On Good Friday – the day that Jesus died – I got to thinking about the people who have passed from my world of comedy and I thought it would be appropriate to pay my brief tribute to each of themâ€¦
Or Zed. I am not really sure how it was spelt. Z is a name that will mean very little to people reading this. He was a member of the comedy class that I took many years ago. Z was never going to forge a career as a comic but he was popular and I liked him very much. Quickly, he became cursed with a pernicious disease – motor neurones I think – and he quickly faded. In those days of doing open spots, we all died regularly on stage and as we sat in a circle listening to teachers like Eddie Izzard, full of hope and awe, none of us could have known that Zed was soon to die off stage as well. How sad this would have been had we known this at the time and it would have put in to perspective how trivial it was what we were all trying to achieve.
The producer of Have I Got News For You – amongst many other shows, he was a producer on the up. A man with too many talents. Effortlessly funny and clever. An Oxbridge graduate with an easy look that attracted much attention. A damn good bloke and a fan of mine as well; how I wish now that he was still with us. I hadn’t heard from Harry in a while and then one day – working at my desk on some film or maybe a novel – I heard his name mentioned on the radio as a potential Booker prize winner. This was typical Harry. He writes a novel and it flies, landing him on the illustrious short list. I don’t do jealousy. Never have done and so I was pleased for Harry as I googled his name, hopeful that I might have heard correctly. And sure enough, there it was. Harry Thompson had been long listed for the Booker for his debut novel. The old buggar.
So you can imagine then my hurt as I continued to read and discovered that he had terminal cancer. Elation and desolation in a brief moment I will never forget.
Such a surprise to learn of his passing. A testament to the man that it surprised us all because in our mawkish world where grief is increasingly worn as a badge and propped up by social media – Felix worked up until his body would allow and he told almost no one that he was about to pass. A classy guy who I admired greatly.
Linda is an arch leftie with whom I agreed on practically nothing. But so what? I liked her enormously. She once told me back stage that doing gigs terrified her and then I liked her even more. Like Felix, she bore her illness with incredible dignity. One time I recall we did 3 hours of live radio together and with plenty of breaks and chewing the fat – Linda never mentioned her condition at all which makes me feel both proud of my friend but also a little bit sad.
An outrageously funny act. A camp comic who was much so better than the pantomime queens we have become accustomed to laughing at. Everyone loved Jason, audiences included. We once did a disastrous benefit gig in Bloomsbury – full of public school ‘too cool for school’ lefties – a nightmare gig. They ignored Jason. With all his theatricality and bravado singing, they barely registered that he was even on stage – so what chance did I have following him? Er, none. Jason would have become a huge LE star but one night he went to bed and never woke up. A loss for us all.
Words fail me about the passing of this inimitable comedy agent. The man was a lion of comedy, he affected everyone he met. And because he was responsible for some of the UK’s most cherished comedians, it is not an exaggeration to say that the whole of the UK owes Addison a thanks for cheering us up.
These days, we live in an increasingly secular world. Outside of being a Buddhist, no religion is really tolerable for the liberal elite – and just upsetting them is really enough incentive to start evangelising.
But whether God exists or not. Jesus of Nazareth did live. This is irrefutable as is the fact that his life and legacy is the greatest impact on our world than any person before or since – and I hope that God does exist because I would like to believe that someone is taking care of all of the above.