There are two quintessentially British comedy shows on Radio4: I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue and Just a Minute. I was fortunate to see a double recording of the latter at the Edinburgh Fringe this year. On Monday 22nd I had two tickets for another double recording; the first ever at the British Library. But who to invite? The answer was an American friend from my old comedy improvisation group, who’s been living here for six years and is currently applying for British citizenship. The show’s marmite in nature, so I was concerned he might have to tough it out for ninety minutes.
I explained the rules: panellists have to talk without hesitation, deviation or repetition for sixty seconds. Bonus points are available for correct interruptions as well as humour. Panellists were Paul Merton, Giles Brandreth, Sheila Hancock and Ian McMillan.
I needn’t have worried. Ed didn’t need to understand the rules – this kind of classic humour encompasses everything an American loves about British comedy: clash of wits, spontaneous dazzling one-liners, clashes of power and personalities and general all-round silliness.
Suffice to say, Ed’s a convert. The poor guy’s studying a book half an inch thick for his citizenship test. I told him he should qualify for bonus points for having been to a live recording of Just a Minute.