Tag Archives: comedy

Almanac – April 02

742 – Charlemagne born. King of the Franks from 768, the King of Italy from 774, the first Holy Roman Emperor,  called the “Father of Europe” (pater Europae),  his empire united most of Western Europe for the first time since the Roman Empire.

His rule spurred the Carolingian Renaissance, a revival of art, religion, and culture through the medium of the Catholic Church. Through his foreign conquests and internal reforms, Charlemagne encouraged the formation of a common European identity.  Both the French and German monarchies considered their kingdoms to be descendants of Charlemagne’s empire.

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1725 – Giacomo Casanova born.  Italian adventurer and author from the Republic of Venice.

He was, by vocation and avocation, a lawyer, clergyman, military officer, violinist, con man, pimp, gourmand, dancer, businessman, diplomat, spy, politician, medic, mathematician, social philosopher, cabalist, playwright, and writer. He wrote over twenty works, including plays and essays, and many letters. His novel Icosameron is an early work of science fiction.

He has become so famous for his often complicated and elaborate affairs with women that his name is now synonymous with “womanizer“.

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1891 – Max Ernst born. German painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet. A prolific artist, Ernst was a primary pioneer of the Dada movement and Surrealism.

Ernst developed a fascination with birds that was prevalent in his work. His alter ego in paintings, which he called Loplop, was a bird. He suggested that this alter-ego was an extension of himself stemming from an early confusion of birds and humans.

 He said that one night when he was young he woke up and found that his beloved bird had died, and a few minutes later his father announced that his sister was born. Loplop often appeared in collages of other artists’ work, such as Loplop presents André Breton.

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1928 – Serge Gainsbourg born. French singer, songwriter, poet, composer, artist, actor and director. Regarded as one of the most important figures in French popular music, he was renowned for his often provocative and scandalous releases, as well as his diverse artistic output, which embodied genres ranging from jazz, chanson, pop and yé-yé, to reggae, funk, rock, electronic and disco music.

Gainsbourg’s extremely varied musical style and individuality make him difficult to categorize. His legacy has been firmly established, and he is often regarded as one of the world’s most influential popular musicians.

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1941 – Dr. Demento born. American radio broadcaster and record collector specializing in novelty songs, comedy, and strange or unusual recordings dating from the early days of phonograph records to the present.

He is credited with introducing new generations of listeners to artists of the early and middle twentieth century whom they may not have otherwise discovered, such as Haywire Mac, Spike Jones, Benny Bell, Yogi Yorgesson, and Tom Lehrer, as well as with bringing parodist “Weird Al” Yankovic to national attention.

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2003 – Edwin Starr died.  American soul music singer. Starr is most famous for his Norman Whitfield produced Motown singles of the 1970s, most notably the number one hit “War”.

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Almanac – February 27

1940 – Bill Hunter born.  Australian actor of film, stage and television, appearing in more than 60 films.

Of acting, Hunter said, “As long as the direc­tor told me where to stand and what to say, I was happy. Any­one who says there’s any more to it than that, is full of bullshit. … It’s a job. It is a craft, but there’s no art involved. What you need is com­mon sense and a rea­son­ably rough head. You put on the makeup and the wardrobe, and that is half the per­for­mance. That upsets the purists, but never mind, they don’t work as much as I do.”

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1968 – Frankie Lymon died. American rock and roll/rhythm and blues singer and songwriter, best known as the boy soprano lead singer of a New York City-based early rock and roll group, The Teenagers.

He was found dead from a heroin overdose, aged 25,  in his grandmother’s bathroom .

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2006 – Linda Smith died.  British stand-up comic and comedy writer. She appeared regularly on Radio 4 panel games, and was voted “Wittiest Living Person” by listeners in 2002.

Her style was described as beguiling, apparently vulnerable and whimsical, but often waspish. She excelled at deadpan diatribes about everyday irritations.

She died as a consequence of ovarian cancer at the age of 48.

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Almanac – February 22

1797 – The Last Invasion of Britain began,  near Fishguard, Wales,  by Revolutionary France during the War of the First Coalition. The brief campaign, which took place between 22 February and 24 February 1797, was the most recent effort by a foreign force that was able to land on British soil.

The invasion was the plan of General Lazare Hoche, who had devised a three-pronged attack on Britain in support of Irish Republicans under Wolfe Tone. Two forces would land in Britain as a diversionary effort, while the main body would land in Ireland. While poor weather and indiscipline halted two of the forces, the third, aimed at landing in Wales and marching on Bristol, went ahead.

The invasion force consisted of 1,400 troops from the La Legion Noire (The Black Legion) under the command of Irish American Colonel William Tate, 800 of whom were irregulars.

Upon landing discipline broke down amongst the irregulars, many of whom deserted to loot nearby settlements. The remaining troops were met by a quickly assembled group of around 500 British reservists, militia and sailors under the command of John Campbell, 1st Baron Cawdor. After brief clashes with the local civilian population and Lord Cawdor’s forces on 23 February, Tate was forced into an unconditional surrender by 24 February.

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1900 – Luis Buñuel born. Spanish filmmaker . Often associated with the Surrealist movement of the 1920s, Buñuel created films in six decades, from the 1920s through the 1970s.

His work spans two continents, three languages, and nearly every film genre, including experimental film, documentary, melodrama, satire, musical, erotica, comedy, romance, costume dramas, fantasy, crime film, adventure, and western.

Despite this variety, filmmaker John Huston believed that, regardless of genre, a Buñuel film is so distinctive as to be instantly recognizable, or, as Ingmar Bergman put it, “Buñuel nearly always made Buñuel films.”

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1918 – Robert Wadlow born. The tallest person in history for whom there is irrefutable evidence.  He  reached 8 ft 11.1 in (2.72 m) in height and weighed 439 lb (199 kg) at his death at age 22.

His great size and his continued growth in adulthood were due to hyperplasia of his pituitary gland, which results in an abnormally high level of human growth hormone. He showed no indication of an end to his growth even at the time of his death.

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1950 – Genesis Breyer P-Orridge born. English singer-songwriter, musician, poet, writer and performance artist.

In the latter capacity s/he was the founder of the COUM Transmissions artistic collective, which operated from 1969 through to 1975, while as a musician, P-Orridge fronted the pioneering industrial band Throbbing Gristle, from 1975 through to 1981, and then the acid house band, Psychic TV, from 1981 through to 1999.

An occultist, s/he is also a founding member of Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth.

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1987 – Andy Warhol died. American artist who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. His works explore the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertisement that flourished by the 1960s. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became a renowned and sometimes controversial artist.

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Almanac – February 09

1966 – Sophie Tucker died.  Ukraine born  singer, comedian, actress and radio personality. Known for her stentorian delivery of comical and risqué songs, she was one of the most popular entertainers in America during the first half of the 20th century,  widely known as “The Last of the Red Hot Mamas.”

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1981 – Bill Haley died. Credited by many with first popularizing rock n roll  in the early 1950s with his group Bill Haley & His Comets and million selling hits such as, “Rock Around the Clock”, “See You Later Alligator”, and “Shake Rattle and Roll“. He has sold over 100 million records worldwide.

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Almanac – August 3

1719“A Woman, who had served the Lady Anne Harvey for about 16 years in the Quality of a Coachman, and always behaved very well, was brought to bed of a Child, to the Inexpressible Suprize of the Family, who always took her for a Man.”

The Original Weekly Journal, 1719

1527 – The first known letter from North America  sent by John Rut while at St. John’s, Newfoundland. Rut was an English mariner  who was chosen by Henry VIII to command an expedition to North America in search of the Northwest Passage; he set sail from Plymouth with two ships, on 10 June 1527.

1916 – Sir Roger Casement hanged.  Humanitarian campaigner and an Irish patriot, poet, revolutionary and nationalist.He sought to obtain German support for a rebellion in Ireland against British rule. Shortly before the Easter Rising, he  was arrested and subsequently convicted and executed by the British for treason by John Ellis and his assistants at Pentonville Prison in London.

1934 – Adolf Hitler became  the supreme leader of Germany by joining the offices of President and Chancellor into Führer.

1955 – The English-language version of Samuel Beckett‘s play Waiting For Godot first performed, at the Arts Theatre, London.

It was not an immediate success – on hearing the now famous lines “Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful !”, a member of the audience is said to have retorted “Hear ! Hear !”.

1966 – Lenny Bruce died. American comedian, social critic and satirist. His 1964 conviction in an obscenity trial was followed by a posthumous pardon, the first in New York state history. He was renowned for his open, free-style, dangerous and critical form of comedy which integrated politics, religion, and sex. His tumultuous private life marked by substance abuse, promiscuity, as well as his efforts to prevent his wife from working as a stripper, made him a compelling figure. He paved the way for future outspoken comedians, and his trial for obscenity, in which – after being forced into bankruptcy – he was eventually found not guilty is seen as a landmark trial for freedom of speech.
Official cause of death was “acute morphine poisoning caused by an accidental overdose.

Mr. Frankenstein

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