On this week's episode of Le Show, Harry Shearer paid tribute to recently deceased radio personality Brian Clewer, who hosted the radio program "Cynic's Choice" on LA-area radio for more than 40 years. Clewer's program featured lots of British comedy, and Shearer played a few examples on his program from Peter Sellers, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, and Flanders and Swann. This got me thinking about the British comedy I was listening to when I was in grad school ages ago, when the local public radio station used to air the amazing "Round The Horne", a BBC radio comedy program that made its name in the mid-to-late 1960s by pushing the limits of the British double entendre.
For the musical portion of the comedy, they relied on the amazing Kenneth Williams and his rustic folksinger character Rambling Syd Rumpo. The joke was that Syd was supposedly singing old English folk tunes with long-forgotten archaic words, but the lyrics (written by Barry Took and Marty Feldman) were an equal combination of sly innuendo and hilarious nonsense. It's better to demonstrate rather than try to explain, so in honor of Clewer's passing here are a small selection of Rambling Syd Rumpo songs that are sure to gladden your earholes and tug at your artefacts.
Rambling Syd Rumpo - his first appearance
Rambling Syd Rumpo - An Orangutang Who Would A-Wooing Go
Rambling Syd Rumpo - The Somerset Nog
Rambling Syd Rumpo - The Ganderboggling Song
Rambling Syd Rumpo - The Runcorn Splod Cobblers Song
There's plenty more where that came from; the "Round The Horne" radio shows are available from old-time radio show collectors (do a search for "Round the Horne" mp3 CD) and also on CD from the BBC in a very nice series of boxed sets that are heart-stoppingly expensive but recommended for the serious collector. A live CD, The Very Best of Rambling Syd Rumpo, is available through the UK iTunes store.