Ian Wolf

Gigglebox Weekly #53 – Britain’s Oldest Stand Up

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Gigglebox Weekly With Ian Wolf

This week there was documentary hidden away in the schedules on More4. Part of their “First Cut” strand, it covered the return to stand up comedy of Jack Woodward, the oldest stand up comedian in the country, at the age of 90.

Like most of these sorts of documentary it was a tender programme designed to make you feel good and follow the hero of the story. The hero in this case, Woodward, used to be a warm-up man for the BBC and performed in northern clubs during the 1960s. When he died on his backside in Gateshead, the ladies threw coal at him. True story.

Woodward appears to be typical of his comic generation; a comedian who doesn’t like swearing but does enjoy double entendre, as is displayed by some of his gags and his favourite comedian being Max Miller, inventor of the blue joke.

And indeed a lot of this show was biographical. He’s been divorced twice, got married a third time but his third wife died, has survived a heart attack and has had a triple bypass operation. To be honest, I’d have preferred the documentary just got on with Woodward’s material – and eventually it did.

One scene shows him performing in an old people’s home, where his act goes down badly, although I personally enjoyed some of his original material. He then goes to professional comedy writer Les Keen (John Bishop’s Britain, Ask Rhod Gilbert, 8 Out of 10 Cats) to write some new material for him, and eventually Woodward warms-up for Ed Byrne at the Hammersmith Apollo.

Luckily, with only one or two minor worries, Woodward did well during the gig – although it could just have been audience sympathy!

I did like Woodward, though, and this documentary seemed to be a rather charming tribute to him. I doubt we’ll see much of him in the future, mind…