“He displayed more comedic ability in merely touching his glasses and slapping the back of his neck repeatedly than I managed in the whole of Dorian Grey”
Eric Morecambe and Wise (14 May 1926 - 28 May 1984) was a British comedian and national institution who formed the funny half of British comedy institution
Cannon and Ball Morecambe and The Little One Who Isn't As Funny As Morecambe, a double act who saved every Christmas between 1967 and 1983 by giving everyone something good to watch on the telly when they were stuffed with food, bored with the presents and annoyed by the Queen's bloody speech.
John Eric And Ernie Bartholomew was born in the seaside town of Bridlington, Yorkshire in the 1920s to an optician and a smoking-pipe manufacturer. As such, little John adopted, from a very early age, his distinctive trademark pipe and glasses. He also learned that he had been blessed with magical comedic powers and could elicit laughter by merely touching his glasses, saying "Wehay!" and slapping short men on the cheeks.
In 1939 Bartholomew changed his name to Ms. Eric Bridlington - in honour of his home-town - in order to avoid the draft board and consequently spent much of the 1940s in a dress. It was during this period that he met and became besotted with a young lady in his typing pool called Emma Ironside. Unfortunately, their mutual attraction would remain unrequited as the Bridlington was forced to keep his true identity a secret.
In 1945, World War Two drew to a close Bridlington's excitement at dropping his pseudonym and revealing his true identity to Ironside grew. However, when the day finally arrived he was shocked to discover Ironside had also been masquerading as a woman to avoid the draft board. She revealed herself to be one Ernie Wise, and the two never spoke of their romance again.
They did, however, team up to work as a double act in British seaside towns. Bridlington's magical comedic powers meant that the task was an easy one. Wise would "set up" a joke by asking Bridlington to, say, brush his teeth and simply by acquiescing, Bridlington would have the audience rolling with uncontrollable manic laughter until their eyes bled and their teeth shattered.
Morecambe and WiseEdit
In 1950, after several years of touring as The Two Tremendous Turnout Tantric Tossers the pair embraced the new prevailing fashion for minimalism in order to secure a presence on television, changing their name to Bridlington and Wise, and then again to Morecambe and Wise mere seconds later.
This was a result of Eric's own change of name after the town of Bridlington fell out of public favour when Queen Elizabeth II visited and, emerging from a brisk paddle, was horrified to discover that she had a used condom on her foot and all shit between her toes. The nation was outraged.
Bowing to public pressure - and having toyed with the names "Eric Blackpool"; "Eric Filey"; "Filey Cleethorpes"; "Bognor Regis Skeggy"; and "Eric Sutton-on-Sea" - he settled on Morecambe due to his lifelong love of cockles, penny falls and crap theme parks.
The new Royal FamilyEdit
By 1969 Morecambe and The Other One were established as Britain’s foremost British comedy act. Art, literature, sport, engineering: all were considered redundant during the height of the success of Eric Morecambe. All that mattered to the British public was silly dances, the word "Arsenal", jokes about short, fat, hairy legs and what puppets think of things so far.
Celebrities would fight each other in the street in order to secure an appearance on an episode of The Morecambe And Wise Show. Angela Rippon famously broke Kate Adie's legs to prevent her from performing "Let's Face The Music" before hijacking the role for herself.
Celebrities such as The Beatles, Elton John, Harold Wilson, Richard Nixon, Queen Victoria, The Dalai Llama, Phil Collins, Mahatma Ghandi, Winston Churchill, Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson and The Lord Jesus Christ all queued up to appear, some even going to the extent of raising from the dead. One particularly impressive appearance was that of Captain John Yossarian who accompanied Morecambe and Wise in a comic rendition of "Fight the Power" despite being a fictional character.
The stress of being the most popular man in England, in possession of magical comedic powers, with people literally climbing out of their graves just to work with you took its toll on Morecambe. His Christmas specials - upon which the success of the upcoming year was to be judged - in particular placed him under great pressure and the month of December was inevitably peppered with heart attacks for the entertainer.
By his 300th heart attack in 1984, Morecambe decided to give up showbiz and retire to a private life. However, so popular and hilarious was he that people would flock from miles around just to hear him say "The boy's a fool!" or "More tea Ern?".
Morecambe decided to take drastic measures. He encased himself in concrete on the shores of the seaside town which bears his name. So that he would be forever entertaining his ensured that his was enshrined in his funny dance pose.
To this day, Morecambe looks out over Morecambe bay, watching over and protecting it's noble flock of asylum-seeking cockle pickers.