Friday, April 29, 2011

Sid Kipper

7 April - Bath Comedy Festival

Lester and Mick used to periodically played Sid Kipper on Folkwaves, back in those glorious old days when we were still allowed to have folk music on the wireless. From his records, he appeared to be entirely mad, with a dangerous weakness for puns. ("On Feb 29th, the squire awarded a haunch of venison to any lady who successfully proposed to a young man. It was a case of meat buoys girl.") So I was pleased to have the opportunity to hear him live. He was originally part of a duo called the Kipper Family, and if you find that remotely funny, you'd probably have laughed at his songs as well. (*)

Well... You'd probably have laughed at at least one of his songs, in a very broad, carry-on style music hall way. A fair sample of the tone:

Now our Norfolk turkeys are simply the best,
They sure knock the stuffing out of the rest
And if you tried one I'm sure that you would
Agree that our turkeys are Norfolk and good.
Audience: Norfolk and Good! Norfolk and Good!
You'll say our turkeys are Norfolk and Good!

Beneath the silliness, there are some sharp folk in-jokes. "People debate whether or not women can Morris dance. Since they do, you'd think that would have finished the argument." (While you take part in this frolic / Remember that it's all symbolic.) I enjoyed the one about the young lady enthusiastically sending her young man off to fight in the wars, while he sings response verses coming up with excuses to stay at home. And the entirely daft cod Latin reworking of Gaudete

Troilus et Cressida, In Loco Parentis
Honi soit qui mal y pense, Harry Belafontee

And the entirely genuine 17th century protest song, played on a harpsichord.

How roads many roads must a dodo walk down
Before you can call her a dodo?
How many seas must the white Dodo sail
Before she rests by the road-oh.

In fact, rather than reciting the entire set list, I liked nearly all of it. And the way Sid (actually comedian Chris Sugden, but don't tell anybody) keeps up the endless stream of cod Norfolk patter and malapropisms, without stepping out of character once is actually very clever indeed. ("....or you can look at my webpage, or go on Myface and Twat me...but I digest...) But I did start to feel by the end of the evening that I had now heard the joke, and that 25 of the best Kippersongs (sung in order of their royalties: "this one has earned by £178 in the last ten years") is less funny than one of them.

Also worth mentioning the support act, a local duo called Man Overboard, which I can only describe as "quirky": guitar guy Martyn Dormer follows a comedy ukele number called The Phantom Wanker of HMV with a creditably bellowed Port of Amsterdam, interspersed with some perfectly straight jiggedy jiggedy jigs by the fiddler Brendan Jones. The mixing of the very silly with the not particularly silly at a gig being done under auspices of the Bath Comedy Festival was very courageous, but I thought really worked. Will try to track these people down again.

(*) English folk music was invented by a group called "The Copper Family": get it?

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