by Louis Barfe
Louis Barfe has written a definitive biography of one of the best-loved and most enduring figures of British comedy, the eccentric genius and national treasure Ken Dodd, whose career straddled the end of the variety era and the golden age of television comedy.
Here, he will be in conversation with Jason Hazeley, co-author of the adult Ladybird books and Philomena Cunk.
Dodd’s act was frenzied and zany, exploiting his saucer-eyed, buck-toothed appearance and deploying a repertoire of one-liners, whimsical saucy inventions and liberal doses of saucy – but never dirty – jokes.
He made extensive use of an alternative vocabulary – ‘tattiphilarious’, ‘goolified’, ‘nikky-nokky-noo’, ‘discumknockerated’. He populated the Liverpool suburb of Knotty Ash, where he was born and died, with mythical kipper trees, jam-butty mines, black pudding plantations and broken biscuit repair works.
In the first serious biographical assessment of Ken Dodd since his death last year, Barfe argues that Dodd was the last of the great variety acts, a creator of superbly absurd vulgarity who was at his best not on the small screen but on stage, where his act – ‘a rolling boil of cumulative humour’ that stretched into the wee small hours of the morning – delighted his audiences across seven decades.
Louis Barfe is expert on all aspects of the entertainment industry. He is the author of Where Have All The Good Times Gone? The rise and fall of the record industry (2004), Turned Out Nice Again – the story of British light entertainment (2008) and The Trials and Triumphs of Les Dawson (2012)