Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Remembering Joyce Grenfell: The observational comedian who genuinely loved people
All strata of society were grist to her mill – she could turn herself into the grande dame at the opera, the bosomy good soul who does the flowers in church, or the young working-class wife on her day out, and she could portray all of them without malice or sneering.
She would also have thought that the self-obsession of today’s stand-ups was extremely vulgar (she could be right).
writes Rupert Christiansen in his wonderful Daily Telegraph tribute to Joyce Grenfell, who was born exactly 100 years ago this month.
Grenfell was a very funny observational comedian, but her comedy, as Christiansen notes, never involved malice. Although coming from a privileged background- her aunt was Lady Astor and she spent much time at Cliveden, she was no snob.
Her humour - based upon her genuine love of people- contrasts sharply with the nasty, sneering and misanthropic humour of today’s middle-class observational comedians.
Jimmy Carr, Sacha Baron Cohen, Lucas and Walliams, as I noted here, get their laughs by sneering at those they think are their inferiors- something Joyce Grenfell never did.
Christiansen begins his short tribute by saying:
"Perhaps somebody somewhere has marked the centenary of one of the truly great comic stand-ups, but if they have, I didn’t notice.”
Alas, it seems the dear boy doesn’t take the Morning Star.