I’ve been harbouring my dark secret for…well, it must be several years now, but in line with the old saying that “confession is good for the soul”, and finding that the burden of keeping it hidden from the world has become too much to bear, I’ve decided that it’s time to own up and face the consequences. It isn’t easy revealing what I am about to reveal. I know that it flies in the face of public opinion and what has become accepted by most right-thinking people as a normal, unquestioned position. In fact as soon as I have finished writing this I will be putting on some old clothes and bracing myself in readiness for the inevitable opprobrium that will be heaped upon me. (I don’t know what opprobrium is - some sort of building material like sand or cement? - but whenever it is mentioned it always seems to be being heaped upon people) I can only hope that by “coming out” in such a public way I will encourage other like-minded men and women, realising that they are not alone, to pluck up courage and do the same.
A few years ago, when Barack Obama was campaigning to become President of the United States, he held a televised rally in which he and his supporters repeated the mantra: “Yes we can!” As I make my revelation, I’m like someone at the back of that mass gathering whose shrill, small voice can be heard above the clamour saying: “No we can’t.”
The truth is, and please don’t judge me too harshly: I don’t like Michael McIntyre.
There, I’ve said it. After years of meekly mumbling “yes” whenever anyone asked me if I liked the comedian - the highest earning “funny man” in the world, apparently - I have given my real opinion. I think matters came to a head last week when I started to watch his “Big Show”, a new Saturday night series on the BBC. I have always found his squeaky voice and the way in which he moves manically around the stage irritating, but it suddenly struck me that, despite the hysteria he was generating in the audience, there was a flaw in his act that, for me, would have been insurmountable even without my other reservations about him: I didn’t find him funny. He obviously is funny (his routine about the different speeds of car windscreen wipers created a storm of laughter around the packed theatre), while it was clearly hilarious when he took a celebrity’s mobile phone and sent a naughty text message to the man’s famous contacts, but I’m afraid that, for all the praise Michael McIntyre undoubtedly deserves for the clean, family-friendly nature of his shows, he leaves me cold.
Ken Dodd, Tommy Cooper, Morecambe and Wise, The Two Ronnies, Dave Allen and Frankie Howerd are among my favourite comedians. And, of course, the lugubrious Les Dawson, who was the subject of an enjoyable tribute programme on one of the other channels that I serendipitously came across after escaping from Michael M.
Whether playing the wrong notes on the piano, dressing up as Cissie and Ada with Roy Barraclough, reciting a rambling monologue full of poetic flights of fancy, recalling his poverty-stricken childhood or sending-up his mother-in-law, Les, who passed away in 1993, could always make me laugh:
“I took my mother-in-law to Madame Tussaud’s Chamber of Horrors, and one of the attendants said, ‘Keep her moving sir, we’re stock-taking.’”