Culture

Bernie Clifton still has legs without Oswald the Ostrich

In our Summer Comedy Special, the biggest comedy legends of old share their favourite gags and funny stories

Why do we like to be by the seaside? Apart from the sun (occasionally) and donkey-strewn sand, it is the ‘end-of-the-pier’ stand-ups who stand out. These staples of summer seasons still populate the nation’s collective memory so we thought we’d bring together some of the greats for our Summer Comedy Special.

Stage duo Bernie Clifton and Oswald the Ostrich have worked together since 1970s. But despite Oswald retiring earlier this year, Bernie’s career at the age of 82 still has legs…

Bernie says: “Seaside is my territory, sadly that should be ‘was’. The demise of summer shows and with them family entertainment is a shame.”

Clifton recalls the words of the late great Ken Dodd: “The greatest compliment you can pay me is to call me an ‘End of the Pier’ comedian. Imagine, three generations battling their way up the pier, roped together, in the teeth of a gale, just to be entertained. Families laughing together, I’m proud to be part of that.”

My earliest joke as a kid: In my weekly comic, Lord Snooty and his pals couldn’t afford tickets for the circus, so they walked in backwards, everyone was convinced they were coming out, I thought ‘Genius!’
(I never tried it though).

My first big laugh on stage: I saw a man pulling a cabbage on a dog lead. I asked him why, he said, “Oh, I thought it was a collie” (cauliflower… you had to be there).

My go-to gag: The Flintstones’ stage tour of the Middle East had mixed reactions… “People in Dubai don’t like The Flintstones but the people in Abu Dhabi Doooooo.”

A joke from a comedy hero: From Bob Monkhouse: “When I told everybody I was going to be a comedian they all laughed at me… well, they’re not laughing now!”

What do members of the public say to you most? “Oh, you’re not the one that died then?”

Bernie Clifton is touring this autumn. His CD The Voice of Bernie Clifton is available at bernieclifton.co.uk

In our Summer Comedy Special some of the biggest comedy legends share their favourite gags and funny stories with us.

Image: Getty/Ross Lesley-Bayne

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