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My first lesson in comedy came from a kids’ book I bought for 70 cents | Shaun Micallef

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The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm taught me the value of playing it straight

I was born in 1962 but it may has well have been the 1940s. We didn’t have a TV so our radiogram was what I was sat in front of when my parents felt I needed to be entertained. There may have been a nod to the 60s with Round the Horne and Hancock’s Half Hour but mostly what I listened to was Men from the Ministry, ITMA, Much Binding in the Marsh and, my favourite, The Goon Show – all shows from the 40s and 50s. The absorption of all this audio into my brain resulted in an ability to parrot off catchphrases from a previous generation and “do voices”. I can still do a spot-on impression of an announcer by the name of Kenneth Horne – probably the most useless skill I have.

As well as a TV, we also didn’t have a phone – or carpeting. Also, I was born a month earlier than expected, so that when I was bought home I didn’t have a cot either. I know it sounds like we were poor but I don’t think we were much different from everyone else we knew. What I did have plenty of, though, were books.

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