“I thought he was dead”.
That’s the line most people gave me when they heard I was going along to see a Ken Dodd gig in Dunfermline last night; well that and the disgraceful “I’ve never heard of him” from some younger folks.
No folks, Ken Dodd is not dead; instead at the grand old age of 88 he’s still touring the country every weekend performing his epic gigs that have become the stuff of legend.
I’ve seen my fair share of stand-up shows over the years – including the great Billy Connolly – and they tend to last an hour, maybe two at max, but Dodd is well known for going on long into the night with reviewers suggesting you take a blanket and some breakfast just in case.
Surely though a show starting at 7pm would be out reasonably early?
From the picture on the back of programme of Dodd holding up a clock reading five to midnight to his early jokes about how we’d soon find out what it’s like to be in a hostage situation, and that by time the show ends our loved ones would have reported us all missing, it was clear this might last a while.
Dodd finally wrapped up his show at 23:45, nearly five hours after first walking on the stage.
Of course, there was an intermission at around 10pm as well as a couple of breaks from the man himself as he gave up the stage for two musical variety acts to go through (thankfully) short sets, but all in all he was front and centre for well over three hours.
And what of his act?
Though it dipped a little bit after the intermission as the man from Knotty Ash went on a long, rambling anecdote about a man entering a monastery, it was mostly engaging and laugh-out-loud funny throughout, even though it was sometimes a little bit difficult to hear what he was saying thanks to a combination of old age and a chest infection. The highlight of the night was the last 45 minutes when he brought out his famous Diddy Man, Dicky Mint to a huge ovation before finishing with rousing renditions of two of his most famous songs, Absent Friends and Happiness.
Now you might think that that is just standard Dodd, and if you look up either of his ‘Audience with…’ shows that are available on YouTube you’ll see him perform an almost identical last section of his act, but it doesn’t matter; Dodd’s delivery, enthusiasm and all-round mastery of his craft meant that it was still as brilliant as when you first saw it performed.
It was worth the price of admission, and then some.
For a guy of his age to stand out there and hit us with joke after joke and song after song for as long as he did is nothing short of incredible. Equally incredible was that I could attend anything for nearly five hours and not want to leave.
Ken Dodd is a national treasure – and legend – and while he no doubt has a few years left in him, it wouldn’t be unfair to suggest that he won’t continue to tour for too much longer.
So if you want to see him, do it. Sure, be prepared for a long night, but you won’t regret it.