Britain's Most Loved and Best Comedy Double Act

A Funny Thing Happened On Stage

1972 Article


Eric and Ern
From the School Boy’s Annual 1972 comes this abridged section from a feature entitle “A Funny Thing Happened On Stage”.

A lot of stars have managed to avoid tricky situations by using off-the-cuff humour, or ad-libbing, as it is now more commonly known.

Recognised masters in the art of ad-libbing are Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, whose TV shows regularly enjoy top ratings.

Such is their reputation for ad-libbing that Eric and Ernie freely admit that they are on a loser if nothing goes wrong with their shows.

“If it looks wrong, then its right for us,” say Eric and Ernie. “That’s because we are well known for forgetting out lines and have to ad-lib to get ourselves out of trouble. Sometimes the script is completely forgotten and we will ad-lib about anything which takes our fancy.”

Eric Morecambe says: “Ern has a quick mind and will often come out with very funny comments about situations during rehearsals for our show. Consequently I’m on my guard during the actual show, in case he throws any of these funny lines. But he never does.”

“Instead he’ll say something which is not in the script and which I don’t understand, and we end up ad-libbing like mad until one of us comes out on top.”

Ernie Wise says: “Eric loves to get me going, and instead of following the script will say things like: ‘are you sure you should have said that, Ern?’ or he’ll simply say ‘pardon?’. This completely throws me for a minute and the panic sets in. But we usually come out of it all right and nobody outside the studio seems to notice that anything is wrong.”

Their ability to get laughs out of nothing is so unique that all their TV shows have five minutes addes to allow for ad-libbing. But this invariably isn’t enough and you can usually see them hurrying to get all their gags in before the credits come up.

© World Distributors 1972

You may also like:

Two Of A Kind
Morecambe & Wise rank alongside bacon and eggs, cheese and pickles and bubble and squeak as one of the great partnerships of our time. Article taken from the 1974 Look-In TV Comedy Annual.