The latest challenge was to submit an extract from a politician’s speech ghostwritten by a well-known comedian.
At the 1990 Tory party conference in Bournemouth, Margaret Thatcher famously appropriated Monty Python’s Dead Parrot sketch to mock the Liberal Democrats’ new flying bird logo. But although Mrs T. gamely went along with her speechwriters’ suggestion to include the gag, it has since been revealed that a) she hadn’t actually heard of Monty Python and b) she didn’t entirely get the joke. ‘This Monty Python,’ she asked. ‘Are you sure he’s one of us?’
The most popular ghostwriter-comedian by a long way was Frankie Howerd (the lone Python voice in the entry was Graham Chapman’s). And while he was joined by a host of old-school stars of light entertainment — Tommy Cooper, Eric Morecambe and Ken Dodd — contemporary comics were few and far between.
Paul Carpenter’s imagining of Theresa May channelling Peter Cook’s E.L. Wisty was good, and commendations also go to Alan Millard, Anne du Croz and Josh Ekroy. But leading the pack, in what was a testing week, are the five printed below, whose entries earn them £30 each. Sylvia Fairley takes the bonus fiver.
Sylvia Fairley/Frankie Howerd
Ooh no, I shan’t flaunt it, won’t raise it in public …(madam, please! Settle down, now…) Where was I? Oh, yes, I’m to be the unofficial adviser to The Donald — no, really! Lovely man, Donald, he wanted me as ambassador, but Theresa said no. Nice lady, I’m sure, but she can be nasty when she wants. Says I’m not up to it — nay, titter ye not, ladies and gentlemen, mock not the afflicted. No, please! He knows what I’ve done to the UK …oh yes, they all love me over there …so, what with one thing and another — mostly the other — Donald’s realised he needs my help to make America great again! Adviser to the president elect – will this change me? Not on your Nellie! Nay, nay and thrice nay, it won’t make me proud and stiff …(please, madam, we don’t sink that low, not outside the White House…)
Bill Greenwell/Tommy Cooper
Terrible dream last night. Dreamt I was eating a barrel of lard. Woke up in the morning, Boris was gone. Went to the doctor’s, I said, Squawk-a-doodle! Moo! He said, That’s just cock-and-bull. But seriously, we must help those just about managing to join fitness clubs. The gym-jams. So, I went to see Philip Hammond. He had 15 ledgers on his nose. I said, what’re you doing? He said, balancing the books. I sent Liam Fox to deal with the Europeans: smarmy, glib, talking gibberish, but he’s always so loyal. This pollster said, who’s to blame? I said, You, guv. Carney came in, just like that, maybe like that, he said, the balloon’s going up. I said, I thought you hated inflation. Went to see Corbyn, told him, Hoppit, gave him some stick. It was a pogo stick. Forget Cameron: sardonic, posh. A complete wry toff.
G.M. Davis/Tony Hancock
I’ll have you know I’m proud of East Cheam, voting to get our country back. Yes, I cast my ballot for Brexit, and don’t you believe all that talk about the chav vote. I can assure you that the blood that runs in my veins is a hundred per cent middle-class. But even your lowbrow proletarian has a deep sense of patriotism, especially if he’s been priced out of a job by someone like the Pole who worked wonders on our boiler for next to nothing or sneered at by some intellectual in the Guardian. The Remainers are moaning that the future is uncertain. What’s that to a man of my calibre? Oh yes, I can sense the awakening of that old, defiant, go-it-alone spirit when we stood up and shook our fists at Hitler. East Cheam did it then. East Cheam will do it again.
Alanna Blake/Bruce Forsyth
Glad to be speaking to you, to be speaking to you, glad. A few words on the topic you want to hear about most. What will I speak about? (raises hand to encourage audience’s reply).
Louder! (waits for second response).
Yes. Brexit. Now we all know what Brexit means. What does Brexit mean? (Audience shout ‘Brexit’.)
Right. And we know what kind of Brexit we want. A hard Brexit. Hard. Not difficult, just hard. You won’t mind if I do a little foot tapping to help make my point? It’ll give you a chance to notice my new shoes. (Waits for laughs.)
So the opposite of hard is soft. Why not go for a soft Brexit? We’ve considered that. But we’re not softies, are we? Are we softies? (Waits for negative reply. Then raises hand to ear.) Louder!
Right, that’s it. We’re hard. Hard Right. Thank you and good night.
Adrian Fry/Alexei Sayle
I hate Brexit, me. I may be a madman, but at least I’m an internationalist Marxist Leninist madman. Besides, Brexit sounds like some poncy cereal — all capitalist sugar frosting and monosodium glutamate — your mum gave you in the 1960s before amphetamines came off the ration. Brexit: it’s one of those fabricated advertising words like Snickers, Bertoli or Liberal Democrat. People say I’m lukewarm on Brexit because I’m not jumping up and down in a tight suit swearing about it. But that’s like saying Stalin was lukewarm about the kulaks just because you never saw him personally shoot one through the temples. I wanted to be European in the 1970s: they had wine lakes, butter mountains and a slick of Sacha Distel. Nowadays, they only produce directives — and you can’t eat them; I’ve tried. Anyway, when I declare Britain a Socialist Republic, they’ll be joining us!
W.W. Jacobs wrote the macabre mini-masterpiece ‘The Monkey’s Paw’. Your next challenge is to supply a chilling short story featuring an animal’s body part. Please email entries, wherever possible, of up to 150 words to email@example.com by midday on 25 January.