...Which Is Nice

Good comedies make people laugh, but only the truly great alter speaking patterns and phraseology.

Fans of comedy rejoice, The Fast Show is coming back! Confirmed by Charlie Higson earlier last week, we can all expect to hear Please Release Me in November again, with all the old gang bar Mark Williams set to return. Only when you think back on the myriad characters and catchphrases they'd churn out every week do you realise just what an excellent show it was: Good comedies make people laugh, but only the truly great alter speaking patterns and phraseology.

While The Fast Show had the genre licked, catchphrases can be a difficult source of humour; their shelf-life can be limited and over-reliance on them is a road you don't necessarily want to go down. But, when you do it right it's a joy to behold, as some of my personal favourites below would attest.

Not unlike that other comedic doyen of derring-do, Blackadder's Lord Flashheart, Ace Rimmer doesn't feature much but leaves an indelible mark. Another classic that's set for a return soon, Red Dwarf provided us not with only required Friday night viewing (and provided me with one of my formative crushes in Chloe Anett's Kristine Kochanski) but also one of the most bombastic sons of a gun to ever crocodile surf out of a plane. Extra marks for Ace for having one of the few catchphrases long enough to require a comma in the middle.

The great Kenny Everett was a man of many talents, be it single-handedly inventing a genre of radio and giving Bohemian Rhapsody its first airplay or impersonating Rod Stewart and his ever-expanding arse, but among all his comedy creations it's his buxom starlet Cupid Stunt that stands out. As it were.

Perpetually exasperated former security guard Victor Meldrew (who had a catchphrase so powerful it got used in another sitcom) angered up our screens for a decade in the black-as-your-boot comedy One Foot In The Grave. Typically, the show didn't end happily after its ten year run, with Victor being killed in a hit and run accident. Worse yet, the same night the final episode went out it just so happened that ITV was showing Judith Keppel become the first person to win the top prize on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

What started life as *annoyed grunt* on a script page became one of the most famous utterances ever. Actor Dan Castellaneta racked his brain as to what Homer Simpson's annoyed grunt may sound like when Oliver Hardy came to mind, and his rueful exclamation formed the template for a syllable that would take over the world.

Thinking of a favourite Fast Show quote is a lot like making love to a beautiful woman: it's nearly impossible to pick a favourite bit. Scorchio? Does my bum looks big in this? This week I have been mostly eating? But for me, it has to be John Actor's tough, uncompromising copper/doctor/vet/foreign doctor, Monkfish. That's Inspector/Doctor Monkfish to you!


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