Continuing my top five gadgets – inspired by the work of Stephen Fry.
My number three is the Walkman. Now my number four, three and two are al very similar. But whereas I love the iPod for opening new audio vistas, I loved the Walkman for helping me discover comedy.
As a kid, I loved comedy. My tastes leaned toward the slapstick and the pratfall. Growing up I was treated to the Muppets, the Banana Splits, the Monkees, Harold Lloyd, Laurel and Hardy and the Goodies. These I adored.
School summer holidays were wall to wall classic comedy flicks and 1960s kid show repeats. I still think kids are missing out on something due to their absence from the telly. Sorry but Ben 10 is no match for Abbott and Costello, Bob and Bing or a man in glasses hanging off a clock.
But comedy, real adult comedy with a love of language, puns and word play was something that was opened to me thanks to the Walkman.
I think I got my first personal cassette player in about 1984. It was a Binatone model. A cheap version of the Sony original. I also ended up owning (i’m not sure how) a comedy compilation album. It was a kind of Now That’s What I Call Funny. A series of sketches or stand-up from some of the best comedians to ever have ever recorded a gag.
I still remember some of them. Monty Python’s Spam sketch, the Parrot sketch and the cheese shop. There was Bob Newhart and Woody Allen. It was fantastic. I listened to that album a lot. I probably head Monty Python before I properly watched them.
I then managed to lay my hands on copies of Rowan Atkinson in Belfast – I can still pretty much recite Welcome to Hell, the wedding sketches and sing Do Bears sha-la-la-la in the woods…
It’s true what they say the pictures are better on radio. To this day I adore radio comedy. Milton Jones, Mitchell and Webb, The Mighty Boosh, Chris Addison. I don’t think I would be so keen to catch old episodes of Old Harry’s Game, Nick Revell etc if it hadn’t been for my Binatone Walkman.
Coming next: The Radio