From the archive: the genius of Eric Morecambe – The Guardian

Posted: April 13, 2020 at 8:49 pm


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One of the most hypnotic performers in the history of the box: Eric Morcambe, Observer Magazine, 8 September 1973. Photograph: Adrian Flowers/Adrian Flowers Archive

For the Observer Magazine of 9 September 1973, the legendary theatre critic Kenneth Tynan turned his attention to the comic genius of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise as they celebrated their 30th anniversary as a double act.

Tynan argued that they were at the point where sheer professional skill, raised to the highest degree by the refining drudgery of constant practice, evolves into something different in kind, conferring on its possessors an assurance that enables them to take off, to ignore, to achieve outrageous feats of timing and audience control.

But it was Morecambes mastery he focused on: Eric in particular has burgeoned into one of the most richly quirkish and hypnotic performers in the history of the box. And referring to the famous sketch in which Morecambe says hes playing the right notes but not necessarily in the right order He can even bully Andr Previn and the London Philharmonic.

He marvelled at Morecambes reflexes, which were among the wonders of the profession. He can modulate through a series like alarm/aggression/collapse/recovery/snide insinuation in about four seconds.

Ernie is the classic stooge, dapper and aggressive Eric is the comic off whose foolishness Ernie scores, he wrote. Huge black horn rims are a vital part of his persona. They highlight the look of suddenly dawning enlightenment, the blank stare aimed straight at the camera, the smug oeillade that accompanies asides like: This boy is a fool.

Tynan argued that they actually improved on the way from the variety stage to the small screen and noted how they had become two egotists in equal competition rather than simply comic and stooge. Ernie today is the comic who is not funny. And Eric is the straight man who is funny. The combination is brilliant, wholly original and irresistible.

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From the archive: the genius of Eric Morecambe - The Guardian

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April 13th, 2020 at 8:49 pm

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