Les Dawson was simply amazing, he made the move from performing in working men’s clubs into the nation’s living room which allowed him to become both more sophisticated and a little dafter at the same time.
Before the alternative comedy revolution in the 1980s stand up comics were the mainstay of comedy in the UK and Les Dawson stood head and shoulders above the rest.
As you’d expect as a Northern stand up he had a repertoire of mother-in-law gags:
I can always tell when the mother in law’s coming to stay… the mice throw themselves on the traps.
My mother-in-law said ‘one day I will dance on your grave’. I said ‘I hope you do, I’ll be buried at sea.’
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.’
My mother-in-law fell down a wishing well, I was amazed, I never knew they worked.
My mother-in-law has come round to our house at Christmas seven years running. This year we’re having a change. We’re going to let her in.
Eventually Les made it onto prime time TV, here’s Les’s confrontational takeover of the BBC. Replacing the face and voice of the Beeb, Terry Wogan.
He also used the show as a means of getting across his bizarre shaggy dog stories.
Not many people remember Sez Les, a show from the early 70s with sketches featuring John Cleese that were just as surreal as Python.
Dawson was also famed for his piano playing.
And also impersonating women.