Ylvis’ Stories from Norway

Untitled

Even those living under the sturdiest rock will remember when in 2013 the sounds of Ylvis’ “The Fox” hit the charts; mixing a comic sensibility with the most recent pop-sounds and blending those with homages to genre-tropes of old, the band had a successful run for about two years before fading into obscurity – till now!

Two months ago, Ylvis came out with a new album – “Hamar Town” – and I of course listened obsessively. Then, once I was only just coming down from the high, a new album appeared: “Superstar in Norway!”. I did some research, and it turns out the band was making a comeback with a 7-issue musical TV-series called Stories from Norway, in which they released one short-yet-complete satirical comedy-musical a week, with each story reflecting upon historical (and sometimes recent) events in Norway. The genre – both dramatic and musical – varies wildly from week to week, and sometimes even from song to song; this makes it all the more impressive that pretty much all the songs are so heartfully put together and so professionally produced.

I want to share my excitement with the world, and because of this I’ve made a small selection of some of my favorite hits so far (with a small description of the story to boot); have fun, and here’s hoping for season two!

1. Episode 1: The Diving Tower / Hamar Town

In which Byberg, the second most important man in Hamar town, practices his radical proposal for the coming city council meeting: to build a diving board; and in which Byberg briefly considers issues such as safety, structural soundness, and cost, but is quickly convinced by an outsider that such petty considerations are no match for sheer enthusiasm. Besides – “This is Norway; there is always more money”…

2. Episode 3: Northug / Guard Rail

In which the happiest guard rail, on the calmest road of all Norway, idly relishes in the relaxing pace of his life; and in which Petter Northug, the famous Olympic cross-country skier, crosses his path.

3. Episode 4: The Andøya Rocket Incident / Aurora Borealis

In which Norway enthusiastically praises and then launches a research rocket in january 1995, unaware that their rocket looks suspiciously like a missile. Meanwhile, Boris Yeltsin, president of the Russian Federation, is on the lookout for American submarine attacks…

david website

Advertisements

Eurovision Songs You Need To Know (2006 – 2017)

../Downloads/eurovision-logo.png

It is that month of the year again. The Eurovision season has begun. I remember that ever since 2006 I have been watching this big ol’ European glitter party. When I was younger I used to beg my parents to let me stay up late during this one week in May and they did. You see, to you 2006 sounds like an oddly specific year, but to me a lot happened in 2006. Eurovision-wise; I don’t really remember anything else from 2006. It was the year Armenia[1] first participated and Lordi won by singing “Hard Rock Hallelujah”. It was also the year I got my first crush. Remember Dima Bilan? Maybe not, but I do. You might also wonder: why up until 2017? I like to be surprised during the semi-finals instead of knowing every song by heart already prior to those semi-finals. I have no clue about what this year’s songs are going to be like.

Let me guide you through the past 11 years of Eurovision. Not all songs I’m going to mention are necessarily good songs, but I enjoy them and they are kind of iconic. I won’t be able to discuss all the songs I consider gems, so I’ve made a playlist with hopefully all amazing songs from the past years. There is no particular order to this compilation. The headings will be enough to understand. Buckle up, because you are in for a ride.

The winners

Each year obviously has a winner. I don’t like every song that has won[2], but some of them are actually pretty cool. The already mentioned winner from 2006, Lordi, is one of those cool songs. 2008 gave us the love of my life for a second time in a row. Dima Bilan won by singing “Believe”. Honestly, I prefer “Never Let You Go” from 2006 (which made Dima come in second, by the way), but “Believe” was a great song, too. After pretty boyo Dima came pretty boyo Alexander Rybak in 2009, who stole many hearts with his violin and dreamy eyes while singing “Fairytale”. Skipping ahead a couple years, we arrive in 2014: Queen Conchita Wurst. Controversies, as Conchita is a drag singer, but what a voice. “Rise Like a Phoenix” is such a powerful song. I can’t help but scream along when I hear it. In 2016, Jamala blessed us with “1944”. You can’t imagine how much I love that song. It is so emotionally loaded and Jamala sung it straight from the heart. Just thinking of the song makes me cry. I actually did cry when Salvador Sobral won last year with “Amar Pelos Dois”. True story. I was rooting for both Jamala and Salvador the past two years and let me tell you I regret nothing. Right there are two of my favorite Eurovision entries and I really want to thank both of them for blessing the continent (and Australia) with these masterpieces. Speaking of winners, we can’t forget about our friends from Lithuania, LT United. In 2006, they sang the song “We Are The Winners” and you know what? It was a joke of a song, but they came in 6th (!!!) with it. True winners, am I right?

Barbara Dex Awards

Can’t write about winners without mentioning these awards, can I? Ever since 1993, Eurovision fans vote for the worst stage outfit of the year. Barbara Dex was the first winner in 1993, hence the name of the award. That’s what I would call goals. Some Sona5winners of this award do deserve a mention, that’s why they get this special section here. Most importantly, Verka is on this list. I get it, ‘tinfoil’ isn’t really the best material to make stage outfits out of. But it’s fun. It’s different. It’s Eurovision. 2009 gave us Zoli Adok. Zoli had rip-off outfits during the performance. They didn’t look that great, if you ask me. Didn’t make a great impact either, because I had kind of forgotten about it. Milan Stankovic the following year wasn’t that bad, if you ask me. The song, “Ovo je Balkan”, is pretty cool, and Milan doesn’t look that weird. He just had bleached hair and long bangs. Rona Nishliu winning the award in 2012 is kind of odd, too. I guess people were weirded out by the hair and cape. You should give the song a listen, though. “Suus” is so emotional and beautiful and downright winner material. It’s a shame she came in 5th that year. But hey, we got “Euphoria”, right? Moje 3 deserved winning the award in 2013. All I could think while watching it that year was: Why? Just, why? Roos pointed out to me that they are kind of like Katy Perry meets Megan Trainor and I have to agree. I have another why regarding Slavko Kalezić winning the award last Sona6year. Why was he the worst dressed? Don’t tell me it was his long ass braid. His braid could have saved Eurovision last year. Triana Park, who came in second[3], looked far more hideous than Slavko. It was close, though, since Slavko won by getting 13 more votes. I’m salty anyways.

Everything else I’m salty about

Let me start with the ones who were left to die in the semi-finals. First off, I really want to scream at everybody who didn’t see the potential Uzari and Maimuna had in 2015 with “Time”. That gem didn’t make it into the finals and I am still so mad about it. Especially considering the fact that in 2015, the bottom four countries were the host country and 3 out of the 5 big-5 countries. Such a sad loss. Teapacks’s “Push The Button” from 2007 was such a creative and ingenious song, but alas, they didn’t make it to the finals either. Maybe because people thought it was too political. I mean, singing about launching bombs isn’t really the most child-friendly topic, but the performance was quite explosive. Explosively fun. Try to rap like that yourself. In 2016, Jüri Pootsmann’s masterpiece “Play” was didn’t get the recognition it deserves and Serhat’s “I Didn’t Know” didn’t make it either. Honestly, I get that some people might have been creeped out by this bald man with an eye patch singing, but why would this handsome young man who sang something that fits right into any other James Bond movie not sing during the finals? I loved both of them, but especially Serhat. Serhat had this old aura around him, while the song had such a great disco vibe. It was different. Speaking of different, 2008 gave us something very different. Dustin The Turkey-different. “Irelande Douze Pointewas a horrible song, honest to god, but damn it was different. A fun song. It was a singing turkey. Sadly enough, some people don’t like fun songs. Slavko Kalezić and his fun song “Space” failed to reach the finals last year. Trackshittaz’s “Woki Mit Deim Popo[4]”, an upbeat rap song sang by an Austrian duo filled with fun energy (and pole dancers) didn’t make it in 2012. I always get up and dance when this song comes on, because it has such a nice beat to go crazy on. Bless Youtube for making it possible for us to relive those beautiful, beautiful songs. Please do, you don’t want to miss out.

Now, where there is a winner, there is also a runner up. I’ve complained about Dima Bilan not winning in 2006 above, but he kind of redeemed himself two years later so I guess it’s fine. Besides, Lordi did deserve to win that year. 2007 blessed us with the best, truly best, song of the whole of Eurovision. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about Verka Serduchka’s “Dancing Lasha Tumbai”. Verka came in second in 2007. I am completely shaming you if you don’t know this song. Verka truly won Eurovision as a whole with this song. It’s beauty, it’s grace, it’s perfection. I’m not saying “Moltiva” wasn’t a good song, I’m just saying that I would’ve loved it if Verka had won. 2008 gave me some salt with the victory of Dima. Ani Lorak, representing Ukraine (just as Verka and Jamala), came in second with “Shady Lady”. You see, my boy Dima won, but Ani was so good that I almost hate Dima for winning. 2010 had maNga singing “We Could Be The Same” and coming in second place. They weren’t close or anything, somehow Lena had managed to conquer all the hearts of Europe, but I do believe that “We Could Be The Same” was a lot better than “Satellite”. Both, however, don’t come anything close to Safura’s “Drip Drop” from that same year.

The ones to sing along to

Let’s start this one right of the bat with “Dancing Lasha Tumbai”. If we are friends, I’ve probably sung this one multiple times in your presence. Whether it’s May or December, I’m always sieben sieben alulu sieben sieben eins zwei-ing. Another gem I’ve mentioned before is “Rise Like a Phoenix”. Screaming along with Queen Conchita is a real sport and I really recommend it. No list is complete without Koza Mostra and Agathon Iakovidis’s “Alcohol Is Free” from 2012 or Freaky Fortune and RiskyKidd’s “Rise Up” from 2014. Both songs are amazing to go crazy on. Just jump around, dance, scream, sing. They are perfect. And very Grecian, so don’t hesitate to drink along while listening. It’s free. Elaiza’s “Is It Right” from 2014 is a nice one to sing along to, too. It was Germany’s entry, by the way, so it’s kind of a big deal that it’s this nice to sing along to considering their prior acts. Another favorite of mine is Nadav Guedj’s “Golden Boy” from 2015. Speaking of 2015, “Golden Boy” was actually, if I’m being honest again, one of the only songs I like from 2015. 2015 was tragic. I blame Australia for that. I drove my friends mad the three weeks after Eurovision that year, because I just couldn’t stop singing it. Truly Israel’s Justin Timberlake. 2011: Jedward vs Eric Saade. I remember this fight that was going on on Twitter at the time between the fans and you know, I’m on team both. Jedward’s “Lipstick” and Eric Saade’s “Popular” are so energetic. Songs that wake you up. Songs that 2011 needed.

The Big 5

There they are, the five countries we[5] are all mad at because they usually end up at the bottom. Let me explain: each year, there are five countries who automatically enter the finals because they are the five biggest financial contributors that make this big ‘ol party happen. They basically pay for their fixed final spot. Their songs aren’t always that good, though. That’s fine, we don’t need pure gems to make it to the finals. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think they don’t try, I just think that sometimes they are better off sending in nothing. Just sometimes.

Let’s start with Spain. Remember “The Ketchup Song[6]? Why am I asking, you probably do. It’s by Las Ketchup (haha, funny) and Las Ketchup actually participated in Eurovision. What. A. Surprise. Las Ketchup participated in 2006 and sang the song “Bloody Mary”. Yes, there is an ongoing theme here and it’s tomatoes. 2008 Spain gave us Rodolfo Chikilicuatre’s “Baila El Chiki Chiki”, which is kind of a satire. It’s a fun song, it’s one of the few songs I remember from 2008. I just remember this one in a very specific context. I was at a birthday party. Give it a listen, you will enjoy it. Maybe even sing along. Manel Navarro sang “Do It For Your Lover” in 2017. It’s more of a beachy song with Manel looking like a surfer boy. It’s adorable and you won’t be able to get it out of your head. Maybe that’s why he ended up in last place.

You see, this is where I wanted to recommend you something from Germany, but I only have one song that is worth listening to and I’ve already mentioned that one. I’m not a fan of Lena, but she won, so maybe you might be? She’s not on my playlist, though. Elaiza is. I just love singing along to “Is It Right”. Give it a try.

Let’s talk about the United Kingdom. Especially about their 2007 entry. Scooch sang “Flying The Flag” and for some reason they got 19 points that year, making them shared 22nd with France. They wouldn’t have ended up anywhere higher anyways, but Scooch did not deserve those 19 points. Their singing was off and their stage was hideous. It was so British that I just have to mention it. There are a couple innuendos in there. My ears hurt when I listen to “Flying The Flag”, but it’s just too funny not to watch. Luckily enough, Blue did get rightful recognition for “I Can”, the only other song from 2011 I really liked. Your typical boyband sound. Can’t wait for someone from One Direction to participate in a couple years. I bet it’s going to be Harry. Or Liam. Or both of them. Zayn wouldn’t do it, though. That I’m sure of.

Sweet Italy. I have nothing to say. Not one of their entries from the past 11 years is worth talking about. Maybe last year’s monkey, but that would really be it. I’m sorry.

I actually have a couple entries from France I want to talk about. Les Fatals Picards’s “L’amour à La Française” is one of them. This one is from 2007. I don’t really know where or how to start explaining this song. It’s like Les Fatals Picards were high during this performance. In a good way. There is a cat on stage. This is the song that came in 22nd together with Scooch, by the way. I guess that says enough. Jessy Matador hit us with a real summer hit in 2010 when he sang “Allez Ola Olé”. An easy breezy beautiful song. Very summery. Actually ended up 12th, which is quite high for a country from the big 5. TWIN TWIN’s “Moustache” from 2014 was a fresh song to hear. Got two points, but hey, that’s at least something, right. France itself is a big thing in Eurovision, as everyone should know. Douze points, am I right? Dustin The Turkey did a shout-out to this with “Irelande Douze Points”, but some countries even go as far as singing in French[7].

The try-hards

Eurovision knows two countries who do everything, but really everything, to get that win. Or almost win. Or top 5 spot. Two countries who take this whole party a little bit too seriously. I’m calling you out, Sweden and Russia. There is nothing wrong with trying your utter best to get a win, but it gets kind of really boring. I loved Dima 10 years ago. Serebro did great in 2007. “Song #1” is a good song, different, fun. Serebro looked kind of punk. Not as different and fun as “MiMiMi[8], but hey, Serebro was still young in 2007. Anything else from Russia after 2008 was so generic. Everything besides the grandmas from 2012, of course: Buranovskite Babushki’s “Party For Everybody” was fun and not boring. Everybody loves a group of grandma’s performing on stage without breaking a hip. That’s just sweet and endearing to see. Sweden, then, is like Russia’s annoying little sister who always wins the argument. Or the better twin. Or the favorite grandchild. In the past 11 years, Sweden has won twice. Twice!! And not once was the winning song one of my favorites for that year. I’m not hating on Sweden’s entries or anything, I’m just telling you my opinion. I am, however, hating on all entries with Swedish producers. That’s a thing. Sweden obviously knows the secret formula for a Eurovision win and everybody wants in on it. Stop doing that, please. Don’t kill originality and heritage and emotional ballads and shiny things. Make Eurovision fun again.

All the emotions

Some songs just make you feel so damn emotional that it just hurts. I cry like seven times when watching Eurovision because of this. Let me walk you through those emotions. 2017 gave us Joci Pápai’sOrigo”. You know, that weird Hungarian guy with that one dramatic female dancer singing in Hungarian. I love “Origo”. Artsvik’s “Fly With Me” is another one of those amazingly produced songs that just didn’t get the recognition it deserves. Her vocals are so damn strong it messes with me. Gabriela Gunčíková was robbed in 2016 when “I Stand” ranked 25th. Yes, you read that correctly. I’m shaming everyone for letting her down like this. Go listen to “I Stand”. In 2015, we had Elina Born and Stig Rästa sing “Goodbye To Yesterday”. I love this song. It’s simple and real. It’s not your typical love song. It screams emotion. Aminata’s “Love Injected” from the same year totally swept me off of my feet. I was rooting for her so bad. It’s an epic song and Aminata’s voice has such a grand range. It’s so versatile. If you ask me, she is the real winner of 2015. Aram MP3’s “Not Alone” from 2014 is another one of those emotionally loaded songs. You can hear so much pain in his voice (and see in his face, man he looked tired as hell), and he again proves that you don’t need a whole circus in order to put on an amazing performance. I’ve told you about Rona Nishliu, haven’t I? Let me tell you more. “Suus” was performed in 2012, in Albanian and it so beautiful you will see angels when listening to the song. I swear, you will. Rona has a special gift and she shared it with us and I am really happy she did. Let’s talk about 2010 for a bit. Boy did Europe fuck up in 2010. Safura came in 6th with “Drip Drop”, which is a shame. She should have won. Say it with me. Safura should have won Eurovision in 2010. Her voice sounds so genuine and her dress has lights. Actual working lights. She put down a real emotional performance. The same goes for Alyosha when she sang “Sweet People”. I get goosebumps every time I listen to this song. The message is so real. Her voice is so real. Give it a listen and you will understand. While you’re at it, also give a listen to Harel Skaat’s “Milim”. His voice is so powerful. It’s a shame his live performance wasn’t the best, but the studio version is just as sad. In a good way. I genuinely sob every time I hear this song. And most importantly: let’s not forget Sopho’s masterpiece “Visionary Dream” from 2007. This was Georgia’s first ever entry and every time I hear this, I just feel cleansed and proud and motivated and inspired. It makes me genuinely happy, which is rare when it comes to Eurovision songs.

Now, that’s quite a list, isn’t it? I have probably failed to mention a lot more songs that are worth mentioning, but you see, it’s hard to cover them all. From 2006 to 2017, 487 songs have been performed at the contest. This year, another whopping 43 countries are participating. Tune in on 8, 10 and 12 May to see who will be the winner of the 63rd edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, because the only way you can really appreciate Eurovision is by watching Eurovision. Until then, please enjoy this Eurovision entry by Father Ted.

Endnotes

[1] This again might seem as a really specific country, but I am Armenian so it is kind of not that specific for me.

[2] I like songs that have a unique charm, that’s why the more generic poppy songs are not among my favorites.

[3] As in the next worst dressed person, not second in the actual contest. Hell no.

[4] The title has nothing to do with the police but everything with shaking your ass.

[5] Maybe you didn’t know yet but you hate them too. I have decided.

[6] Not a Eurovision song, but that popular childhood song. Asereje.

[7] I’m ignoring Switzerland and Belgium here since a variety of French is spoken in both countries.

[8] This isn’t a Eurovision song, again, but that one annoying meme song from 2013 that drives everyone crazy. Serebro really made it after Eurovision, as you can see. Real memes.

sona website

A Visualization of the Mind: Review of the “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime”-play

 

Have you ever heard someone say to you, “Read the book before you see the movie”? This is a philosophy I wholeheartedly believe in and try to live by. I generally like to read the original version of a story first and then venture into the world of its various forms of offspring, if and when it has any. So, the moment I found out I was going to go see a play titled The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, I decided it was time to tackle the novel it is based on. I read the book in less than two days and saw the play a couple of weeks after. Never had I experienced so many different and original ways of painting a picture of the human mind. In this case, the mind of a fifteen-year-old boy with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Curious_Case_Dog1

Mark Haddon is both the author and illustrator of this particular novel. I say illustrator, because there are many eye-catching illustrations scattered throughout the narrative. The ones that stood out to me in particular appeared on the first few pages and accompanied a passage in which the narrator, Christopher Boone, tries to explain the relationship between emotions and facial expressions. The images are probably the most basic drawings of various smileys and it is their simplicity which makes them so powerful, because it conditions the way our minds perceive human emotion. They create a universal mould for the aesthetics of feeling. Christopher, despite his autism, is able to use these “moulds” to bring what is inside our heads to the outside. Haddon’s visual trick allows the reader to gain a greater insight into the process of comprehension within an autistic mind.

This trick did not go unnoticed by Simon Stephens, who adapted the novel for the play. When I saw the show, it was performed by the original West End cast in The Royal Theatre Carré. The stage had the shape of a square and was from all sides (except for the side facing the audience) surrounded by huge floor-to-ceiling screens. About twenty minutes into the play, the same scene which I just described happened on stage. But instead of the smiley faces just being instantly projected onto the screens, the main actor who played the protagonist drew them on the stage while they simultaneously appeared on the screens behind him. This gave us as audience the feeling that we were drawing with him, that we were literally inside his mind. The visualization of Christopher’s thought process in the book was captivating. The play, however, took it to whole other level by taking the audience on a physical and visual journey through the land of Christopher’s mind.

Christopher has many intriguing goals and aspirations in life. One of them is his dream of becoming an astronaut. In the novel he describes how he would be a great one, because he is intelligent, he likes machines and he enjoys being confined in tiny spaces. When you are reading this passage, it seems as though the more Christopher thinks about it the more his lifelong dream because an actual daydream. He drifts off deeper into his thoughts and as a reader you cannot help but drift along with him. Unfortunately, Haddon did not take this opportunity to insert some illustration of the solar system into these few pages. The play, however, did do that. And much more.

The scene in which this passage came to play started off with Christopher lying down on the floor in a fetal position. Then he continued to describe why he would be a great astronaut, while the rest of the cast carried him around the stage, making it look like he is actually floating in space. This astronomical feel was even further enhanced by the projection of a huge number of twinkling stars on the screens behind them. While Christopher “floated” around on stage he went deeper into the daydream by talking about the universe and the pros of living a life in space. Again, the play managed to make the inner workings of Christopher’s mind into a visually captivating spectacle. For a moment, his daydream became our reality.

Throughout the novel, Haddon makes it clear that having Asperger’s Syndrome is definitely not all fun and games. Because of his autism, Christopher struggles with things which in day-to-day life we would not even give a second glance. For example, he says, “I see everything.” By this he does not mean that he is some weird “Big Brother” figure who watches your every move, but he literally means that notices everything. According to him, most people never actually look at something. All they really ever do is glance which means the impulses they receive from the outside world are only a fraction of what Christopher has to put up with daily.

Because his brain is so easily stimulated, Christopher often gets overwhelmed by new experiences. At some point in the story, however, circumstances in his life force him to do just the thing he hates. He has to use the London Underground, which is something he has never done before. Haddon visualizes this experience with different fonts of text that are haphazardly depicted as bold or cursive. The words that he has used for this are taken from the signs, advertisements and announcements that one encounters in the Underground. To further highlight the intensity and density of these stimuli, Haddon does not use any spaces in between the words.

Curious_Case_Dog2

The same scene was portrayed in the play as well, but in a very different way. The cast performed a skillfully choreographed routine, which symbolized the rhythm of the trains coming and going and passengers getting on and off. The serenity of this routine was juxtaposed with heavy metal music, which was meant to reflect Christopher’s chaotic mind. On the screens words were depicted in a similar manner as in the book, only now they appeared independently rather than as one whole. The entire scene moved in a sort of crescendo manner as the choreography got more intense and the music louder. As an audience member, I could not help but go a little crazy myself and that was one of the things that made me realize the play was so unique. It managed to show, even if it was only for a couple of minutes, what extreme pressure an autistic mind is constantly under. This gives you perspective on the workings of your own brain and makes you very grateful for its laziness.

In this article I do not mean to determine that either the book or the play is better as a whole. I do believe, however, that when it comes to the aspect of visualizing the mind, the play managed to achieve this in a more impactful manner. This is because the mind is not a 2D entity like a book is. Even though that is something that Christopher probably would have much preferred.

paulina website

The Comic Loss of 2014

2014 has not been the best year for comedy and that is putting it mildly. During the course of the year three pioneering comedians have passed away: Rik Mayall, Robin Williams and Joan Rivers. They have been influential in their respective comedy scenes as well as worldwide, and inspired a great many comedians that followed in their footsteps. Stand up, theatre, sketches, opera, television, film and even a little bit of music: they filled all of it with distinctive humour. There is no doubt that they are sorely mourned, but their body of work will solely bring forth laughter. Here, we commemorate this threesome with a small look at their oeuvres.

Rik Mayall (1958 – 2014)

RickMayall

This burst of blunt British force rose to fame in the eighties. He made a name for himself as an alternative comic alongside his long-time comedic partner Adrian Edmondson. They moved in the same circles as notable figures as Ben Elton, Rowan Atkinson, Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, and appeared in The Comic Strip Presents and the hugely successful Blackadder series. All of them performed alternative sketch comedy around the same time and were seen as ‘the next big thing’. Mayall and Edmondson became just that with the remarkable show “The Young Ones“, which was partly written by Mayall. The duo also starred in their own shows The Dangerous Brothers and Filthy Rich & Catflap, but their most notable characters were Eddie Hitler and Richard Richard in the slapstick television series Bottom and its subsequent theatre iterations.

Robin Williams (1951 – 2014)

Robin Williams

What can be said about the man of a thousand faces, voices and gestures? You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who has owned a television or computer and has never heard of or seen Robin Williams. As an actor, he gave his characters unique personalities, humour and humanity, and as a comedian he let his imagination roam free as a hyperactive cheetah. This was a man that could improvise on anything and create a show out of a single atom. His brand of lightning-fast stream-of-consciousness comedy is unfathomably funny and has been unsurpassed for nearly forty years. He still regularly performed stand-up in small clubs – up until his death – because he loved the medium so much. Comedy and love were at his core. For instance, when his friend Christopher Reeve suffered a terrible accident, Robin paid his hospital bills, but not before posing as a foreign physician so he could enter the hospital, visit his friend and insist on giving him a rectal exam. This was a comedian in every fibre of his being.

Joan Rivers (1933 – 2014)

Joan Rivers

The longest-serving comedian in this article was a pioneer in female comedy. Her first acting credits date back to the fifties, but her big break did not arrive until 1965, when she appeared on Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show. From then on she was a star. Her performances and prominence paved the way for virtually every female comedian that followed her. On-stage, she displayed a satirical and blunt form of humour, which was often self-deprecating. Occasionally a few of her jokes got her into trouble, but that never bothered her, as she saw her jokes for what they were: jokes. Her taboo-breaking work and her very recognisable personality set her apart from her peers.

Because of the influence these three comedians have had on their respective fields and how great their material is and remains, 2014 is an extremely sad year for comedy. Without Rik Mayall, British alternative comedy wouldn’t have had its vigour and madness. Without Robin Williams, there would be no comedy theatres – no comedian would have been able to make a living if it weren’t for him. Without Joan Rivers, female comedians would not have been allowed to be as nasty as they can be. In short: comedy around the globe would not have been the same if it weren’t for these three. Honestly, 2014 could only get worse if Billy Connolly, Bill Cosby, another Python or Rowan Atkinson snuffs it: we’ve had enough ex-comedians for one year.

 

JULES