This was another Beatles song to get the Sellers treatment and its meaning takes on a whole new dimension when we hear the two characters in this recording. The voice Sellers uses for the female character is reminiscent of the one he used for Crystal Jollybottom in his long run with radio’s “Ray’s A Laugh.”
Look Around You is a British television comedy series devised and written by Robert Popper and Peter Serafinowicz, and narrated in the first series by Nigel Lambert. The first series of eight 10-minute shorts was shown in 2002, and the second series of six 30-minute episodes in 2005, both on BBC Two. The first series of Look Around You was nominated for a BAFTA award in 2003.
The humour is derived from a combination of patent nonsense and faithful references and homages. For instance, fictional items that have a passing resemblance to everyday objects are shown and discussed. Such items include the “boîte diabolique”, a box at the top of a piano scale which housed the “forbidden notes”; and “Garry gum”, a performance-enhancing chewing gum which has the unfortunate side-effect of inducing diarrhoea, necessitating the consumption of “anti-Garry gum”. Each episode begins with a “countdown clock”, similar to the one used on ITV Schools programmes from 1979 to 1987. The music that accompanies the countdown is in the same spirit as the original, but is played on a solo guitar, and at the beginning of the “Brain” module, the guitarist can be heard tuning.
The module subjects are distorted beyond recognition; for instance, germs are described as coming from Germany, and whisky is said to be made by combining water with nitrogen. The maths module features a distorted and inaccurate version of the ancient ‘seven cats’ puzzle by Ahmes. Additionally, subjects are mixed: for example, a chemistry experiment about eggs (In the episode Water) turns into a French language lesson. Each episode follows a general format, beginning with an introduction to the subject, followed by a series of silly experiments performed by the hapless (and normally mute) scientists, played by Popper, Serafinowicz and Edgar Wright, among others.
My ancient obsession with comedy legend Steve Martin continues to manifest itself. From Letters of Note …
Celebrities are faced with a dilemma as their star ascends: the fan mail that used to trickle to the front door now needs its own home, and replying to those messages of support is suddenly a full-time job of its own. A small few battle on valiantly, determined to respond personally to each and every piece of correspondence regardless of the trouble, expense or delay; most, however, take the easy, altogether more sensible route and produce a form letter, to be signed and used as a stock reply for every fan. Impersonal and slightly disappointing, yes, but a response nonetheless.
Trust comedy legend Steve Martin to plump for the latter option but still, thanks to a dab of perfectly pitched humour, come out smelling of roses. Back in the day, he replied to fan mail with “A personal letter from Steve Martin,” a form letter in which just a few words were personalised for each recipient, and which was hilarious precisely for that reason. This particular example was sent to a 17-year-old fan named Jerry Carlson in 1979, the year The Jerk, arguably one of the funniest films he has ever starred in, was released.
Holy shit, more pop culture dots connected. Before I forget, a few full issues of Help! are available online.
Help! is an American satire magazine that was published by James Warren from 1960 to 1965. It was Harvey Kurtzman’s longest-running magazine project after leaving Mad and EC Publications, and during its five years of operation it was chronically underfunded, yet innovative.
In starting Help!, Kurtzman brought along several artists from his Mad collaborations, including Will Elder, Jack Davis, John Severin and Al Jaffee.
Kurtzman’s assistants included Charles Alverson, Terry Gilliam and Gloria Steinem; the latter was helpful in gathering the celebrity comedians who appeared on the covers and the fumetti strips the magazine ran along with more traditional comics and text pieces. Among the then little-known performers in the fumetti were John Cleese, Woody Allen and Milt Kamen; better-known performers such as Orson Bean were also known to participate. Some of the fumetti were scripted by Bernard Shir-Cliff.
At Help!, Gilliam met Cleese for the first time, resulting in their collaboration years later on Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Cleese appeared in a Gilliam fumetto written by David Crossley, “Christopher’s Punctured Romance”. The tale concerns a man who is shocked to learn that his daughter’s new “Barbee” doll has “titties”; however, he falls in love with the doll and has an affair. Gilliam appeared on two covers of Help! and along with the rest of the creative team, appeared in crowd scenes in several fumetti.
The magazine introduced young talents who went on to influential careers in underground comix as well as the mainstream: among them Robert Crumb, Gilbert Shelton and Jay Lynch. Algis Budrys and other science fiction writers were regular contributors of prose and scripts to the magazine.
A total of 26 issues were printed before the magazine folded in 1965. Volume one (Aug. 1960–Sept. 1961) had 12 issues, and 14 issues comprised the second volume (Feb. 1962–Sept. 1965).