During lockdown, the Oldie's favourite comedian Barry Cryer has been confined to his Hatch End home. So Oldie publisher, James Pembroke, and editor, Harry Mount, made a pilgrimage – and were treated to golden jokes and reminiscences.
They came bearing a copy of the programme from Barry's first big break, the 1958 musical Expresso Bongo, starring Paul Scofield – 'A lovely man,' Barry said. Barry wrote the title number for the show and launched into a lovely, basso profondo version of it for James and Harry. Barry played a character called Beast as well as a teenager in the show. Many thanks to Oldie contributor Michael Leapman for providing the programme. A year later, the play was made into the 1959 film, Expresso Bongo, starring Cliff Richard and Laurence Harvey.
Barry then told James and Harry a surreal joke – an unusual one for him. 'I tell it to audiences sometimes – and they're silent!' He said. 'But comedians love it.'
BARRY CRYER'S JOKE
A man walks into a pub and the landlord's astonished. Half of the man's head is half of a huge orange.
'So sorry to be nosy,' the landlord says, 'but why is half of your head half of a huge orange?'
'Well, I was cleaning up the loft,' the man says. 'And I found an old lamp. I polished it up, and a genie came swooping out of it, saying, "May I grant you any three wishes, master?"'
'So I said, "I'd like to have a million pounds – and every time I take the million pounds out of my pocket, another million appears there."'
The genie said, 'Your wish is granted. And your second wish?'
The man says, 'I'd like a big house with 100 beautiful ladies in it.'
'Your wish is granted,' says the genie. 'And your third wish?'
'I'd like half my head to be half of a huge orange.'