Radio comedy: filling in the gaps

I had a realization about a Goon Show episode this weekend which helped inspire this blog.

“The Goon Show?  What on earth are you talking about?”

Ok, this is an obscure one.  The Goon Show was a madcap radio comedy show from the BBC in the 1950s which helped inspire Monty Python.

Some of the humour – aside from being crazy – really was unique to radio. Consider the following scene, which helpfully you can listen to on YouTube!

Take two minutes and go listen to this:

You really couldn’t make the final joke in a visual medium.  As we listen to the voices of the characters, we construct a mental picture in our mind of the agent painstakingly writing down all the details, only to have that picture exploded, and that’s what’s funny.

This wasn’t by any means unusual for the Goons.  In “Napoleon’s Piano”, characters planning a heist in the Louvre in Paris begin to unfold a gigantic map of the city until they are miles away from each other, and they reunite by taxi.  In “The Treasure of the Loch”, two schemers plan to drain a loch to get at a sunken treasure galleon by convincing our foolish protagonist to drink it.

And that of course is why I love it so much.

I’ll leave you here with a video of some brave soul who recreated that last scene for some sort of acting audition.


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