and mentions one from 1968 with Rob Klein. [09:59] Richard Pryor used to go on The Flip Wilson Show all the time. [10:23] Flip Wilson used to have all the black performers on his show, Sammy Davis Jr, Bill Cosby, Gregory Hines, Pigmeat Markham.
[13:44] George Carlin [14:52] Arsenio Hall used to have George Carlin on his show. [14:57] GP talks about a TV show produced by Billy Crystal’s brother Richard Crystal about the history of political comedy in America. [16:39] GP compares George Carlin to Samuel Beckett.
[17:25] JP asks about Robert Klein. [20:48] GP mentions how Barry Cryer and Bob Monkhouse made comebacks in the UK. [21:09] GP says that Rob Klein and George Carlin were huge on vinyl. [21:30] GP says that when he was a kid he listened to Bill Cosby, Allan Sherman, Stan Freberg, and when he was in high school he listened to Cheech & Chong, Rob Klein, George Carlin and Albert Brooks.
[22:45] GP describes Albert Brooks as being surreal like Andy Kauffman, who made Emo Philips look normal. [23:58] Georgie Jessel an old vaudeville comedian from the same time period as Al Jolson.
[25:32] GP talks about Albert Brooks doing prank phone calls on the album, predating the The Jerky Boys, two prank callers who are famous in America. [26:37] JP says the only similar thing they have in the UK are Noel Edmonds and Victor Lewis Smith.
[27:57] GP talks about The Fireside Theatre. [31:55] GP says he’s not sure if the Fireside Theatre are as seminal as The Goons are.
[32:22] JP asks about National Lampoon. Doug Kenny who wrote and starred in Animal House. Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, all of the people from Saturday Night Live were part of National Lampoon.
[34:07] JP mentions Christopher Guest. [34:22] GP said that Michael McKean and Harry Shearer were in a comedy group in LA called The Credibility Gap, mentions Edie McClurg. The Ace Trucking Company with Fred Hubbert. [35:07] Brian Doyle-Murray, Bill’s brother, writer and comic. Laraine Newman, Gilda Radner. [35:48] Windy Craig was the announcer on the National Lampoon records.
[36:42] Steve Martin [37:07] Steve Martin used to appear on the Smothers Brothers Show, which also featured vaudeville acts like Jack Benny and George Burns. [41:07] Jay Leno was a young comic around that time too.
[42:41] JP talks about Eric Idle being on Saturday Night Live, and asks if Peter Cook & Dudley Moore were ever on it. JP said that this was Americans’ exposure to many British acts. [43:17] Michael Palin hosted Saturday Night Live, the Pythons were beloved by then because they were aired in America in 1974. [44:27] GP saw Monty Python and the Holy Grail on a double bill with Bedazzled.
[44:42] GP talks about Peter Cook & Dudley Moore. [45:11] Derek & Clive record. [46:00] Before Monty Python, the only British comic American audiences were familiar with was Peter Sellers
[46:06] The other shows GP saw on PBS in addition to Monty Python, Dave Allen at Large, Morecambe & Wise, Benny Hill. [46:37] GP talks about how many British people don’t particularly like Benny Hill, similar to how people in France like Jerry Lewis.
[47:00] GP talks about seeing Cook & Moore on Saturday Night Live. [47:14] GP talks about Mike Myers’ formative comedy years in England with Neil Mullarkey.
[47:52] JP asks GP about The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. [49:18] The Rutles, GP talks about comedy lineage, The Pythons, The Bonzos, The Beatles, The Goons. [49:51] JP mentions how surprised he was about Joan Rivers knowing who The Goons were.
[50:15] On National Public Radio they’d play I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again, which John Cleese also appeared on, which got GP thinking about the British comedy lineage.
[51:16] Dick Gregory. [51:57] GP says Dick Gregory was one of the first black comics on TV with a social conscience, and mentions that Bill Cosby never touches race, it’s more implicit, where Dick Gregory was more explicit about the black experience. [52:30] GP talks about vinyl comedians, Bob Newhart, Jonathan Winters, Shelley Berman, Dick Gregory, and Bill Cosby.
[53:03] Tom Lehrer. [55:15] GP says that Tom Lehrer was very different from the Milton Berle style comics of the late-1950s. [55:54] GP mentions the American version of That Was The Week That Was, [56:04] which or may not have had David Frost in it, [56:17] Phyllis Newman was on there, and Tom Lehrer did the topical songs.
[56:46] Lord Buckley. [57:12] GP says that Lord Buckley is not Lenny Bruce but was more of a precursor for the hippie movement.
[59:08] GP talks about how there was very little crossover of black and white comedy during Lord Buckley’s time. [59:20] GP talks about black comics, Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby dealing with the inequality of show business for years.
[59:45] GP mentions how popular black comics in America are now, Chris Rock, The Wayans Brothers, Martin Lawrence, and Mark Curry. [01:00:03] Even though Flip Wilson had a TV show in the 1970s and was a big hit with white audiences, now there are lots more awareness.
[01:00:36] In the old days it was Slappy White and Redd Foxx on the Chitlin’ circuit, or Rudy Ray Moore, who were much more segregated into their own category of comedy at the time.
[01:01:07] Joan Rivers. GP talks about female comedians. [01:01:40] GP has recently heard of Hylda Baker from the UK. In the US there was Sophie Tucker, who was the link between Fanny Bryce and Lucille Ball.
[01:01:55] GP says there were lots of women comics in the silent era, including Mabel Normand, Jean Harlow. [01:02:07] In the 1960s, there were female stand-up comedians, like Totie Fields, [01:02:18] Moms Mabley, [01:02:28] Phyllis Diller, [01:02:34] GP thinks of Jo Brand as the post-modern, hip, 1990s Phyllis Diller. [01:02:59] Joan Rivers.
[01:03:18] In the late-1980s, Joan Rivers was one of the most popular mainstream comics, with the rise of Reaganism and what Caryl Churchill called “serious money”.
[01:04:06] GP says that Joan Rivers was going to be Johnny Carson’s replacement, and it never happened. [01:04:43] She had a six or seven minute slot on Ed Sullivan, which was a big deal.
[01:07:00] GP mentions Roseanne, Brett Butler and Ellen DeGeneres as being examples of huge female TV stars. [01:07:31] Carol Burnett in the 1970s. [01:07:49] Tea Leoni, 1970s movie stars Candice Bergen and Cybill Shepherd have made comedy comebacks.
[01:08:07] GP says “you’ll never get rid of white Jewish guys in comedy, because that’s the basis of American comedy” like Garry Shandling and Jerry Seinfeld, and Paul Reiser.
[01:08:26] Bill Hicks. [01:08:50] GP says he read a quote in the newspaper calling Arthur Askey a light comedian, translating to “not too funny”. [01:09:09] Jerry Sadowitz and Richard Pryor are “too real” and would never be shown on TV.
[01:14:37] JP and GP listen to the clips.
[01:24:30] JP gets GP to record the trailers.
[01:27:01] 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
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