Thursday, 5 June 2014

Why I love David Walliams.

Following on from my Roald Dahl blog, extolling the virtues of a hero, I will now gush and fawn over another hero: David Walliams.
In 2003, I watched from episode one, the delightfully dotty, surreal, hilarious, extraordinarily clever 'Little Britain' TV programme. I was instantly hooked. It was written and performed by two very talented and funny men; David Walliams and Matt Lucas. It had everything I require from a TV comedy: monstrous but well-formed, addictive characters; vulgar, crass but razor-sharp perceptive writing; great catchphrases; and most importantly, it was hysterically funny. It wasn't politically correct - but hardly anyone cared about that. With comedy this good and the fact that it was knowingly politically incorrect - it made pertinent points about racism, homophobia, transgenderism, mental illness and suchlike far better than the most earnest documentary or comedy ever could.
Populated by insane characters and narrated by an equally insane Tom Baker - the series explored the eccentricities of our great nation. Anne, a mentally challenged woman/man, with the constant refrain of 'Eh-eh-ehhh!', is a psychiatrist's project to integrate her into society. She does bizarre things, yet answers the telephone in a perfectly normal manner. The bored and listless Carole Beer, 'Computer says no' then coughs in your face. Too many people in Customer Service are like her! Maggie Blackamore, the Women's Institute stalwart, who vomits copiously after eating anything made by a racial minority, or a gay person, or homeless people et al. She highlights deep rooted prejudice at the heart of society. There's Emily Howard, the unconvincing transvestite, 'I'm a lady!' Who could forget the codependent but often touching relationship between Lou and Andy? Andy: 'I want that one.'...'I don't like it.' And of course Daffyd, 'the only gay in the village' highlights the desperate desire of some to be marked out as different and to wallow in being misunderstood. Marvellous characters.
'Little Britain' was followed by 'Little Britain Abroad' and the American spin-off, 'Little Britain USA', I loved Mr Dog!
David Walliams has to be the campest man who is not gay. He continues a fine camp comic tradition, following in the footsteps of greats like Kenneth Williams and Frankie Howerd. Walliams actually portrayed Howerd in a BBC drama. His camp persona has boosted 'Britain's Got Talent', with his outrageous flirting with Simon Cowell and his off-the-wall but mostly supportive comments on the contestants.
Since 2008, Walliams has written six children's books and comparisons to Roald Dahl are valid, yet they are classics in their own right and have Walliams' unique, individual stamp on them.
'Gangsta Granny' is a prime example of Walliams' writing: funny, direct and moving. "'It's called ballroom dancing,' corrected Dad, 'And you don't love it. You said, and I quote 'I would rather eat my own bogeys than watch that rubbish.'"
Ben thinks his granny is boring - all she does is play scrabble and her TV hasn't worked since 1992. 'As she took each step a little bubble of wind popped out of her saggy bottom. It sounded like a duck quacking.'
Then he discovers that she was once an International jewel thief and all her life has been plotting to steal the Crown Jewels and needs Ben's help. The story challenges stereotypes, is outrageously funny but also poignant and moving. I read 'serious' novels sometimes, but I also like to have a blast when I'm reading a book. I had a blast with Gangsta Granny, but it was never trite and made pertinent points just as serious novels do.
Then there's 'Mr Stink'. This one boasts illustrations by Quentin Blake, Roald Dahl's marvellous illustrator. This one is my favourite. So easy to read and so in tune with its depiction of how it must be to be a 'stinky' tramp - and all of the horrendous soul loneliness that entails. Then a heartwarming connection: Chloe, a lonely little girl befriends him and hides him in her garden shed. It challenges prejudices and preconceived ideas about tramps. Maybe, it will help a generation of children to grow up with an enlightened attitude towards the homeless and that can only be a good thing. Don't dismiss them because they smell and look dirty, and seem strange or frightening. There is more to them than meets the eye. The book conveys this message very well. How awful it must be to be homeless - cold, hungry, disconnected...but I imagine the total soul despair to be the worst thing. If this book helps rid our country of the disease of homelessness, then power to its elbow.
There's more books you must try, including 'The Boy in the Dress' (speaks for itself), 'Ratburger' and 'Billionaire Boy'.
For me, the world needs people like David Walliams. His sense of the ridiculous illuminates our lives, but his work is socially aware and humanist at its core.
If that sounds a tad pretentious - to rephrase - the world needs people like David Walliams, just because they are so damn funny!

No comments:

Post a Comment