Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The late northern club comedian Bobby Thompson included some sharply amusing memories of pit-village Christmas and New Year celebrations in his Little Waster routine. About seasonal hangovers he observed:"You're that dry you could sup ink...and your head's throbbing like a melodeon."

Quoting from the great man's Little Waster scripts doesn't give enough of the true flavour of Bobby's workshy, beer sozzled persona. Most of the magic was in his delivery and onstage demeanour: a short waiflike figure in flat cap and over-sized jumper, Woodbine cigarette permanently in left hand.

Bobby Thompson had two showbiz careers: his pre-1960s act which was curtailed by the disastrous TV series Wotcheor Geordie. Only a handful of viewers could understand his regional accent during that flop national TV series. As I've recorded in the above strip, Bobby hit hard times following his failure to crossover from regional comedy to a wider audience and could in later years only be found broke in betting shops or drunk and alone in seedy Newcastle pubs.

Veteran BBC Radio Newcastle DJ Frank Wappat claims he rescued Bobby Thompson's career by offering him unpaid comedy spots at his evangelical Byker Mission church nights. From these increasingly popular appearances Bobby's observations about debt, avoiding work and being hen-pecked hit a note of recognition and the second, more successful phase of Bobby's comic life began. He became one of the highest paid working men's club acts of the 70's & 8o's - a once thriving entertainment circuit which is now in decline. Not too much of Bobby Thompson's act remains: one DVD and a 3 Disc CD set, both of which are 100% recommended and most of which I can quote verbatim. His following is still active, every year Tyne-Tees TV runs ads for Bobby's DVD, but now his Woodbine is blacked out by some politically-correct editor. I've also seen posters locally for a Little Waster Tribute act, but not surprisingly have heard negative reports. Everyone round here knows there's only one Little Bobby.

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