Featuring: Ricky Gervais

Today I’m featuring a comedian who is funny, daft, sensitive and deadly honest. I love this man as he always searches for truths and can turn sadness into laughter. He is a realist and makes many of us aware of our human emotions, all in good spirit.

Ricky Dene Gervais (1961) is an English comedian, actor, director, and writer. He is best known for co-creating, co-writing, and acting in the British television mockumentary sitcom The Office (2001–2003). He has won seven BAFTA Awards, five British Comedy Awards, two Emmy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, and the Rose d’Or twice (2006 and 2019), and has been nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award. In 2007, he was placed at No. 11 on Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups, and at No. 3 in their 2010 list. In 2010, he was included in the Time 100 list of World’s Most Influential People.

Gervais initially worked in the music industry. He attempted a career as a pop star in the 1980s as the singer of the new-wave act Seona Dancing, and managed the then-unknown band Suede before turning to comedy. He appeared on The 11 O’Clock Show on Channel 4 between 1998 and 2000, garnering a reputation as an outspoken and sharp-witted social provocateur. In 2000, he was given a Channel 4 spoof talk show, Meet Ricky Gervais. He achieved greater mainstream fame the following year with his BBC television mock documentary series The Office, followed by Extras in 2005, both of which he co-wrote and co-directed with Stephen Merchant, and in which he played the lead roles of David Brent (The Office) and Andy Millman (Extras). He starred in the 2016 comedy film David Brent: Life on the Road, which he also wrote and directed.

Gervais began his stand-up career in the late 1990s. He has performed five multinational stand-up comedy tours, and he wrote the Flanimals book series. Gervais, Merchant, and Karl Pilkington created the podcast The Ricky Gervais Show, which has spawned various spin-offs starring Pilkington and produced by Gervais and Merchant. Gervais has also starred in the Hollywood films Ghost Town, the Night at the Museum trilogy, For Your Consideration, and Muppets Most Wanted. He wrote, directed, and starred in The Invention of Lying and the Netflix-released Special Correspondents. He hosted the Golden Globe Awards in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2016, and again in 2020. Gervais also appeared on the game show Child Support. He is also the creator, executive producer, director, and writer of the Netflix comedy series After Life, where he plays the lead role of Tony Johnson.

Gervais attended Whitley Park Infants and Junior Schools and received his secondary education at Ashmead Comprehensive School. After a gap year which he spent working as a gardener at the University of Reading, he attended University College London (UCL) in 1980. He intended to study biology but changed to philosophy after two weeks, and was awarded an upper second-class honours degree in the subject from University of London in 1983. During his time there, he met Jane Fallon, with whom he has been in a relationship since 1982.

In 1983, during his final year as a student at University College London, Gervais and his best friend Bill Macrae formed the new wave pop duo Seona Dancing. They were signed by London Records, which released two of their singles—”More to Lose” and “Bitter Heart”. The songs failed to make the UK Singles Chart. Despite not being successful in the UK, Seona Dancing did manage to score a hit in the Philippines with “More to Lose”. Gervais also worked as the manager for Suede before they became successful in the 1990s.

In 2013, Gervais performed a live tour as David Brent along with his band Foregone Conclusion, Brent’s fictional band in The Office. He and the band performed songs written under the Brent character, including “Equality Street” and “Free Love Freeway”. Gervais also produced a series of YouTube videos, ‘Learn Guitar with David Brent’, featuring acoustic guitar versions of nine songs.

In 2016, as part of the Life on the Road film promotion, Gervais published the David Brent Songbook of 15 songs, which he also recorded for the album Life on the Road as David Brent and Foregone Conclusion.

After the first series of The Office, Gervais and Merchant worked at Xfm in November 2001 for a Saturday radio show, where they began working with Karl Pilkington, who produced the shows and later collaborated with them on their series of podcasts. In October 2017, Gervais began hosting the weekly radio show Ricky Gervais Is Deadly Sirius on Sirius XM, which ran until 2019.

Ricky also did some podcasting featuring Gervais, Merchant, and Karl Pilkington. Throughout January and February 2006 the podcast was consistently ranked the number 1 podcast in the world. It appeared in the 2007 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most-downloaded podcast, with an average 261,670 downloads per episode during its first month. Two more series, each with six podcasts, were released between February and September 2006.

In late 2006, three more free podcasts were released. Together called “The Podfather Trilogy”, they debuted individually at Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.These three were known by Gervais and Merchant as “The Fourth Season”. In October 2007 another free full-length podcast was released through iTunes, after being originally given out for free during a performance of Gervais’s Fame stand-up tour in London. On 25 November 2007 Gervais, Merchant and Pilkington released another free podcast of just over one hour.

In August 2008, Gervais, Merchant and Pilkington recorded their fifth series of audiobooks, totalling four chapters, which were released on 16 September 2008, and described as the ‘Guide To…’ series. As of May 2011, there are 12 ‘Guides’ to Medicine, Natural History, Arts, Philosophy, The English, Society, Law & Order, The Future, The Human Body, The Earth, The World Cup 2010, and Comic Relief. The conversations typically begin on topic and go out on tangents about other subjects.

In 2021, Gervais launched a paid-for audio series, Absolutely Mental, of his conversations with philosopher Sam Harris. Season 2 was also launched in 2021, followed by season 3 in March 2022.

Initially Gervais was most famous for the series The Office. The Office started when Stephen Merchant had to make his own short film while on a BBC production course. In August 1999 he made a docu-soap parody, set in an office, with help from Ash Atalla who was shown a 7-minute video called ‘The Seedy Boss’. Thus the character of David Brent was created. Merchant passed this tape on to the BBC’s Head of Entertainment Paul Jackson at the Edinburgh Fringe, who then passed it on to Head of Comedy Jon Plowman, who eventually commissioned a full-pilot script from Merchant and Gervais.

The first six-episode series of The Office aired in the UK in July and August 2001 to little fanfare or attention. Word-of-mouth, repeats, and DVDs helped spread the word, building up momentum and anticipation for the second series, also comprising six episodes. Following the success of The Office’s second series, Gervais was named the most powerful person in TV comedy by Radio Times.

In 2004, The Office won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy as well as Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy for Gervais, who said in a 2015 BBC interview that the award was the gateway to America for him.

The Office brand has since been remade for audiences in Sweden, France, Germany, Quebec, Brazil, Chile, The Czech Republic, Finland, India, Israel, Poland and the United States. Gervais and Merchant are producers of the American version, and they also co-wrote the episode “The Convict” for the show’s third season. Gervais has said that the episode “Training” is his favourite, where Brent plays his guitar and sings. In 2021, on the show’s 20th anniversary, he suggested the show would not have been produced in 2021 due to cancel culture: “I mean, now it would be cancelled. I’m looking forward to when they pick out one thing and try to cancel it. Someone said they might try to cancel it one day, and I say, ‘Good let them cancel it—I’ve been paid!’

Ricky also starred in a series called Extras. Extras had its debut on the BBC on 21 July 2005 and was directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. The sitcom ran for twelve episodes and starred Gervais as Andy Millman, a background artist. Millman is more self-aware and intentionally humorous than Gervais’s The Office character David Brent. Guest stars on the first series of Extras include Ross Kemp, Les Dennis, Patrick Stewart, Vinnie Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Stiller, Kate Winslet and Francesca Martinez. A second series began on 14 September 2006 in the UK and featured appearances by Daniel Radcliffe, Dame Diana Rigg, Orlando Bloom, Sir Ian McKellen, Chris Martin, Keith Chegwin, Robert Lindsay, Warwick Davis, Ronnie Corbett, Stephen Fry, Richard Briers, Patricia Potter, Sophia Myles, Moira Stuart, David Bowie, Robert De Niro and Jonathan Ross.

A Rolling Stone article remarks that in making Extras, Gervais was influenced by Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, particularly in the format of celebrities making fools of themselves or subverting their public personas. I might like to add that Gervais don’t shy away from a good old ‘roast’, something that some comedians do, like Don Rickles, when they take the piss out of another celebrity just for fun.

In 2007, Gervais won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his portrayal of Andy Millman in the second series of Extras. As Gervais was not present at the awards ceremony, the trophy was accepted on his behalf by Steve Carell, the actor who starred as regional manager Michael Scott—the counterpart to Gervais’s David Brent—on the American adaptation of The Office.

The Ricky Gervais Show is an animated TV show that debuted on US cable network HBO on 19 February 2010. In the UK, the first series began airing on 23 April 2010 on Channel 4. The show was developed using original podcast recordings from The Ricky Gervais Show starring Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and Karl Pilkington. After receiving an enthusiastic following in the US, HBO recommissioned the show for a second series, which aired in 2011, and a third series which started airing in April 2012.

Life’s Too Short began airing on BBC Two on 10 November 2011.Gervais and Stephen Merchant wrote this sitcom from an idea by Warwick Davis. It is described by Gervais as being about “the life of a showbiz dwarf” and as “a cross between Extras and The Office”. The show stars actor Davis playing a fictionalised version of himself, as well as Gervais and Merchant. Premium cable channel HBO, which co-produced the series with the BBC, had the US rights and began airing the series on 19 February 2012.

Another of creations was a show called An Idiot Abroad, a travel documentary where a reluctant Karl Pilkington travels around the world, with his reactions to people and places recorded. Occasionally, Gervais and Merchant call to surprise him with a new place to visit or task to do. Pilkington reports back mostly complaining about the situation. Gervais says there is no planning; a camera crew follows his friend around filming for many hours, which Gervais edits down to an hour each episode.

Two series and a Christmas special have aired; series one involves Pilkington visiting the Seven Wonders of the World. In the second show he chooses to complete tasks from a bucket list provided by Gervais and in the special Warwick Davis joins Pilkington on a journey following Marco Polo’s route from Italy to China.

In November 2011, Gervais filmed in London a 35-minute pilot episode for a potential comedy-drama series called Derek, which aired on Channel 4 on 12 April 2012.The pilot is solely written and directed by Gervais and features him in the title role of Derek Noakes, a 49-year-old retirement home worker, who “loves animals, Rolf Harris, Jesus, Deal or No Deal, Million Pound Drop, and Britain’s Got Talent.” The character first appeared in a 2001 Edinburgh Festival Fringe sketch as an aspiring comedian who loves animals and still lives with his mother. Gervais’s co-host Karl Pilkington makes his acting debut as Derek’s friend and facilities-caretaker Dougie who also works in the retirement home. British comedian Kerry Godliman plays Derek’s best friend Hannah and David Earl plays Kev.

Gervais said that the series is about “kindness [being] more important than anything else”. He added “It’s about the forgotten—everyone’s forgotten. It’s all these arbitrary people who didn’t know each other, and they’re in there now because they’re in the last years of their life. And it’s about the people who help them, who themselves are losers and have their own problems. It’s about a bunch of people with nothing, but making the most of it, and they’re together.” He chose to set the sitcom in a retirement home after he watched Secret Millionaire—”It was always these people with huge problems who were helping other people. I thought about having Derek help old people because no one cares about old people in this country … I think it’s perfect for now.”

On 9 May 2018, it was announced that Netflix had given a production order for the first season of the comedy drama After Life. It was created and directed by Gervais, who also starred in it and executive-produced it with Duncan Hayes, with Charlie Hanson as producer; the series premiered on 8 March 2019.On 3 April 2019, Netflix renewed the series for a second season, which launched on 24 April 2020.In May 2020 it was announced that Gervais had signed a new deal with Netflix, including a third season of After Life. Before the announcement Gervais said, “For the first time ever, I would do a series three, because the world’s so rich. I love the characters, I love all the actors in it, I love my character, I love the town, I love the themes… I love the dog!”

Gervais began his stand-up career in the late 1990s. His first successful show was at the Cafe Royal as part of the 2001 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Titled Rubbernecker, it also featured Jimmy Carr, Robin Ince and Stephen Merchant.

Gervais toured the UK in 2003 with his stand-up show Animals. The Politics tour followed a year later. Both shows were recorded for release on DVD and television broadcast. The third part of the themed live trilogy, Fame, took place in 2007. It started in Glasgow in January and ended in Sheffield in April. Blackpool reported selling out of tickets within 45 minutes of them going on sale.

Ricky Gervais also does stand-up comedy, animation, he writes children’s books and is often a guest on talk shows and sometimes hosts the Golden Globe Awards, etc.

Gervais’s film career has included small roles as the voice of a pigeon, Bugsy, in 2005’s Valiant, as a studio executive in 2006’s For Your Consideration,as museum director Dr. McPhee in 2006’s Night at the Museum and its sequels Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, and as “Ferdy the Fence” in the 2007 film Stardust.

Gervais starred in Ghost Town (2008) as a dentist who sees spirits, and was in Lowell, Massachusetts during May 2008 filming his next project, The Invention of Lying (2009), in which he starred alongside Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe and Louis C.K.. The social comedy was co-written and co-directed by Gervais and Matt Robinson.

Gervais directed and starred in, Special Correspondents, which began filming in May 2015. The comedy stars Eric Bana as a journalist and Gervais as his assistant. They pretend to report news from a war torn country but in actuality they are safe in New York. The film was released on Netflix. Gervais directed and starred in the 2016 film David Brent: Life on the Road, a mockumentary following David Brent, a character first seen in The Office series, as he lives his dream of being a rockstar. On 5 November 2015 Gervais signed up to play Ika Chu, a villainous cat, in an animated film Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank, originally known as Blazing Samurai. The movie is about a dog (Hank) played by Michael Cera, who wants to be a warrior and fights with Ika Chu for the town of Kakamucho.

Gervais has homes in Hampstead, London, and Marlow, Buckinghamshire. He also has an apartment in the Barbizon 63 building in New York City. He has been in a relationship with producer and author Jane Fallon since 1982, and says they chose not to marry because “there’s no point in us having an actual ceremony before the eyes of God because there is no God” or have children because they “didn’t fancy dedicating 16 years of [their] lives … and there are too many children, of course”.

He is a vegan, an atheist and a humanist, and states that he abandoned religion at the age of eight. In December 2010, he wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal defending his atheism. He is an honorary associate of the UK’s National Secular Society and a patron of Humanists UK, a British charity that promotes the humanist worldview and campaigns for a secular state and on human rights issues. On 3 September 2019, he received the 2019 Richard Dawkins Award, which recognises people who proclaim “the values of secularism and rationalism, upholding scientific truths wherever it may lead.” Gervais received the award during a Centre for Inquiry-sponsored ceremony at London’s Troxy Theatre. Dawkins praised Gervais as a “witty hero of atheism and reason.”

Gervais is a fan of the UFC and Reading F.C. He is a music fan and has stated that his hero is David Bowie, with his favourite song being “Letter to Hermione”. He has also stated that his first experience of a live music gig was watching Iggy Pop. In 2013, he wrote that Lou Reed was “one of the greatest artists of our time” following Reed’s death.

Gervais is a fervent supporter of gay rights and has praised the introduction of same-sex marriage in England and Wales as “a victory for all of us”, saying “anything that promotes equality, promotes progress … You can’t take equality ‘too far’.”

Gervais joined Twitter in December 2009 when he first hosted the 66th Golden Globes. After a two-year hiatus, he returned to the platform in September 2011.In 2012, Gervais won a Shorty Award for Lifetime Achievement for his popular presence on social media. As of April 2022 he was followed by 14.7 million fans whom he calls ‘Twonks’.

Gervais uses social media to promote his work to his fans. After ten years he brought back his character Brent on his YouTube channel in a web series Learn Guitar with David Brent. He uses many ways to promote his new series, for example for Derek, he posts contests or questions for his fans.

Gervais uses social media to raise awareness of animal welfare. He tweets links to petitions to rescue animals from captivity, he highlights the plight of animals being used for testing, and he encourages people to adopt dogs instead of buying them from breeders. He won the Genesis Award from the Humane Society in March 2015 for his contribution to raising awareness for animal welfare on social media. In 2014, he was named most influential London Twitter user.

Gervais has cited Laurel & Hardy, Groucho Marx, Peter Cook, and Christopher Guest as significant influences.

Gervais is a supporter of animal rights and has stated that he will leave his fortune to animal charities. Gervais named an Asian black bear, also known as a moonbear, Derek after the protagonist from his series Derek. In December 2013, Gervais bought a $1000 cake shaped like a moonbear to raise funds for Animal Asia. Gervais is active in the prevention of illegal wildlife trade; he supported the handing over of ivory trinkets to the Metropolitan police in London.

In 2015, Gervais donated a signed acoustic guitar to help raise funds for Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Ontario, Canada, with a special call-out to Pockets Warhol. The guitar which was signed by Gervais was purchased by Danny Young from the United Kingdom who has since had the guitar signed by several celebrities in order to raise further funds for the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary. Celebrities who signed the guitar include: Brian May, Will Ferrell, Bryan Cranston, Dhani Harrison, Peter Frampton, Ricky Warwick, and Steve Cutts.

In 2017, Gervais was awarded the Lord Houghton Award for Service to Animal Welfare from Animal Defenders International Gervais was also awarded the Humane Society International Cecil Award in 2018 for his frequent social media efforts to end trophy hunting.

Check him out (or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

The WordPress Zone

There is a sixth dimension
beyond that which is known to man
It is a dimension
as vast as space
and as timeless as infinity

It is the middle ground
between language and emotion
between wit and drama
and it lies between the pit of man’s fears
and the summit of our knowledge

This is the dimension of creativity
It is an area which I call
“The WordPress Zone”

(based on the Twilight Zone intro)

Featuring: David Lynch

Today I am featuring my all time favorite director of film and series. This man needs no introduction to those who are fans of his works or art yet some may not know yet of this extravagant artist who shows us that it’s ok to get lost in dreamscapes. Anyone who has watched any of his series Twin Peaks or films like Lost Highway will know what I’m talking about. David Lynch is also a very positive person and patient with his staff and film crew, allowing them to get the best out of themselves.

David Keith Lynch (born January 20, 1946) is an American filmmaker, painter, musician, writer and actor. His films led to him being labeled “the first popular surrealist” by film critic Pauline Kael. A recipient of an Academy Honorary Award in 2019, Lynch has received three Academy Award nominations for Best Director, and the César Award for Best Foreign Film twice, as well as the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and a Golden Lion award for lifetime achievement at the Venice Film Festival. In 2007, a panel of critics convened by The Guardian announced that ‘after all the discussion, no one could fault the conclusion that David Lynch is the most important film-maker of the current era’, while AllMovie called him “the Renaissance man of modern American filmmaking”.

Lynch initially studied painting before he began making short films in the late 1960s. His first feature-length film, the surrealist horror Eraserhead (1977), became a success on the midnight movie circuit, and he followed that by directing The Elephant Man (1980), Dune (1984), and Blue Velvet (1986). Lynch next created his own television series with Mark Frost, the popular murder mystery Twin Peaks (1990–91), which ran for two seasons. He also created the film prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), the road film Wild at Heart (1990), and the family film The Straight Story (1999) in the same period. Turning further towards surrealist filmmaking, three of his subsequent films operated on dream logic non-linear narrative structures: Lost Highway (1997), Mulholland Drive (2001), and Inland Empire (2006). Lynch and Frost reunited in 2017 for a third season of Twin Peaks, which aired on Showtime. Lynch co-wrote and directed every episode, and reprised his onscreen role as Gordon Cole.

Lynch’s other artistic endeavors include his work as a musician, encompassing the studio albums BlueBOB (2001), Crazy Clown Time (2011), and The Big Dream (2013), as well as music and sound design for a variety of his films (sometimes alongside collaborators Alan Splet, Dean Hurley, and/or Angelo Badalament; painting and photography; writing the books Images (1994), Catching the Big Fish (2006), Room to Dream (2018), and numerous other literary works; and directing several music videos (such as the video for “Shot in the Back of the Head” by Moby, who, in turn, directed a video for Lynch’s “The Big Dream”) as well as advertisements, including the Dior promotional film Lady Blue Shanghai (2006). An avid practitioner of Transcendental Meditation (TM), in 2005 he founded the David Lynch Foundation, which seeks to fund the teaching of TM in schools and has since widened its scope to other at-risk populations, including the homeless, veterans and refugees.

David Keith Lynch was born in Missoula, Montana on January 20, 1946. His father, was a research scientist working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and his mother, Edwina “Sunny” Lynch was an English language tutor. Two of Lynch’s maternal great-grandparents were Finnish-Swedish immigrants who arrived in the U.S. during the 19th century. He was raised a Presbyterian. The Lynches often moved around according to where the USDA assigned Donald. Because of this, Lynch, moved with his parents to Sandpoint, Idaho, when he was two months old; two years later, after his brother John was born, the family moved to Spokane, Washington. Lynch’s sister Martha was born there. The family then moved to Durham, North Carolina, Boise, Idaho, and Alexandria, Virginia. Lynch adjusted to this transitory early life with relative ease, noting that he usually had no issue making new friends whenever he started attending a new school. Of his early life, he remarked: “I found the world completely and totally fantastic as a child. Of course, I had the usual fears, like going to school … for me, back then, school was a crime against young people. It destroyed the seeds of liberty. The teachers didn’t encourage knowledge or a positive attitude”.

Alongside his schooling, Lynch joined the Boy Scouts, although he later said he only “became a scout so I could quit and put it behind me”. He rose to the highest rank of Eagle Scout. As an Eagle Scout, he was present with other Boy Scouts outside the White House at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, which took place on Lynch’s 15th birthday. Lynch was also interested in painting and drawing from an early age, and became intrigued by the idea of pursuing it as a career path when living in Virginia, where his friend’s father was a professional painter.
At Francis C. Hammond High School in Alexandria, Lynch did not excel academically, having little interest in schoolwork, but he was popular with other students, and after leaving he decided that he wanted to study painting at college. He began his studies at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design in Washington, D.C., before transferring in 1964 to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where he was roommates with musician Peter Wolf. He left after only a year, saying, “I was not inspired AT ALL in that place.” He instead decided that he wanted to travel around Europe for three years with his friend Jack Fisk, who was similarly unhappy with his studies at Cooper Union. They had some hopes that they could train in Europe with Austrian expressionist painter Oskar Kokoschka at his school. Upon reaching Salzburg, however, they found that Kokoschka was not available; disillusioned, they returned to the United States after spending only two weeks in Europe.

Back in the United States, Lynch returned to Virginia, but since his parents had moved to Walnut Creek, California, he stayed with his friend Toby Keeler for a while. He decided to move to Philadelphia and enroll at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, after advice from Fisk, who was already enrolled there. He preferred this college to his previous school in Boston, saying, “In Philadelphia there were great and serious painters, and everybody was inspiring one another and it was a beautiful time there.” It was here that he began a relationship with a fellow student, Peggy Reavey, whom he married in 1967. The following year, Peggy gave birth to their daughter Jennifer. Peggy later said, ” Lynch definitely was a reluctant father, but a very loving one. Hey, I was pregnant when we got married. We were both reluctant.” As a family, they moved to Philadelphia’s Fairmount neighborhood, where they bought a 12-room house for the relatively low price of $3,500 due to the area’s high crime and poverty rates. Lynch later said: We lived cheap, but the city was full of fear. A kid was shot to death down the street … We were robbed twice, had windows shot out and a car stolen. The house was first broken into only three days after we moved in … The feeling was so close to extreme danger, and the fear was so intense. There was violence and hate and filth. But the biggest influence in my whole life was that city.

Meanwhile, to help support his family, he took a job printing engravings. At the Pennsylvania Academy, Lynch made his first short film, Six Men Getting Sick (Six Times) (1967). He had first come up with the idea when he developed a wish to see his paintings move, and he began discussing doing animation with an artist named Bruce Samuelson. When this project never came about, Lynch decided to work on a film alone, and purchased the cheapest 16mm camera that he could find. Taking one of the Academy’s abandoned upper rooms as a workspace, he spent $150, which at the time he felt to be a lot of money, to produce Six Men Getting Sick. Calling the film “57 seconds of growth and fire, and three seconds of vomit”, Lynch played it on a loop at the Academy’s annual end-of-year exhibit, where it shared joint first prize with a painting by Noel Mahaffey. This led to a commission from one of his fellow students, the wealthy H. Barton Wasserman, who offered him $1,000 to create a film installation in his home. Spending $478 of that on the second-hand Bolex camera “of [his] dreams”, Lynch produced a new animated short, but upon getting the film developed, realized that the result was a blurred, frameless print. He later said, “So I called up [Wasserman] and said, ‘Bart, the film is a disaster. The camera was broken and what I’ve done hasn’t turned out.’ And he said, ‘Don’t worry, David, take the rest of the money and make something else for me. Just give me a print.’ End of story.”

With his leftover money, Lynch decided to experiment with a mix of animation and live action, producing the four-minute short The Alphabet (1968). The film starred Lynch’s wife Peggy as a character known as The Girl, who chants the alphabet to a series of images of horses before dying at the end by hemorrhaging blood all over her bed sheets. Adding a sound effect, Lynch used a broken Uher tape recorder to record the sound of Jennifer crying, creating a distorted sound that Lynch found particularly effective. Later describing what had inspired him, Lynch said, “Peggy’s niece was having a bad dream one night and was saying the alphabet in her sleep in a tormented way. So that’s sort of what started The Alphabet going. The rest of it was just subconscious
Learning about the newly founded American Film Institute, which gave grants to filmmakers who could support their application with a prior work and a script for a new project, Lynch decided to send them a copy of The Alphabet along with a script he had written for a new short film that would be almost entirely live action, The Grandmother. The institute agreed to help finance the work, initially offering him $5,000 out of his requested budget of $7,200, but later granting him the additional $2,200. Starring people he knew from both work and college and filmed in his own house, The Grandmother featured a neglected boy who “grows” a grandmother from a seed to care for him. The film critics Michelle Le Blanc and Colin Odell wrote, “this film is a true oddity but contains many of the themes and ideas that would filter into his later work, and shows a remarkable grasp of the medium”.

In 1971, Lynch moved with his wife and daughter to Los Angeles, where he began studying filmmaking at the AFI Conservatory, a place he later called “completely chaotic and disorganized, which was great … you quickly learned that if you were going to get something done, you would have to do it yourself. They wanted to let people do their thing.” He began writing a script for a proposed work, Gardenback, that had “unfolded from this painting I’d done”. In this venture he was supported by a number of figures at the Conservatory, who encouraged him to lengthen the script and add more dialogue, which he reluctantly agreed to do. All the interference on his Gardenback project made him fed up with the Conservatory and led him to quit after returning to start his second year and being put in first-year classes. AFI dean Frank Daniel asked Lynch to reconsider, believing that he was one of the school’s best students. Lynch agreed on the condition that he could create a project that would not be interfered with. Feeling that Gardenback was “wrecked”, he set out on a new film, Eraserhead.

Eraserhead was planned to be about 42 minutes long (it ended up being 89 minutes), its script was only 21 pages, and Lynch was able to create the film without interference. Filming began on May 29, 1972, at night in some abandoned stables, allowing the production team, which was largely Lynch and some of his friends, including Sissy Spacek, Jack Fisk, cinematographer Frederick Elmes and sound designer Alan Splet, to set up a camera room, green room, editing room, sets as well as a food room and a bathroom. The AFI gave Lynch a $10,000 grant, but it was not enough to complete the film, and under pressure from studios after the success of the relatively cheap feature film Easy Rider, it was unable to give him more. Lynch was then supported by a loan from his father and money that he earned from a paper route that he took up, delivering The Wall Street Journal. Not long into Eraserhead’s production, Lynch and Peggy amicably separated and divorced, and he began living full-time on set. In 1977, Lynch married Mary Fisk, sister of Jack Fisk.
Lynch has said that not a single reviewer of the film understood it in the way he intended. Filmed in black and white, Eraserhead tells the story of Henry (Jack Nance), a quiet young man living in a dystopian industrial wasteland, whose girlfriend gives birth to a deformed baby whom she leaves in his care. It was heavily influenced by the fearful mood of Philadelphia, and Lynch has called it “my Philadelphia Story”.
Due to financial problems the filming of Eraserhead was haphazard, regularly stopping and starting again.
Eraserhead was finally finished in 1976. Lynch tried to get it entered into the Cannes Film Festival, but while some reviewers liked it, others felt it was awful, and it was not selected for screening. Reviewers from the New York Film Festival also rejected it, but it was screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival, where Ben Barenholtz, the distributor of the Elgin Theater, heard about it. He was very supportive of the movie, helping to distribute it around the United States in 1977, and Eraserhead subsequently became popular on the midnight movie underground circuit, and was later called one of the most important midnight movies of the 1970s, along with El Topo, Pink Flamingos, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Harder They Come and Night of the Living Dead. Stanley Kubrick said it was one of his all-time favorite films.

After Eraserhead’s success on the underground circuit, Stuart Cornfeld, an executive producer for Mel Brooks, saw it and later said, “I was just 100 percent blown away … I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever seen. It was such a cleansing experience.” He agreed to help Lynch with his next film, Ronnie Rocket, for which Lynch had already written a script. But Lynch soon realized that Ronnie Rocket, a film that he has said is about “electricity and a three-foot guy with red hair”, was not going to be picked up by any financiers, and so he asked Cornfeld to find him a script by someone else that he could direct. Cornfeld found four. On hearing the title of the first, The Elephant Man, Lynch chose it.

The Elephant Man’s script, written by Chris de Vore and Eric Bergren, was based on a true story, that of Joseph Merrick, a severely deformed man in Victorian London, who was held in a sideshow but later taken under the care of a London surgeon, Frederick Treves. Lynch wanted to make some alterations that would alter the story from true events but in his view make a better plot, but he needed Mel Brooks’s permission, as Brooks’s company, Brooksfilms, was responsible for production. Brooks viewed Eraserhead, and after coming out of the screening theatre, embraced Lynch, declaring, “You’re a madman! I love you! You’re in.”
The Elephant Man starred John Hurt as John Merrick (the name changed from Joseph) and Anthony Hopkins as Treves. Filming took place in London. Though surrealistic and in black and white, it has been called “one of the most conventional” of Lynch’s films. The Elephant Man was a huge critical and commercial success, earning eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay

After The Elephant Man’s success, George Lucas, a fan of Eraserhead, offered Lynch the opportunity to direct the third film in his Star Wars trilogy, Return of the Jedi. Lynch refused, arguing that Lucas should direct the film himself as the movie should reflect his own vision, not Lynch’s. Soon, the opportunity to direct another big-budget science fiction epic arose when Dino de Laurentiis of the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group asked Lynch to create a film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel Dune (1965). Lynch agreed, and in doing so was also contractually obliged to produce two other works for the company. He set about writing a script based upon the novel, initially with both Chris de Vore and Eric Bergren, and then alone when De Laurentiis was unhappy with their ideas. Lynch also helped build some of the sets, attempting to create “a certain look”, and particularly enjoyed building the set for the oil planet Giedi Prime, for which he used “steel, bolts, and porcelain”.

Dune is set in the far future, when humans live in an interstellar empire under a feudal system. The main character, Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan), is the son of a noble who takes control of the desert planet Arrakis, which grows the rare spice melange, the empire’s most highly prized commodity. Lynch was unhappy with the work, later saying, “Dune was a kind of studio film. I didn’t have final cut. And, little by little, I was subconsciously making compromises” (to his own vision). Much of his footage was eventually removed from the final theatrical cut, dramatically condensing the plot. Although De Laurentiis hoped it would be as successful as Star Wars, Dune (1984) was a critical and commercial dud; it had cost $45 million to make, and grossed $27.4 million domestically.

Lynch was contractually still obliged to produce two other projects for De Laurentiis, the first a planned sequel to Dune, which due to the film’s failure never went beyond the script stage. The other was a more personal work, based on a script Lynch had been working on for some time. Developing from ideas that Lynch had had since 1973, the film, Blue Velvet, was set in the real town of Lumberton, North Carolina, and revolves around a college student, Jeffrey Beaumont (MacLachlan), who finds a severed ear in a field. Investigating further with the help of friend Sandy (Laura Dern), he discovers that it is related to a criminal gang led by psychopath Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper), who has kidnapped the husband and child of singer Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) and repeatedly rapes her. Lynch has called the story “a dream of strange desires wrapped inside a mystery story”.

Lynch included pop songs from the 1960s in the film, including Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” and Bobby Vinton’s “Blue Velvet”, the latter of which largely inspired the film. Lynch has said, “It was the song that sparked the movie … There was something mysterious about it. It made me think about things. And the first things I thought about were lawns—lawns and the neighborhood.” Other music for the film was composed by Angelo Badalamenti, who wrote the music for most of Lynch’s subsequent work. De Laurentiis loved the film, and it received support at some of the early specialist screenings, but the preview screenings to mainstream audiences were very negatively received, with most of the viewers hating the film. Lynch had found success with The Elephant Man, but Blue Velvet’s controversy with audiences and critics introduced him into the mainstream, and it became a huge critical and moderate commercial success. The film earned Lynch his second Academy Award nomination for Best Director. Woody Allen, whose Hannah and Her Sisters was nominated for Best Picture, said Blue Velvet was his favorite film of the year.

Around this time, he met the television producer Mark Frost, who had worked on such projects as Hill Street Blues, and while talking in a coffee shop, Lynch and Frost had the idea of a corpse washing up on a lakeshore, and went to work on their third project, initially called Northwest Passage but eventually Twin Peaks (1990–91).
A drama series set in a small Washington town where popular high school student Laura Palmer has been murdered, Twin Peaks featured FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (MacLachlan) as the investigator trying to identify the killer, and discovering not only the murder’s supernatural aspects but also many of the townsfolk’s secrets; Lynch said, “The project was to mix a police investigation with the ordinary lives of the characters.” He later said, “Mark Frost and I worked together, especially in the initial stages. Later on we started working more apart.” They pitched the series to ABC, which agreed to finance the pilot and eventually commissioned a season comprising seven episodes.
During season one Lynch directed two of the seven episodes, devoting more time to his film Wild at Heart, but carefully chose the other episodes’ directors. He also appeared in several episodes as FBI agent Gordon Cole. The series was a success, with high ratings in the United States and many other countries, and soon spawned a cult following. Soon a second season of 22 episodes went into production, but ABC executives believed that public interest in the show was decreasing. The network insisted that Lynch and Frost reveal Laura Palmer’s killer’s identity prematurely, which Lynch grudgingly agreed to do, in what Lynch has called one of his biggest professional regrets. After identifying the murderer and moving from Thursday to Saturday night, Twin Peaks continued for several more episodes, but was canceled after a ratings drop. Lynch, who disliked the direction that writers and directors took in the later episodes, directed the final episode. He ended it with a cliffhanger (like season one had), later saying, “that’s not the ending. That’s the ending that people were stuck with.”
Also while Twin Peaks was in production, the Brooklyn Academy of Music asked Lynch and Badalamenti, who wrote the music for Twin Peaks, to create a theatrical piece to be performed twice in 1989 as a part of the New Music America Festival. The result was Industrial Symphony No. 1: The Dream of the Broken Hearted, which starred frequent Lynch collaborators such as Laura Dern, Nicolas Cage and Michael J. Anderson, and contained five songs sung by Julee Cruise. Lynch produced a 50-minute video of the performance in 1990. Meanwhile, he was also involved in creating various commercials for companies including Yves Saint Laurent, Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani and the Japanese coffee company Namoi, which featured a Japanese man searching Twin Peaks for his missing wife.

While Lynch was working on the first few episodes of Twin Peaks, his friend Monty Montgomery “gave me a book that he wanted to direct as a movie. He asked if I would maybe be executive producer or something, and I said ‘That’s great, Monty, but what if I read it and fall in love with it and want to do it myself?’ And he said, ‘In that case, you can do it yourself’.” The book was Barry Gifford’s novel Wild at Heart: The Story of Sailor and Lula, about two lovers on a road trip. Lynch felt that it was “just exactly the right thing at the right time. The book and the violence in America merged in my mind and many different things happened.” With Gifford’s support, Lynch adapted the novel into Wild at Heart, a crime and road movie starring Nicolas Cage as Sailor and Laura Dern as Lula. Describing its plot as a “strange blend” of “a road picture, a love story, a psychological drama and a violent comedy”, Lynch altered much of the original novel, changing the ending and incorporating numerous references to The Wizard of Oz. Despite a muted response from American critics and viewers, Wild at Heart won the Palme d’Or at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival.

After Wild at Heart’s success, Lynch returned to the world of the canceled Twin Peaks, this time without Frost, to create a film that was primarily a prequel but also in part a sequel. Lynch said, “I liked the idea of the story going back and forth in time.” The result, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), primarily revolved around the last few days in the life of Laura Palmer, and was much “darker” in tone than the TV series, with much of the humor removed, and dealing with such topics as incest and murder. Lynch has said the film is about “the loneliness, shame, guilt, confusion and devastation of the victim of incest”. The company CIBY-2000 financed Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, and most of the TV series’ cast reprised their roles, though some refused and many were unenthusiastic about the project. The film was a commercial and critical failure in the United States but a hit in Japan, and some critics, such as Mark Kermode, have called it Lynch’s “masterpiece”.

After his unsuccessful TV ventures, Lynch returned to film. In 1997 he released the non-linear, noiresque Lost Highway, which was co-written by Barry Gifford and starred Bill Pullman and Patricia Arquette. The film failed commercially and received a mixed response from critics.

Lynch then began work on a film from a script by Mary Sweeney and John E. Roach, The Straight Story, based on a true story: that of Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth), an elderly man from Laurens, Iowa, who goes on a 300-mile journey to visit his sick brother (Harry Dean Stanton) in Mount Zion, Wisconsin, by riding lawnmower. Asked why he chose this script, Lynch said, “that’s what I fell in love with next”, and expressed his admiration of Straight, describing him as “like James Dean, except he’s old”.[98] Badalamenti wrote the music for the film, saying it was “very different from the kind of score he’s done for [Lynch] in the past”.
Among the many differences from Lynch’s other films, The Straight Story contains no profanity, sexuality or violence, and is rated “G” by the Motion Picture Association of America, which came as “shocking news” to many in the film industry, who were surprised that it “did not disturb, offend or mystify”. Le Blanc and Odell write that the plot made it “seem as far removed from Lynch’s earlier works as could be imagined, but in fact right from the very opening, this is entirely his film—a surreal road movie”.

The same year, Lynch approached ABC again with ideas for a television drama. The network gave Lynch the go-ahead to shoot a two-hour pilot for the series Mulholland Drive, but disputes over content and running time led to the project being shelved indefinitely. But with $7 million from the French production company StudioCanal, Lynch completed the pilot as a film, Mulholland Drive. The film, a non-linear narrative surrealist tale of Hollywood’s dark side, stars Naomi Watts, Laura Harring and Justin Theroux. It performed relatively well at the box office worldwide and was a critical success, earning Lynch Best Director at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival (shared with Joel Coen for The Man Who Wasn’t There) and Best Director from the New York Film Critics Association. He also received his third Academy Award nomination for Best Director. In 2016, the film was named the best film of the 21st century in a BBC poll of 177 film critics from 36 countries.

With the rising popularity of the Internet, Lynch decided to use it as a distribution channel, releasing several new series he had created exclusively on his website, davidlynch.com, which went online on December 10, 2001. In 2002, he created a series of online shorts, DumbLand. Intentionally crude in content and execution, the eight-episode series was later released on DVD. The same year, Lynch released a surreal sitcom, Rabbits, about a family of humanoid rabbits. Later, he made his experiments with Digital Video available in the form of the Japanese-style horror short Darkened Room. In 2006, Lynch’s feature film Inland Empire was released. At three hours, it is the longest of his films. Like Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway, it does not follow a traditional narrative structure. It stars Lynch regulars Laura Dern, Harry Dean Stanton and Justin Theroux, with cameos by Naomi Watts and Laura Harring as the voices of Suzie and Jane Rabbit, and a performance by Jeremy Irons. Lynch has called Inland Empire “a mystery about a woman in trouble”. In an effort to promote it, he made appearances with a cow and a placard bearing the slogan “Without cheese there would be no Inland Empire”.

On October 6, 2014, Lynch confirmed via Twitter that he and Frost would start shooting a new, nine-episode season of Twin Peaks in 2015, with the episodes expected to air in 2016 on Showtime. Lynch and Frost wrote all the episodes. Since the last episode of The Return aired, there has been speculation about a fourth season. Lynch did not deny the possibility of another season, but said that if it were to happen, it would not air before 2021.

Lynch is reportedly working on a new project for Netflix under the working titles Wisteria and Unrecorded Night. He is set to write and direct 13 episodes with an $85 million budget; production will begin in May 2021 in Los Angeles.

“I look at the world and I see absurdity all around me. People do strange things constantly, to the point that, for the most part, we manage not to see it. That’s why I love coffee shops and public places—I mean, they’re all out there”.
—David Lynch

Lynch has said his work is more similar in many respects to that of European filmmakers than American ones, and that most films that “get down and thrill your soul” are by European directors. He has expressed his admiration for such filmmakers as Federico Fellini, Werner Herzog, Alfred Hitchcock, Roman Polanski, and Jacques Tati, along with Stanley Kubrick and Billy Wilder. He has said that Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard is one of his favorite pictures, as are Kubrick’s Lolita, Tati’s Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday, Hitchcock’s Rear Window, and Herzog’s Stroszek. He has also cited Herk Harvey’s Carnival of Souls and Jerzy Skolimowski’s Deep End as influences on his work.

Several themes recur in Lynch’s work. Le Blanc and Odell write, “his films are so packed with motifs, recurrent characters, images, compositions and techniques that you could view his entire output as one large jigsaw puzzle of ideas”. One of the key themes they note is the usage of dreams and dreamlike imagery and structure, something they relate to the “surrealist ethos” of relying “on the subconscious to provide visual drive”. This can be seen in Merrick’s dream of his mother in The Elephant Man, Cooper’s dreams of the red room in Twin Peaks and the “dreamlike logic” of the narratives of Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire.Of his attitude to dreams, Lynch has said, “Waking dreams are the ones that are important, the ones that come when I’m quietly sitting in a chair, letting my mind wander. When you sleep, you don’t control your dream. I like to dive into a dream world that I’ve made or discovered; a world I choose … You can’t really get others to experience it, but right there is the power of cinema.” His films are known for their use of magic realism. The motif of dreams is closely linked to his recurring use of drones, real-world sounds and musical styles.

Another of Lynch’s prominent themes is industry, with repeated imagery of “the clunk of machinery, the power of pistons, shadows of oil drills pumping, screaming wood mills and smoke billowing factories”, as seen in the industrial wasteland in Eraserhead, the factories in The Elephant Man, the sawmill in Twin Peaks and the lawnmower in The Straight Story. Of his interest in such things, Lynch has said, “It makes me feel good to see giant machinery, you know, working: dealing with molten metal. And I like fire and smoke. And the sounds are so powerful. It’s just big stuff. It means that things are being made, and I really like that.”

Yet another theme is the dark underbelly of violent criminal activity in a society, such as Frank Booth’s gang in Blue Velvet and the cocaine smugglers in Twin Peaks. The idea of deformity is also found in several of Lynch’s films, from The Elephant Man to the deformed baby in Eraserhead, as well as death from head wounds, found in most of Lynch’s films. Other imagery common in Lynch’s works includes flickering electricity or lights, fire, and stages upon which a singer performs, often surrounded by drapery.

Except The Elephant Man and Dune, which are set in Victorian London and a fictitious galaxy respectively, all of Lynch’s films are set in the United States, and he has said, “I like certain things about America and it gives me ideas. When I go around and I see things, it sparks little stories, or little characters pop out, so it just feels right to me to, you know, make American films.” A number of his works, including Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks and Lost Highway, are intentionally reminiscent of 1950s American culture despite being set in later decades of the 20th century. Lynch has said, “It was a fantastic decade in a lot of ways … there was something in the air that is not there any more at all. It was such a great feeling, and not just because I was a kid. It was a really hopeful time, and things were going up instead of going down. You got the feeling you could do anything. The future was bright. Little did we know we were laying the groundwork for a disastrous future.”

Lynch also tends to feature his leading female actors in “split” roles, so that many of his female characters have multiple, fractured identities. This practice began with his casting Sheryl Lee as both Laura Palmer and her cousin Maddy Ferguson in Twin Peaks and continued in his later works. In Lost Highway, Patricia Arquette plays the dual role of Renee Madison/Alice Wakefield; in Mulholland Drive Naomi Watts plays Diane Selwyn/Betty Elms and Laura Harring plays Camilla Rhodes/Rita; in Inland Empire Laura Dern plays Nikki Grace/Susan Blue. The numerous alternative versions of lead characters and fragmented timelines may echo and/or reference the many worlds interpretation of quantum physics and perhaps Lynch’s broader interest in quantum mechanics. Some have suggested that Lynch’s love for Hitchcock’s Vertigo, which employs a split lead character (the Judy Barton and Madeleine Elster characters, both portrayed by Kim Novak) may have influenced this aspect of his work.
His films frequently feature characters with supernatural or omnipotent qualities. They can be seen as physical manifestations of various concepts, such as hatred or fear. Examples include The Man Inside the Planet in Eraserhead, BOB in Twin Peaks, The Mystery Man in Lost Highway, The Bum in Mulholland Drive, and The Phantom in Inland Empire. Lynch approaches his characters and plots in a way that steeps them in a dream state rather than reality.

Lynch is also widely noted for his collaborations with various production artists and composers on his films and other productions. He frequently works with Angelo Badalamenti to compose music for his productions, former wife Mary Sweeney as a film editor, casting director Johanna Ray, and cast members Harry Dean Stanton, Jack Nance, Kyle MacLachlan, Naomi Watts, Isabella Rossellini, Grace Zabriskie, and Laura Dern.

David Lynch has recently given a Masterclass on directing which is a very interesting watch. A person could learn a thing or two if one would be interested in pursuing a career in the field of dreamscapes.

Some perceive his work to be somewhat weird or odd. I like weird and odd as it unlimits my way of creative thinking. It’s because of people like him I’ve learned to think and write “outside the box”. David Lynch, a one-of-a-kind unique persona, a great director, you gotta love the man…

Check him out(or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: Louis Theroux

Today I’m featuring a man who has made a vast variety of interesting documentaries on unusual topics across the world and has made an impression on me by the way with the way he asks his questions: he seems to ask the right ones. One could almost call him the king of documentaries and interviewees always seem at ease and comfortable sharing things they wouldn’t share with others. This sincere bespectacled English eccentric is very nonjudgmental in his approach and he touches well on the sensitive sides of matters and seemingly bonds effortlessly with most people.

Louis Sebastian Theroux (May 1970) is a British-American documentary filmmaker, journalist, broadcaster, and author. He has received two British Academy Television Awards and a Royal Television Society Television Award.
Born in Singapore to an English mother and American father (the writer Paul Theroux), Theroux moved with his family to London when he was a child. After graduating from Oxford, he moved to the U.S. and worked as a journalist for Metro Silicon Valley and Spy. He moved into television as the presenter of offbeat segments on Michael Moore’s TV Nation series and later began to host his own documentaries, including Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends, When Louis Met…, and several BBC Two specials.

Louis Sebastian Theroux was born in Singapore on 20 May 1970, the son of American travel writer and novelist Paul Theroux and his English then-wife Anne (née Castle). His paternal grandmother, Anne (née Dittami), was an Italian-American grammar school teacher, and his paternal grandfather, Albert Eugène Theroux, was French-Canadian and a salesman for the American Leather Oak company.[8] He holds both British and American citizenship. His older brother, Marcel, is a writer and television presenter. His cousin, Justin, is an actor and screenwriter. Theroux is the nephew of novelist Alexander Theroux and writer Peter Theroux.
Theroux moved with his family to England at the age of one, and was brought up in London. He was educated at Tower House School and then at Westminster School, a public school within the precincts of Westminster Abbey. While there, he became friends with comedians Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish,and the Liberal Democrat politician Nick Clegg, with whom he travelled to America. He also performed in a number of school theatre productions including Bugsy Malone as Looney Bergonzi, Ritual for Dolls as the Army Officer, and The Splendour Falls as the Minstrel. Theroux later read Modern History at Magdalen College, Oxford (1988–1991), graduating with first-class honours.

Theroux’s first employment as a journalist was in the United States with Metro Silicon Valley, an alternative free weekly newspaper in San Jose, California. In 1992, he was hired as a writer for Spy magazine. He also worked as a correspondent on Michael Moore’s TV Nation series, for which he provided segments on off-beat cultural subjects, including selling Avon to women in the Amazon Rainforest, the Jerusalem syndrome, and attempts by the Ku Klux Klan to rebrand itself as a civil rights group for white people.
When TV Nation ended, Theroux was signed to a development deal by the BBC, through which he developed Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends. He has guest-written for a number of publications, including Hip Hop Connection, and he continues to write for The Idler.

In Weird Weekends (1998–2000), Theroux followed marginal (mostly American) subcultures such as survivalists, black nationalists, white supremacists, and porn stars, often by living among or close to the people involved. His documentary method often subtly exposed the contradictions or farcical elements of some seriously held beliefs. He described the aim of the series as:
Setting out to discover the genuinely odd in the most ordinary setting. To me, it’s almost a privilege to be welcomed into these communities and to shine a light on them and, maybe, through my enthusiasm, to get people to reveal more of themselves than they may have intended. The show is laughing at me, adrift in their world, as much as at them. I don’t have to play up that stuff. I’m not a matinee idol disguised as a nerd.

In the series When Louis Met… (2000–02), Theroux accompanied a different British celebrity in each programme in their daily lives, interviewing them as they go. His episode about British entertainer Jimmy Savile, When Louis Met Jimmy, was voted one of the top documentaries of all time in a 2005 survey by Britain’s Channel 4. Some years after the episode was filmed, the NSPCC described Savile as one of the most prolific sex offenders in Great Britain.
In an interview in 2015, Theroux expressed his intention to produce a follow-up documentary about Savile for the BBC to explore how the late entertainer had continued his abuse for so long, to meet people he knew closely, and examine his own reflections on his inability to dig more deeply into the first case. This follow-up documentary, with the title Savile, aired on BBC Two on Sunday, 2 October 2016, and lasted 1 hour, 15 minutes.
In When Louis Met the Hamiltons, the former Conservative MP Neil Hamilton and his wife Christine were arrested during the course of filming, due to false allegations of indecent assault.
In When Louis Met Max Clifford, Max Clifford tried to set up Theroux, but he was caught lying as the crew recorded his live microphone during the conversations.
After this series concluded, a retrospective called Life with Louis was released. Theroux made a documentary called Louis, Martin & Michael about his quest to get an interview with Michael Jackson. Selected episodes of When Louis Met… were included as bonus content on a Best-Of collection of Weird Weekends.

In these special programmes, beginning in 2003, Theroux returned to American themes, working at feature-length and in a more natural way. In March 2006, he signed a new deal with the BBC to make 10 films over the course of three years. Subjects for the specials include criminal gangs in Lagos, Neo-Nazis in America, ultra-Zionists in Israel. He also visits child psychiatry, and the prison systems in California and Florida. A 2007 special, The Most Hated Family in America, received strong critical praise from the international media.

In October 2016, Theroux premiered a feature length documentary entitled My Scientology Movie. Produced by Simon Chinn—a schoolfriend of Theroux’s—and directed by John Dower, the film covers Theroux attempting to gain access to the secretive Church of Scientology. The film premiered at the London Film Festival in 2015 and was released in cinemas in the UK on 7 October 2016.

Theroux published his first book, The Call of the Weird: Travels in American Subcultures, in Britain in 2005. In it he recounts his return to the United States to learn about the lives of some of the people he had featured in his television programmes.Theroux also released an autobiography titled Gotta Get Theroux This in September 2019.

In April 2020, during a lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Theroux started the BBC Radio 4 podcast Grounded with Louis Theroux, recorded at his home, where he interviews well known people that he finds particularly fascinating, who he would not necessarily have had a chance to speak to before the pandemic

Theroux makes a few appearances on The Adam and Joe Show DVD and has been a guest many times on Adam & Joe’s radio shows as well as on The Adam Buxton Podcast.
As part of the Weird Weekends episode “Porn”, Theroux agreed to film a cameo in the 1997 gay pornography film Take a Peak. He did not perform sexual acts in the film, but made a brief appearance as a park ranger in search of a criminal. In the Weird Weekends episode “Infomercials”, he was featured as a live salesman for an at-home paper shredder for the Home Shopping Network.
In December 2015 Theroux captained the team representing Magdalen College, Oxford, on BBC Four’s Christmas University Challenge. In their first-round match the team beat University of Exeter by 220 to 130 and Theroux’s team went on to win the tournament.

Theroux’s first marriage was to Susanna Kleeman from 1998 to 2001; he later told Sathnam Sanghera of the Financial Times, “What happened was that my girlfriend was living with me in New York. She was having trouble finding work … legally. So we got married, to make it easier for her. We never really considered ourselves married in the full sense – there were no wedding photos or anything like that. It was really a marriage of convenience.”
While filming a 2011 BBC programme, Theroux was asked “Why pose a difference between religion and ethics?” He responded, “Because I don’t believe in God.” In his 2011 documentary, The Ultra Zionists, he confirmed his atheism. In a 2012 masterclass, Theroux spoke of the challenges of combining family life with the need to go away to work on projects.
Theroux married longtime girlfriend Nancy Strang on 13 July 2012. They have three sons. He and his family lived in Harlesden, London until they temporarily moved to Los Angeles, California in early 2013, allowing him more time to focus on his LA Stories series. In August 2017, Theroux again relocated to Los Angeles.
In 2018 Theroux was targeted by cyber security firm Insinia to highlight a longstanding security flaw in Twitter’s system.
During a 2018 interview with The Guardian, he revealed that he was a nervous flyer.
Theroux has stated that while he acknowledges that it is an intoxicant and can be a trigger to mental health issues, he supports the legalisation of cannabis.

This incredibly good journalist knows there are boundaries and things he shouldn’t cross. He blends in well and is an easy confidant to all. There is a sense, watching Theroux talk to the people in his interviews, that he’s not putting words in their mouths but is instead drawing out something they already want to say. This geeky, nerdy-looking Brit is a national treasure.

Check him out(or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, Radio Times, interweb, poetpas
~photo by The Telegraph

Featuring: Laurel & Hardy

Nothing amuses and amazes me more than one of the best comic couples of all times, Laurel & Hardy. These great kind souls brought me so much joy and laughter and inspiration over the years, and still do. For me they are the ultimate and perfect yin and yang of comedy.

Laurel and Hardy were a comedy duo act during the early Classical Hollywood era of American cinema. The team was composed of Englishman Stan Laurel and American Oliver Hardy. They became well known during the late 1920s to the mid-1940s for their slapstick comedy, with Laurel playing the clumsy and childlike friend of the pompous bully Hardy.

Prior to emerging as a team, both actors had well-established film careers. Laurel had appeared in over 50 films as an actor (while also working as a writer and director), while Hardy had been in more than 250 productions. The two comedians had previously worked together as cast members on the film The Lucky Dog in 1921. However, they were not a comedy team at that time and it was not until 1926 that they appeared in a short movie together, when both separately signed contracts with the Hal Roach film studio. Laurel and Hardy officially became a team in 1927 when they appeared together in the silent short film Putting Pants on Philip. They remained with the Roach studio until 1940 and then appeared in eight comedies for 20th Century Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from 1941 to 1945. After finishing their movie commitments at the end of 1944, they concentrated on performing in stage shows and embarked on a music hall tour of England, Ireland, and Scotland. They made their last film in 1950, a French-Italian co-production called Atoll K. They appeared as a team in 107 films, starring in 32 short silent films, 40 short sound films, and 23 full-length feature films.

Stan Laurel

Stan Laurel (June 16, 1890 – February 23, 1965) was born Arthur Stanley Jefferson in Ulverston, Lancashire, England into a theatrical family. His father was a theatrical entrepreneur and theatre owner in northern England and Scotland who, with his wife, was a major force in the industry. In 1905, the Jefferson family moved to Glasgow to be closer to their business mainstay of the Metropole Theatre, and Laurel made his stage debut in a Glasgow hall called the Britannia Panopticon one month short of his 16th birthday. His father secured Laurel his first acting job with the juvenile theatrical company of Levy and Cardwell, which specialized in Christmas pantomimes. In 1909, Laurel was employed by Britain’s leading comedy impresario Fred Karno as a supporting actor, and as an understudy for Charlie Chaplin. Laurel said of Karno, “There was no one like him. He had no equal. His name was box-office.”
In 1912, Laurel left England with the Fred Karno Troupe to tour the United States. Laurel had expected the tour to be merely a pleasant interval before returning to London; however, he decided to remain in the U.S. In 1917, Laurel was teamed with Mae Dahlberg as a double act for stage and film; they were living as common law husband and wife. The same year, Laurel made his film debut with Dahlberg in Nuts in May. While working with Mae, he began using the name “Stan Laurel” and changed his name legally in 1931. Dahlberg demanded roles in his films, and her tempestuous nature made her difficult to work with. Dressing room arguments were common between the two; it was reported that producer Joe Rock paid her to leave Laurel and to return to her native Australia. In 1925, Laurel joined the Hal Roach film studio as a director and writer. From May 1925 until September 1926, he received credit in at least 22 films. Laurel appeared in over 50 films for various producers before teaming up with Hardy. Prior to that, he experienced only modest success. It was difficult for producers, writers, and directors to write for his character, with American audiences knowing him either as a “nutty burglar” or as a Charlie Chaplin imitator.

Oliver Hardy

Oliver Hardy (January 18, 1892 – August 7, 1957) was born Norvell Hardy in Harlem, Georgia. By his late teens, Hardy was a popular stage singer and he operated a movie house in Milledgeville, Georgia, the Palace Theater, financed in part by his mother. For his stage name he took his father’s first name, calling himself “Oliver Norvell Hardy”, while offscreen his nicknames were “Ollie” and “Babe”. The nickname “Babe” originated from an Italian barber near the Lubin Studios in Jacksonville, Florida, who would rub Hardy’s face with talcum powder and say “That’s nice-a baby!” Other actors in the Lubin company mimicked this, and Hardy was billed as “Babe Hardy” in his early films.
Seeing film comedies inspired him to take up comedy himself and, in 1913, he began working with Lubin Motion Pictures in Jacksonville. He started by helping around the studio with lights, props, and other duties, gradually learning the craft as a script-clerk for the company. It was around this time that Hardy married his first wife, Madelyn Salosihn. In 1914, Hardy was billed as “Babe Hardy” in his first film, Outwitting Dad. Between 1914 and 1916 Hardy made 177 shorts as Babe with the Vim Comedy Company, which were released up to the end of 1917. Exhibiting versatility in playing heroes, villains and even female characters, Hardy was in demand for roles as a supporting actor, comic villain or second banana. For 10 years he memorably assisted star comic and Charlie Chaplin imitator Billy West, Jimmy Aubrey, Larry Semon, and Charley Chase. In total, Hardy starred or co-starred in more than 250 silent shorts, of which roughly 150 have been lost. He was rejected for enlistment by the Army during World War I due to his size. In 1917, after the collapse of the Florida film industry, Hardy and his wife Madelyn moved to California to seek new opportunities.

Laurel and Hardy

Hal Roach has described how the two actors came together as a team. First, Hardy had already been working for Roach when Roach hired Laurel, whom he had seen in vaudeville. Laurel had very light blue eyes, and Roach discovered that, due to the technology of film at that time, Laurel’s eyes wouldn’t photograph properly — blue photographed as white. This problem is apparent in their first silent film together, The Lucky Dog, in which an attempt was made to compensate for the problem by making-up Laurel’s eyes very heavily. For about a year, Roach had Laurel work at the studio as a writer. Then panchromatic film was developed, they did a test for Laurel, and found that the problem was solved. Laurel and Hardy were then put together in a film, and the two seemed to complement each other. Usually comedy teams were composed of a straight man and a funny man, but these two were both comedians; however, they both knew how to play the straight man when the script needed it. Roach said, “You could always cut to a close-up of either one, and their reaction was good for another laugh.”

The humor of Laurel and Hardy was highly visual, with slapstick used for emphasis. They often had physical arguments with each other (in character), which were quite complex and involved cartoon violence, and their characters precluded them from making any real progress in the simplest endeavors. Much of their comedy involves milking a joke, where a simple idea provides a basis from which to build multiple gags without following a defined narrative.
Stan Laurel was of average height and weight, but appeared small and slight next to Oliver Hardy, who was 6 ft 1 in (185 cm) tall and weighed about 280 lb (127 kg) in his prime. Details of their hair and clothing were used to enhance this natural contrast. Laurel kept his hair short on the sides and back, growing it long on top to create a natural “fright wig”. At times of shock, he would simultaneously cry while pulling up his hair. In contrast, Hardy’s thinning hair was pasted on his forehead in spit curls and he sported a toothbrush moustache. To achieve a flat-footed walk, Laurel removed the heels from his shoes. Both wore bowler hats, with Laurel’s being narrower than Hardy’s, and with a flattened brim. The characters’ normal attire called for wing collar shirts, with Hardy wearing a neck tie which he would twiddle and Laurel a bow tie. Hardy’s sports jacket was a tad small and done up with one straining button, whereas Laurel’s double-breasted jacket was loose fitting.
A popular routine the team performed was a “tit-for-tat” fight with an adversary. This could be with their wives—often played by Mae Busch, Anita Garvin, or Daphne Pollard—or with a neighbor, often played by Charlie Hall or James Finlayson. Laurel and Hardy would accidentally damage someone’s property, and the injured party would retaliate by ruining something belonging to Laurel or Hardy. After calmly surveying the damage, they would find something else to vandalize, and the conflict would escalate until both sides were simultaneously destroying items in front of each other. An early example of the routine occurs in their classic short Big Business (1929), which was added to the National Film Registry in 1992. Another short film which revolves around such an altercation was titled Tit for Tat (1935).
One of their best-remembered dialogues was the “Tell me that again” routine. Laurel would tell Hardy a genuinely smart idea he came up with, and Hardy would reply, “Tell me that again.” Laurel would attempt to repeat the idea, but, having forgotten it, babble utter nonsense. Hardy, who had difficulty understanding Laurel’s idea when expressed clearly, would understand the jumbled version perfectly. While much of their comedy remained visual, various lines of humorous dialogue appeared in Laurel and Hardy’s talking films. Some examples include:
“You can lead a horse to water but a pencil must be led.”
“I was dreaming I was awake but I woke up and found meself asleep.”
“A lot of weather we’ve been having lately.”

In some cases, their comedy bordered on the surreal, in a style that Stan Laurel called “white magic”. For example, in the 1937 film Way Out West, Laurel clenches his fist and pours tobacco into it as if it were a pipe. He then flicks his thumb upward as if working a lighter. His thumb ignites and he matter-of-factly lights his “pipe”. Amazed at seeing this, Hardy unsuccessfully attempts to duplicate it throughout the film. Much later he finally succeeds, only to be terrified when his thumb catches fire. Laurel repeats the pipe joke in the 1938 film Block-Heads, again to Hardy’s bemusement. This time, the joke ends when a match Laurel was using relights itself, Hardy throws it into the fireplace, and it explodes with a loud bang.
Rather than showing Hardy suffering the pain of misfortunes, such as falling down stairs or being beaten by a thug, banging and crashing sound effects were often used so the audience could visualize the scene themselves. The 1927 film Sailors Beware was a significant film for Hardy because two of his enduring trademarks were developed. The first was his “tie twiddle” to demonstrate embarrassment. Hardy, while acting, had received a pail of water in the face. He said, “I had been expecting it, but I didn’t expect it at that particular moment. It threw me mentally and I couldn’t think what to do next, so I waved the tie in a kind of tiddly-widdly fashion to show embarrassment while trying to look friendly.” His second trademark was the “camera look”, in which he breaks the fourth wall. Hardy said: “I had to become exasperated so I just stared right into the camera and registered my disgust.” Offscreen, Laurel and Hardy were quite the opposite of their movie characters: Laurel was the industrious “idea man”, while Hardy was more easygoing.

The catchphrase most used by Laurel and Hardy on film is: “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!” In popular culture the catchphrase is often misquoted as “Well, here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.” The misquoted version of the phrase was never used by Hardy and the misunderstanding stems from the title of their film Another Fine Mess. Numerous variations of the quote appeared on film. For example, in Chickens Come Home Ollie says impatiently to Stan “Well. … ” with Stan replying, “Here’s another nice mess I’ve gotten you into.” The films Thicker than Water and The Fixer-Uppers use the phrase “Well, here’s another nice kettle of fish you pickled me in!” In Saps at Sea the phrase becomes “Well, here’s another nice bucket of suds you’ve gotten me into!” The catchphrase is used in its original form in the duo’s 1951 film Atoll K, where it fittingly serves as the final line of dialogue in what is the final Laurel and Hardy film. Most times, after Hardy said that phrase, Laurel would start to cry, exclaiming “Well, I couldn’t help it…” and begin to whimper while speaking gibberish. Another regular catchphrase, cried out by Ollie in moments of distress or frustration, as Stan stands helplessly by, is “Why don’t you do something to help me?”

The first feature film starring Laurel and Hardy was Pardon Us from 1931. The following year The Music Box, whose plot revolved around the pair pushing a piano up a long flight of steps,won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Subject. While many enthusiasts claim the superiority of The Music Box, their 1929 silent film Big Business is by far the most consistently acclaimed. The plot of this film sees Laurel and Hardy as Christmas tree salesmen involved in a classic tit-for-tat battle with a character played by James Finlayson that eventually destroys his house and their car. Big Business was added to the National Film Registry in the United States as a national treasure in 1992. The film Sons of the Desert from 1933 is often claimed to be Laurel and Hardy’s best feature-length film. The 1934 film Babes in Toyland remains a perennial on American television during the Christmas season. When interviewed Hal Roach spoke scathingly about the film and Laurel’s behavior during the production. Laurel was unhappy with the plot, and after an argument was allowed to make the film his way. The rift damaged Roach-Laurel relations to the point that Roach said that after Toyland, he no longer wished to produce Laurel and Hardy films. Nevertheless, their association continued for another six years. Hoping for greater artistic freedom, Laurel and Hardy split with Roach. Laurel and Hardy signed with 20th Century-Fox in 1941 and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1942. However, the working conditions were now completely different as they were simply hired actors, relegated to both studios’ B-film units, and were initially not allowed to contribute to the scripts or improvise, as they had always done. In 1950–51, Laurel and Hardy made their final feature-length film together, Atoll K.

Following the making of Atoll K, Laurel and Hardy took some months off to deal with health issues. Upon their return to the European stage in 1952, they undertook a well-received series of public appearances, performing a short sketch Laurel had written called “A Spot of Trouble”. Hoping to repeat the success the following year Laurel wrote a routine entitled “Birds of a Feather”. On September 9, 1953, their boat arrived in Cobh in the Republic of Ireland. Laurel recounted their reception:
The love and affection we found that day at Cobh was simply unbelievable. There were hundreds of boats blowing whistles and mobs and mobs of people screaming on the docks. We just couldn’t understand what it was all about. And then something happened that I can never forget. All the church bells in Cobh started to ring out our theme song “Dance of the Cuckoos” and Babe (Oliver Hardy) looked at me and we cried. I’ll never forget that day. Never.

In 1956, while following his doctor’s orders to improve his health due to a heart condition, Hardy lost over 100 pounds (45 kg; 7.1 st), nonetheless suffering several strokes resulting in reduced mobility and speech. Despite his long and successful career, Hardy’s home was sold to help cover the cost of his medical expenses. He died of a stroke on August 7, 1957, and longtime friend Bob Chatterton said Hardy weighed just 138 pounds (63 kg; 9.9 st) at the time of his death.

For the remaining eight years of his life, Stan Laurel refused to perform and even turned down Stanley Kramer’s offer of a cameo in his landmark 1963 movie It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. In 1960, Laurel was given a special Academy Award for his contributions to film comedy but was unable to attend the ceremony, due to poor health, and actor Danny Kaye accepted the award for him. Despite not appearing on screen after Hardy’s death, Laurel did contribute gags to several comedy filmmakers. During this period most of his communication was in the form of written correspondence and he insisted on personally answering every fan letter.
Laurel lived until 1965 and survived to see the duo’s work rediscovered through television and classic film revivals. He died on February 23 in Santa Monica and is buried at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, California.

As for music the duo’s famous signature tune, known variously as “The Cuckoo Song”, “Ku-Ku” or “The Dance of the Cuckoos”, was composed by Roach musical director Marvin Hatley as the on-the-hour chime for the Roach studio radio station. Laurel heard the tune on the station and asked Hatley if they could use it as the Laurel and Hardy theme song. The original theme, recorded by two clarinets in 1930, was recorded again with a full orchestra in 1935. Leroy Shield composed the majority of the music used in the Laurel and Hardy short sound films. A compilation of songs from their films, titled Trail of the Lonesome Pine, was released in 1975. The title track was released as a single in the UK and reached #2 in the charts.

Laurel and Hardy’s influence over a very broad range of comedy and other genres has been considerable. Lou Costello of the famed duo of Abbott and Costello, stated “They were the funniest comedy duo of all time”, adding “Most critics and film scholars throughout the years have agreed with this assessment.” Writers, artists and performers as diverse as Samuel Beckett, Jerry Lewis, Peter Sellers, Steve Martin, John Cleese,and Kurt Vonnegut amongst many others, have acknowledged an artistic debt. Starting in the 1960s, the exposure on television of (especially) their short films has ensured a continued influence on generations of comedians.

Since the 1930s, the works of Laurel and Hardy have been released again in numerous theatrical reissues, television revivals (broadcast, especially public television and cable), 16 mm and 8 mm home movies, feature-film compilations and home video. Numerous colorized versions of copyright-free Laurel and Hardy features and shorts have been reproduced by a multitude of production studios. Although the results of adding color were often in dispute, many popular titles are currently only available in the colorized version. The color process often affects the sharpness of the image, with some scenes being altered or deleted, depending on the source material used. Their film Helpmates was the first film to undergo the process and was released by Colorization Inc., a subsidiary of Hal Roach Studios, in 1983. Colorization was a success for the studio and Helpmates was released on home video with the colorized version of The Music Box in 1986.

There are three Laurel and Hardy museums. One is in Laurel’s birthplace, Ulverston, United Kingdom, where I have been and another one is in Hardy’s birthplace, Harlem, Georgia.The third one is located in Solingen, Germany.

In 2018 a film was made about their lives called Stan & Ollie, a biographical comedy-drama based on the later years of their lives. The film stars Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly as Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.
The film focuses on details of the comedy duo’s personal relationship while relating how they embarked on a grueling music hall tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland during 1953 and struggled to get another film made.

I often watch Laurel & Hardy on dvd as they’re not much on tv anymore. Sadly, broadcasters seem to think now everything has to be fast and flashy…
I am glad I grew up with their revival in the seventies and eighties and gladly look back to the times after school watching them tv, laughing my head off.

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Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: Stephen Fry

I first saw Stephen Fry in a series called Blackadder in which he played a role as an officer alongside the main character Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) Much later I found out he wasn’t only an actor/comedian but also an accomplished writer and an academic. He is an extremely intelligent man and wisely opinionated. I am never bored when I hear or watch this man talking about life and philosophy. So here is some more about this fascinating and smart individual.

Stephen John Fry (born 1957) is an English actor, comedian and writer. He and Hugh Laurie are the comic double act Fry and Laurie, who starred in A Bit of Fry & Laurie and Jeeves and Wooster. Fry’s film acting roles include playing his idol Oscar Wilde in the film Wilde (1997), Gosford Park (2001), and Mr. Johnson in Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship (2016). He also made appearances in Chariots of Fire (1981), A Fish Called Wanda (1988), and The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004) as well as V for Vendetta (2005), Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011), and The Hobbit film series.

Fry is also known for his roles in television such as Lord Melchett in the BBC television comedy series Blackadder, the title character in the television series Kingdom, and Absolute Power, as well as a recurring guest role as Dr Gordon Wyatt on the American crime series Bones. He has also written and presented several documentary series, including the Emmy Award-winning Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, which saw him explore his bipolar disorder, and the travel series Stephen Fry in America. He was also the long-time host of the BBC television quiz show QI, with his tenure lasting from 2003 to 2016 for which he was nominated for six British Academy Television Awards. He also appears frequently on panel games such as Just a Minute, and I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.

Besides working in television, Fry has been a prolific writer, contributing to newspapers and magazines and having written four novels and three volumes of autobiography, Moab Is My Washpot, The Fry Chronicles, and More Fool Me. Fry is also known for his voice-overs, reading all seven of the Harry Potter novels for the UK audiobook recordings,[5] narrating the LittleBigPlanet and Birds of Steel series of video games, as well as an animated series of explanations of the laws of cricket, and a series of animations about Humanism for Humanists UK.

Fry has bipolar disorder. His first diagnosis was cyclothymia, which he refers to as “bipolar lite”. Fry has spoken publicly about his experience with bipolar disorder, which was depicted in the documentary Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive. In the programme, he interviewed other sufferers of the illness including Robbie Williams, Carrie Fisher, Richard Dreyfuss and Tony Slattery. He is involved with the mental health charity Stand to Reason and is president of Mind. In 2013, he revealed that, in the previous year, he had started taking medication for the first time, in an attempt to control his condition. In 2018, alongside Nadiya Hussain and Olly Alexander, Fry was part of Sport Relief’s attempt to raise awareness of mental health.

Stephen Fry married comedian Elliott Spencer in January 2015 in Dereham, Norfolk. Fry is friends with Prince Charles, through his work with the Prince’s Trust. He attended the Prince’s wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005. Fry is a friend of comedian and actor (and Blackadder co-star) Rowan Atkinson and was best man at Atkinson’s wedding. His best friend is Hugh Laurie, whom he met while both were at Cambridge and with whom he has collaborated many times over the years. He was best man at Laurie’s wedding and is godfather to all three of his children. Fry became a vegetarian in 2017,having earlier expressed a desire to become so.

Fry has repeatedly expressed opposition to organised religion, and has identified himself as an atheist and humanist, while declaring some sympathy for the ancient Greek belief in capricious gods. In his first autobiography he described how he once considered ordination to the Anglican priesthood, but came to the conclusion that he “couldn’t believe in God, because [he] was fundamentally Hellenic in [his] outlook.”He has stated that religion can have positive effects: “Sometimes belief means credulity, sometimes an expression of faith and hope which even the most sceptical atheist such as myself cannot but find inspiring.”

There is so much more to say about this interesting and funny man and his achievements but I do not want to bore you with endless details. There’s more on Wikipedia. Here’s a few videos for you to check him out (or not):

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, interweb, poetpas

Featuring: Groucho Marx

Groucho Marx is one of my comical inspirators who makes me laugh out loud with his sharp and witty one liners. I used to watch the Marx Brothers films which he and his 4 brothers made. It was like life can be: chaotic, lyrical and humorous. I would like to think that his sense of humor is catchy and perhaps some may have noticed that I caught it.

Groucho Marx was considered the most recognizable of the Marx Brothers. Groucho-like characters and references have appeared in popular culture both during and after his life, some aimed at audiences who may never have seen a Marx Brothers movie. Marx’s trademark eyeglasses, nose, mustache, and cigar have become icons of comedy—glasses with fake noses and mustaches are sold by novelty and costume shops around the world.

Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx (October 2, 1890 – August 19, 1977) was an American comedian, actor, writer, stage, film, radio, and television star. He is generally considered to be a master of quick wit and one of America’s greatest comedians.
He made 13 feature films as a team with his siblings the Marx Brothers, of whom he was the third-born. He also had a successful solo career, primarily on radio and television, most notably as the host of the game show You Bet Your Life.
His distinctive appearance, carried over from his days in vaudeville, included quirks such as an exaggerated stooped posture, spectacles, cigar, a thick greasepaint mustache, and eyebrows. These exaggerated features resulted in the creation of one of the most recognizable and ubiquitous novelty disguises, known as Groucho glasses: a one-piece mask consisting of horn-rimmed glasses, a large plastic nose, bushy eyebrows and mustache.

Julius Henry Marx was born on October 2, 1890, in Manhattan, New York. It was populated with European immigrants, mostly artisans. Marx started his career in vaudeville in 1905 when he joined up with an act called The Leroy Trio. In 1909, Marx and his brothers had become a group act. The brothers’ mother, Minnie Marx, was the group’s manager, putting them together and booking their shows. The group had a rocky start, performing in less than adequate venues and rarely, if ever, being paid for their performances. Eventually one of the brothers would leave to serve in World War I and was replaced by Herbert (Zeppo), and the group became known as the Marx Brothers.

Groucho made 26 movies, 13 of them with his brothers Chico and Harpo. Marx developed a routine as a wisecracking hustler with a distinctive chicken-walking lope, an exaggerated greasepaint mustache and eyebrows, and an ever-present cigar, improvising insults to stuffy dowagers and anyone else who stood in his way. As the Marx Brothers, he and his brothers starred in a series of popular stage shows and movies.Their first movie was a silent film made in 1921 that was never released, and is believed to have been destroyed at the time. A decade later, the team made two of their Broadway hits—The Cocoanuts and Animal Cracker—into movies. Other successful films were Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, Duck Soup, and A Night at the Opera.

Marx also worked as a radio comedian and show host. One of his earliest stints was a short-lived series in 1932, Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel, costarring Chico. Though most of the scripts and discs were thought to have been destroyed, all but one of the scripts were found in 1988 in the Library of Congress. In 1947, Marx was asked to host a radio quiz program You Bet Your Life. It was broadcast by ABC and then CBS before moving to NBC. It moved from radio to television on October 5, 1950, and ran for eleven years. Filmed before an audience, the show consisted of Marx bantering with the contestants and ad-libbing jokes before briefly quizzing them. The show was responsible for popularizing the phrases “Say the secret word and the duck will come down and give you fifty dollars,” “Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb?” and “What color is the White House?” (asked to reward a losing contestant a consolation prize).

Marx’s three marriages ended in divorce. His first wife was chorus girl Ruth Johnson. The couple had two children, Arthur Marx and Miriam Marx. His second wife was Kay Marvis. Marx was 54 and Kay was 21 at the time of their marriage. They had a daughter, Melinda Marx. His third wife was actress Eden Hartford. He was 64 and she was 24 at the time of their wedding. During the early 1950s, Marx described his perfect woman: “Someone who looks like Marilyn Monroe and talks like George S. Kaufman.”

Despite his lack of formal education, he wrote many books, including his autobiography, Groucho and Me (1959) and Memoirs of a Mangy Lover (1963). He was a friend of such literary figures as Booth Tarkington, T. S. Eliot and Carl Sandburg. Much of his personal correspondence with those and other figures is featured in the book The Groucho Letters (1967) with an introduction and commentary on the letters written by Marx, who donated his letters to the Library of Congress. His daughter Miriam published a collection of his letters to her in 1992 titled Love, Groucho.

As he passed his 81st birthday in 1971, Marx became increasingly frail, physically and mentally, as a result of a succession of minor strokes and other health issues. On the 1974 Academy Awards telecast, Marx’s final major public appearance, Jack Lemmon presented him with an honorary Academy Award to a standing ovation. The award honored Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo as well: “in recognition of his brilliant creativity and for the unequalled achievements of the Marx Brothers in the art of motion picture comedy. Noticeably frail, Marx took a bow for his deceased brothers. “I wish that Harpo and Chico could be here to share with me this great honor,” he said, naming the two deceased brothers. Marx’s final appearance was a brief sketch with George Burns in the Bob Hope television special Joys. His health continued to decline the following year; when his younger brother Gummo died at age 83 on April 21, 1977, Marx was never told for fear of eliciting still further deterioration of his health.

Marx maintained his irrepressible sense of humor to the very end, however. George Fenneman, his radio and TV announcer, good-natured foil, and lifelong friend, often related a story of one of his final visits to Marx’s home: When the time came to end the visit, Fenneman lifted Marx from his wheelchair, put his arms around his torso, and began to “walk” the frail comedian backwards across the room towards his bed. As he did, he heard a weak voice in his ear: “Fenneman,” whispered Marx, “you always were a lousy dancer.” When a nurse approached him with a thermometer during his final hospitalization, explaining that she wanted to see if he had a temperature, he responded, “Don’t be silly — everybody has a temperature.” Actor Elliott Gould recalled a similar incident: “I recall the last time I saw Groucho, he was in the hospital, and he had tubes in his nose and what have you,” he said. “And when he saw me, he was weak, but he was there; and he put his fingers on the tubes and played them like it was a clarinet. Groucho played the tubes for me, which brings me to tears.”

Marx was hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with pneumonia on June 22, 1977, and died there nearly two months later at the age of 86 in August that year.
Marx was cremated and the ashes are interred in the Eden Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. He was survived by his three children and younger brother Zeppo, who outlived him by two years. His gravestone bears no epitaph, but in one of his last interviews he suggested one: “Excuse me, I can’t stand up.”
Groucho Marx once said, ‘Anyone can get old — all you have to do is to live long enough’.

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Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, Brainyquote, interweb, poetpas