"I want to thank George Bush for sending The Goons here tonight . . ."
"The Goon Show" was broadcast on BBC Radio from 1951 to 1960 but to the good men and women of Great Britain it was far more than just a wacky comedy show. If you thought the fuss we raised when "Seinfeld" and "Friends" went off of the air was a bit much you at least could have said "This is a bit much!" without being taken to the top of Big Ben and thrown off during the next round of Ding Dongs. But when "The Goon Show" went off the air people raised such a fuss that if you had said "This is a bit much!" you would have been . . . Well, I guess I already gave that one away. Damn!
If "Godzilla" was the Japanese reaction to the Atomic Bomb, "The Goon Show" was a similar reaction from the British people to the Nazi Blitz. Hey, maybe "The Goon Show" is crazy, but just imagine what the British would have come up with if Hitler had succeeded in developing his own Atomic Bomb and used it on London! Next time they show a Godzilla movie on TV I'm gonna watch it with the sound turned off and listen to a "Goon Show" episode at the same time - But first I'll drink a six pack of Heinekin! Wha? No, not because it's German - I just want to get wasted! I could give a rat's ass to those bastard's reaction to us bombing them - Sheesh!
Created by Spike Milligan, The Most Funny Man Who Ever Lived (Late in life Spike dubbed Bill Cosby "The Most Unfunny Man Who Ever Lived" - Guess he never lived to see Colin Quinn), "The Goon Show" also starred Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, and Michael Bentine (Bentine left the show after the first year to do . . . I have no idea. All I know about Michael Bentine is that he worked on the first season of "The Goon Show" and then left to do something that only British people know anything about. I think he may have been the original bass player in Oasis).
In America "The Goon Show" is mostly known as the show that made Peter Sellers famous. What? Peter Sellers is the guy in the "Pink Panther" movies. No, he wasn't FRENCH! Peter Sellers used to be The Biggest Comedy Star In The World but now he isn't nearly as well known as Adam Sandler or Ben Stiller. Even worse than that, he's dead. And yet he's still funnier than Adam Sandler or Ben Stiller. But don't worry, Adam and Ben - You just keep right on pluggin' away and one day you'll be every bit as dead as Peter Sellers is today! All reet!
I guarentee you will love "The Goon Show" but I have to warn you - Like Japanese Anime, French Cinema, and Ebony Porn - "The Goon Show" is an acquired taste. At first listen "The Goon Show" may sound like someone is playing every Monty Python album ever released, a few of yer grandpappy's old Swing '78s, and the soundtrack to a Hong Kong Kung Fu movie ALL AT ONCE after putting a tin bucket over your head and banging on it with a ball peen hammer - Play it backwards and you will hear the Voice Of Satan begging you to put on some Sinatra.
"The Goon Show"s Cast Of Characters is so vast every article on the show is usually consumed by great charts and graphs listing the names of these fictional maniacs and the real life (although now dead) characters who played them. As a man who learned to write humor before Spy Magazine came along to ruin humor writing with all those goddam charts and graphs I say "Fi!" to all that and . . . Oh, I've gotten a little distracted from telling youse about "The Goon Show" characters, didn't I? No wonder those Spy guys were editing a magazine while I was scrubbing toilets.
My Three Favorite Goons Are -
Neddy Seagoon (Played by Harry Secombe)
Eccles (Played by Spike Milligan)
Bluebottle (Played by Peter Sellers, the guy in "The Pink Panther" movies - Not
Eccles and Bluebottle are close friends and always happy to come to Neddy's aid - Much to Neddy's dismay! (The cute kind of joke you always get in descriptions of the show. Hey, sure beats readin' about Jerry and his buddies George and Kramer)
My Favorite "Goon Show" Episode - "Napoleon's Piano", Neddy thinks he's found a soft gig in a classified ad offering big bucks to move a piano from one room and into another. Unfortunately for Neddy he has signed a contract to move Napoleon's Piano - "The piano Napoleon played at Waterloo" - from a room in France to a room in England! Whoever said there are no new stories?
Spike wrote most of the scripts by himself, a crushing responsibility for any comedy writer, particularly one such as Spike who had already been crushed by the Germans in the war. Although Spike was very prolific the pressure inevitably got to him and he wound up in the hospital on several occasions. How would that be for an episode of "E.R."? It would be funny to see an "E.R." script writer brought into the E.R. -
DOCTOR: What's wrong with this one?
NURSE: He tried to come up with a new idea for the show and his brain exploded!
WRITER: A chimpanzee doctor! A monkey nurse! They treat cats and dogs! "Doctor Chim Chim! There's a kitty with worms in Three!"
DOCTOR: My God! Another case of MILLIGANS!!
Ah, yes - The dreaded Milligans. Last year Acid Logic Editor Wil Forbis tried to write a treatment for a horror movie about a duck with a computerized brain and tentacles that kidnaps Kate Hudson (I told you it was last year) while putting together an issue of Acid Logic at the same time and came down with a horrible case of the Milligans. Do you still have to wear a diaper, Wil?
"Yes, I do! And Mister Duck won't let me change it! He says the latex gloves keep falling off of his tentacles!"
Maybe he should try condoms!
"But they deaden the sensation!"
"My God! What the hell was THAT!?! I've . . . I've got MILLIGANS!!
"Quick, get his pen and paper away from him before he can write any more jokes about me being a homo!"
ELTON JOHN: Whatever you say, sweetie!
Once you are aware of the turmoil Spike went through writing "The Goon Show" listening to it can be rather unnerving, kind of like watching "Spin City" now that we know why Michael J. Fox is such a goddam spazz (Only Spike is a funny guy). At times producers had to bring in Spike's comedy writing buddies Eric Sykes and Larry Stephens to take up the slack while Spike cooled out - You know, just like guys I used to get drunk with back in my stand up days are gonna call me up to write on "The Daily Show" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" once they get burned out. Oh yeah - I should be hearing from those guys any day now. Yep. Sure. Let me check my email . . . SHIT!!
FORBIS: Damn! I knew writing an article about "The Goon Show" and an article about Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in one issue would be too much for his nervous system!
SALEEBY: Oh, I could have handled the "Goon Show" article and the Peter Cook-Dudley Moore article just
fine, it was writing those and the Benny Hill article and the Marty Feldman article that pushed me
over the edge!
FORBIS: Benny Hill article? What Benny Hill article? Marty Feldman? Who told you to write all that? OSAMA BIN LADEN(DIABOLICAL LAUGHTER): Ha ha ha ha ha ha!
FORBIS: Osama Bin Laden! You old slyboots! If you had money you'd be dangerous!
SALEEBY: He does have money!
FORBIS: Well, then the next round is on him!
(MUSIC: "Cococabana" by Barry Manilow)
Sunny Gym Convalescent Home
I should have known better than to attempt to capture the mystery that is "The Goon Show" on paper. Better men than I have tried and today the streets of our cities ring with their plaintive cries for spare change. Like the horrors of war or the joy of love, no one can capture the wild magic of "The Goon Show" until they have personally experienced it in their own life. To attempt otherwise is to wake up in the middle of the night in urine soaked sheets bound by the wrists and ankles to the bedposts while a little man urges you to get to the part where you tell everybody to buy CDs of old "Goon Show" episodes and hear it for themselves. Only then . . . What . . . What is that sound?
(SOUND EFFECT: TELEPHONE RINGING)
Oh! Thank God for the script directions!
(SALEEBY ANSWERS PHONE)
Oh! Now I know what to do . . . Helloo?
FORBIS: John! I can't finish my Ronald Reagan Jr. Interesting Motherfuckers article! I need you to write one about Benny Hill after all!
SALEEBY: B . . . B . . . BENNY HILL!?!
(SOUND EFFECT: AN ATOMIC EXPLOSION, THE ENTIRE CITY IS DESTROYED, KILLING THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE)
FORBIS: Oh, we'll just set off a firecracker with a cheap microphone right next to it.
MARLON BRANDO: The humor . . . The humor . . .
John Saleeby wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines Schmuck.com, Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier. Email - firstname.lastname@example.org