Writer, publisher, raconteur and fellow Liverpudlian Tim Quinn pays tribute to comedian Ken Dodd, who died yesterday aged 90, who was not only a star of TV and stage, but comics, too…
“Ken Dodd was a true legend across Great Britain,” says Tim. “For me (and many others) he was the Funniest Man in the Universe. He has kept me laughing since the 1950’s. I was over the moon a short while ago when Ken jumped on board in support of all the ideas put forward by the FAB 4000, Liverpool Heartbeat and Create Change.
“He made the world a better place by bringing laughter and happiness to millions over his lengthy career. One of the greatest Super-Heroes. The stars shine brighter tonight with Ken amongst them. Forever young!”
Happiness and Tears
Liverpool is raining Tears this morning as I wake to the news of the death of Ken Dodd.
But, and it is a huge butt as we used to say in the Music Hall, I can’t help but smile. What an amazing life. I don’t know if the Guinness Book of Records has done the math, but I feel confident that Ken must have broken all records for having made more people laugh in his lifetime than any other comedian or politician even.
(Ken entered the Guinness Book of Records in 1974 with a marathon mirth-quake at the Royal Court Liverpool lasting three hours, 30 minutes and six seconds).
“I’ll never hang my tickling stick up, because it’s a wonderful way of life… I’ve got the best job in the world, because I only see happy faces.”
My earliest memory of Ken is way back in the 1950’s when our whole family would head round to my Grandparents’ house (they had the telly) to gather round the box and watch his Christmas specials. Ken was totally Music Hall but, at the same time, unique. And then, of course, there was that Liverpool/Knotty Ash spirit. Gloriously subversive but with a clown’s smile. We loved him. It was round that time that he started popping up as a character in my weekly comic books. You know you’ve made it when you appear in the comics!
I first met him back when I was sixteen going on seventeen. Nope, not in Austria, but rather backstage at Leeds world famous City Varieties Music Hall. I was a stagehand and he was Ken Dodd. The jokes flew thick and fast whether on stage or behind the scenes. He didn’t have an off switch. It was at that first encounter that he told me to get my haircut for what became a running gag between us.
“You’ll never make it in this business with hair like that,” he beamed, running his hand through his own mop top. He appeared at the theatre regularly with his legendary never-ending shows. Hours and hours and hours of laughter. As you staggered homeward, you were weak from laughing so hard and hunger. He would always warn audiences to bring sandwiches and a flask.
I remember that Ken would always give our stage manager a tip of £20 to be shared with the stage crew (a lotta dough back then). We never got it, of course, as the SM was a character in his own right.
Since returning to Merseyside a few years ago, I was delighted to bump into Ken here, there and everywhere. He was often out and about in the town. The first I would know of his presence would be the cry, “Get yer hair cut!”
I was lucky enough to hold a TV interview with the man just two years ago. It was way too short considering Ken’s lengthy career.
I told him I really wanted to sit and talk with him as the cameras rolled for a week as only he had the stories from early Music Hall days onwards. He nodded in agreement but then life got in the way. However, I’m over the moon that just before he became ill, Ken gave his support to my FAB 4000/Liverpool Heartbeat project.
Ken Dodd – One of the greats, most certainly.
Warm, friendly, hilarious, charming, beautiful, comedy genius, Liverpudlian.
My love and thanks for every one of those 90 years.
Tim Quinn – writer, publisher and more – is the genius behind the FAB4000 project that he created with Russ Leach, inspired by Jayne Massey and her seeing eye dog Witney who feature in the stories. Ken Dodd recently gave his support to the project, and Tim is working on the latest edition for the Merseyside charity, Liverpool Heartbeat – www.liverpoolheartbeat.com. The comic is due out in the next few months Find out more on Facebook. You can find Tim online at mightyquinnmanagement.com
• BBC News: Ken Dodd was ‘life-enhancing and brilliant’ – tributes paid to the comedian
• Leicester Mercury: 15 of Ken Dodd’s best jokes
• The Guardian – Ken Dodd Obituary
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