1902 – 1957
COMIC KING OF CHAOS, EMPEROR OF MANCUNIAN FILMS, BREAKER OF TABOOS, HURLER OF DENTURES….
One of the most fascinating aspects of comedy is its extreme subjectivity. Spatial, temporal or hierarchical boundaries can make or break a comic, the difference between side-splitting joy and stoney-faced silence. The great divide of the Atlantic is the most prominent example; how many British Variety or film stars failed to make it in the States? Even within their own country, audience reception for these stars ran to volatile extremes. Perhaps no performer exhibits this better than Frank Randle. A character comic of the 1930s-50s, he specialised in masterfully crafted human caricatures. Though carefully drawn, the ‘types’ he chose to burlesque were specific not just to Britain, but to the distinct identity of the Northern working classes. As a result, even within his own country he was of a highly localised appeal, both geographically and within the class system. Opinions on him violently jostled shoulders with one another, and still do. Revered as a demi-god by many, he has been equally reviled as “pure filth” by others. Randle was the epitome of “low comedy”, in behaviour and appearance. His body was a terminally mismatched assortment of gangly limbs, forever flapping in a glorious, dipsomaniac incoherence. His face was pure clown: a nose that drooped like a melting candle stub over a toothless mouth, curved up into a crafty grin or lecherous gurn. His eyes were piercing flashlights, alive with shifty glances and a dangerous glint. His was not the wistful clown-white mask of a Langdon or Keaton, nor even the cheeky, grinning façade of a George Formby, but the face of a comic anarchist. Randle’s anarchy was exhibited through performance and real-life. At his peak of notoriety, he broke middle-class taboos, ridiculed sacred cows and flouted authority. On stage, he belched, cursed, and spoofed dignity, but his real-life antics were even more colourful. Legends abound of his Plinian temper, of his firearm rages; of his dentures hurled into the front row of audiences; of wrecked dressing rooms or arson attacks on hotels that met his disfavour. Yet his public loved him for it. John Fisher likened Randle to the trickster Gods of Native American folklore, an excellent analogy. He seemed to exist to cause comic disruption, to ruffle stuffed shirts and, as he might put it, “poke me eye in the finger” of social convention. On-screen and off, Randle was a pulsating bundle of conflicting emotions that just could not be contained. He was, above all else, fascinating, as a comic and as a human being. RANDLE THE STAGE COMEDIAN To understand the comedy and personality of such a specifically contextual performer, we need to dip into his background. When he was born Arthur Hughes near Wigan in 1901, he entered an industrial landscape of hardship, of creaking, mildewed houses stacked rank upon rank, large families crammed into their tiny rooms. Men and children were sent to work punishing shifts down pitch-black coal mines, where they suffered sunlight deficiency and worked in the stench of their own body fluids under the constant threat of pit explosions. This was a monochromatic world of rain grey skies leaden with smog, the hacking coughs of Tuberculosis a constant echo. Above all, there was the preaching hypocrisy of tyrannical millowners and puritanical reformers who could not understand why the working classes ‘chose’ such squalor to live in. Anyone born onto this rung of the caste system was an outcast from polite society from birth, and it is no wonder that young Arthur developed a strong dislike of authority and official systems. His non-conformism was also heightened by an even greater burden: he was illegitimate. Sent away to live with family friends to avoid scandal in Edwardian England, the psychological impact on the young boy was considerable. He would develop an outsider personality from an early age, and drifted through a variety of menial jobs, determined to escape the grind of pits or factories. In his teens, he found himself drawn to perform, initially as a street performer impersonating Chaplin. Though not successful – he was once chased away from Blackpool pier – he would in time develop superb ability with physical comedy. This was matched by a talent for athletics and acrobatics, as he toured in juggling and trampoline acts, under the name Arthur McEvoy. Later, as Arthur Twist, he would maintain an even more Chaplinesque appearance.
For all his seeming lack of coordination in movement, Randle actually was a superb physical comedian. Had he been born ten years earlier, he might have followed in the footsteps of Chaplin, or another North Country comedian, Stan Laurel. While it‘s unlikely that he would have rose to the artistry of either, he could have at least given the Chaplinesque Billy Ritchie a run for his money. The savage, baggy pants slapstick of Randle’s later films is not a million miles away from Ritchie’s own oeuvre, and his gurning goonery is at times reminiscent of Larry SemonHad Randle chosen to exploit his visual humour along these lines, he could well have succeeded as a silent comedian of more versatile appeal. However, films were still a long way off in his career. We’ll come to those in a little while, but the stage acts he developed were the source of his initial fame, and deserve discussion separately. While physical comedy would remain in his act, it was increasingly used more as an adjunct to dialogue-based character humour. Now performing under the name of Frank Randle, he was persuaded to perform a monologue to cover a scene change. He chose to do so in the guise of a character he had come to know well, the old sailor running pleasure boat trips at the seaside. Such figures roamed the seafront in Randle’s adopted town of Blackpool, and were familiar to audiences.
Randle’s take was a broken down old sea captain with bushy moustache and pipe, his craft a broken down old wreck, and an almost total lack of passengers. His hustling cry of “Enny more fer sailin? Just room fer one or two more” was comically pathetic given his total lack of custom. The success of the character led him to introduce more such figures, and during the 1930s he carved out a niche in portraying defiant decrepitude. Perhaps the greatest in his triumvirate of legendary characters was based on another real life figure. During a cross-country race, Randle had met an 82-year old hiker, proudly full of vigour. He was inspired! In his version of the hiker, Randle amplified the comic theme of decrepitude from his sea captain. The hiker, gnarled and bow-legged, clung to a huge branch for support; in his own words, he looked like “ a monkey up a stick”. Attending a funeral, he recounts how he was told, “It’s not much use you going home at all!”. Geriatric he may have been, but he was growing old disgracefully, for in his other hand was a giant bottle of ale, from which he supped frequently. His imbibing was invariably accompanied by loud belches, and risqué tales of his encounters with young female hikers: “We walked along fer miles without saying a word… then I said to her, “A penny fer yer thoughts”. She gave me such a clout , eeee! I said “What’s to do? I only said “A penny fer yer thoughts” “Eeee,” she said, “I thought you said a penny for me shorts!” This sort of material seems pretty tame now, and the printed page doesn’t really do it justice. It was the comic incongruity of the little old Romeo that put it across. He was a classic earthy, red-nosed pantomime clown (indeed, in 1938 the hiker was incorporated into a hugely successful version of Aladdin). Randle himself termed his humour “Honest-to-goodness vulgarity”, a description right on the button. The hiker was an honest expression of the lust and pleasure of man, undimmed by age. It was given even greater honesty, and humour, by the fact that such characters really existed, still do, roaming the fore ale bars and five-bar gates of the North Country. Such types, locking innocent bystanders into rambling, incoherent conversations, aware of their own terminal decay yet still occasionally swayed by the chest-puffing delusion that they can play at being men-about-town, are living embodiments of Randle’s hiker. And, although this is a specific regional comparison, age and insobriety have been staples of comedy for as long as people have been laughing. The dual decrepitude of the hiker – the unavoidable ravages of time, and the self-inflicted insobriety – were to become Randle staples.
He combined them both again in another, later character. Randle’s ‘Grandpa’ was, like the hiker, aged and infirm but comically feisty. Peering through bottle-bottom glasses over a huge setaceous moustache, he arrived back from a night on the tales. Swaying from side to side, he entered carrying a workman’s red lamp, used to denote a hole in the road: “Look what some damn fool’s left by th’ roadside!” he would exclaim, before toppling over. Capturing the misguided flailings of a drunkard’s lack of control over their own body actually requires precise body control, and Randle’s drunk sketches, like Chaplin’s, allowed him to draw on his acrobatic skills. ‘At The Bar’, captured on film in 1940’s ‘SOMEWHERE IN ENGLAND’, is a beautiful two minutes of body control and dialogue.
Randle arrives at the bar as a well-to-do chap is chatting to the barmaid. His difficulties in breaking in to their conversation to be served are compounded by his physical difficulties in locating the foot-rail and his increasing confusion with what he is ordering. As time goes on, his repeated request for two ales becomes muddled in with their conversation, in an amusing mixture of verbal and physical incoherence:
This sketch was originally featured in the stage show ‘Randle’s Scandals’. The firebrand Randle, tired of run-ins with impresarios and censors, decided to form his own touring company, which would go strong for almost 20 years. He drew on a talented company of comedians, musicians and stooges, many of whom would go on to appear in his films. Notable among these were bald, banjo playing Ernie Dale and cadaverous, camp Gus Aubrey who appeared as a dame in many pantomimes with Randle.
The Scandals format was ideal for Randle’s comedy. It was freewheeling, he had control over his material, and could appear in numerous self-contained sketches ideal for make up changes. He was now at the top of his game, at least in the North of England, and the silver screen came calling… RANDLE’S FILMS Randle’s films are an odd bunch to be sure; even more than his stage work, they belong to an extremely specific time and place. No major London studio would have taken a chance on the unpolished Randle. Instead, his film debut arrived under the auspices of John E Blakeley’s Mancunian films. Blakeley, based in Manchester, was a remarkable entrepreneur who set up one of the first sound film companies outside the capital, and proceeded to make a series of unpretentious, ramshackle vehicles for the Northern comedians he loved. Blakeley’s biggest success had been introducing George Formby to cinema audiences in ‘BOOTS! BOOTS!’ (1934). Now he was ready to try again, engaging a number of Northern comics, including Randle, for ‘SOMEWHERE IN ENGLAND’. Mancunian films were totally aimed at their regional audiences, and were put together with love, if not always with bucketloads of cinematic technique.
The films were really not so far removed from the revue style of the ‘SCANDALS’ shows. Blakeley’s usual method was to hang together comic scenes with a bunch of comics, tag in a plotline with some appalling romantic leads, then climax with some kind of show-within-a-film as an excuse to show off the comic’s sketches, along with any other random guests Blakeley could hire. Thus, we get Randle sharing the bill with comic singers Gloria and Arnley, brass bands, and even classical pianists Ranawucz and Lauder! While this set up provides a neat continuity to the scandals shows, in other ways the films presented a different side to Randle’s work. On stage, he was king of monologue and sketch, portraying characters carefully drawn. On film, he was rarely given chance to follow such characterizations, only using them for fleeting moments, usually as part of the sketch-within- a-show-within a film format. As a result, his films are in some ways a lost opportunity; certainly, his admirers were sometimes disappointed in them, and it’s a shame he never got to follow one of his characterisations to a greater degree. Randle appears in more natural make up, usually under his own name; this has led to many assuming he plays “himself”. More realistically, his character is an amalgam of his stage characters with an enlarged, grotesque version of himself – the mood swings, crudity, disrespect for authority and fondness for a tipple are all there, but of course are exaggerated for comic effect. A parallel might be made to W C Fields’ character which enlarged his dipsomaniac, misogynistic characteristics to make him the glorious caricature he was. The biggest problem with these films, as with most British comedies of the time, is that they should never have been feature length. There are great sketches and scenes, but the budget and talent are severely stretched over 80 or 90 minutes. Nevertheless, the films have great energy and are a valuable record of many performers. Many moments in the films present Randle’s anarchic spirit at its most undiluted, and in age where it is much easier to pick and choose the scenes we want to view, they do have much to recommend them. Many have sniggered at the home made quality of the Mancunian films, but like Randle, they are remarkable for the fiery, have-a-go independence in an upper-class, London-centric industry. Besides, many performers like Randle, would have slipped totally from memory without them!
On the basis of his films, we can see how the Randle’s manic tendencies exhibit themselves not just in real-life libertine behaviour, but through the vibrant energy of his performance. Eccentricities, flailing limbs and gibbering malapropisms provide the perfect outlet for his own peculiar brand of comic madness. Frank Randle on film is, like his real self, torn between happy-go-lucky excitement, anti-authority behaviour and Stooge-like violent slapstick, even within the same line of dialogue! He will bounce around like a sprite on the first day of his holidays, or approaching a pretty girl; he will put on a fancy accent to seem respectable; when spurned or foiled his big toothless grin magnificently double takes into an angry crescent moon. Comic incoherence remains a theme whatever his mood. This may be down to excitement, as when visiting his new born baby: When angry, the incoherence reveals itself in similar ways, in a stream of Dogberryisms and insults. Sometimes, he is wilfully random, interrupting dialogue with an Army major with the random comment, “Here, I’ll draw yer a chicken, sir!” for no apparent reason! His inability to articulate himself is only heightened by the lack of his teeth, which renders his already thick Lancashire accent into a slushy mess of consonants. The result is a performance that can be baffling for those The perfect situation for this pulsating bundle of polarity was to put him into a situation requiring discipline and consistency – the army. Randle’s best remembered films today are his initial efforts for Mancunian, a series of films feature him in this setting, beginning with SOMEWHERE IN ENGLAND (1940).
This films also features Northern comics Harry Korris, Robbie ‘Enoch’ Vincent and Dan Young (see sidebar for more information), and sets the stall for the films that followed.
SOMEWHERE IN ENGLAND begins by introducing us to Randle and co as your typical awkward squad. Enoch is slow-witted, Young (‘the dude comedian’) monocled and highly strung, Randle insolent and incompetent. Rotund, sad-sack Korris is the long-suffering sergeant with a nice Hardyesque line in fallen dignity, frequently uttering his catchphrase, “Eeeee…if ever a sergeant suffered!” if ever a sergeanat suffered!”
A typical exchange:
KORRIS: What were you in Civilian life?
RANDLE: (with toothless smile) A dentist!
KORRIS: You look it! A fat lot of good you’ll be in the army with no teeth!
RANDLE: I thought I had to shoot Germans, not chew ‘em!
ENOCH: Let – me – tell – you…
KORRIS: I’m not talking to you, Unconscious! How do you think I became a sergeant?
KORRIS: No, bribery!
The last line offers a clue to another facet of his character. Put-upon he may be, but he can give as good as he gets, doling out Kp duties to his love rivals, bribing the men to take them off duty if they buy him pints, or calling cigarette breaks for the troops when he fancies pinching one! It’s a seedy line of authority not far removed from that of the great Will Hay.
These sketches with their comic give-and-take are classic music hall material and great fun. The number of performers involved saves them from becoming monotonous like many double act crosstalk routines. Certainly, they must have provided some inspiration for the parade scenes in DAD’S ARMY, which draw upon a similarly rag bag bunch of recruits. Truthfully, Korris and Vincent are both somewhat bound to awkward radio delivery of their lines, but Young is really rather good. Randle is a natural fool, always acting some piece of business to steal attention away from others. The effect of these squad scenes is almost reminiscent of ‘THE ROUNDERS’ and other Keystones, with a half-dozen performers all vying for the comic spotlight as a single camera struggles to capture all the madness. The sloppy editing sometimes results in Randle’s compulsive ad-libs being cut off mid-shot. One gets the sense that he was impossible to rehearse with!
As well as the squad scenes, Randle always has some opportunities to push his edgy side when insulting the upper-class, commissioned officers and their ladies. Asked if he can jitterbug, he replies “Ah’m a reet jitter-bugger.” Most outrageous is his scene discussing his newly born twins with his commanding officer:
OFFICER: I’d like to give you something. Here’s five pounds.
RANDLE: Thank you, sir. And I’d like to give you something in return, sir.
OFFICER: What’s that?
RANDLE (sticking two fingers up at officer): The Twins, sir!
No wonder Randle was loved by the working classes! Still, it remains remarkable both that such moments should slip through the censors, and, more so, that films were being made in wartime England showing the armed forces to be so incompetent!
More conventionally, there are also some more broad slapstick scenes inserted. The slapstick is sloppy and very, very messy, but saved from mediocrity by the complete vigour it is put over with. Randle slapstick has less in common with methodical L & H slapstick than the random, devilish chaos caused by Harpo Marx. The routines may begin in accidental damage, but quickly escalate into random, wilful destruction.
In SOMEWHERE IN CAMP, there is a trip to a vicious dentist reminiscent of Laurel and Hardy’s PARDON US, which ends with him running around the dentist’s surgery trying out all the dentures. We also witness his attempts to clean a billiard table unsuccessfully, with him stood on top, smashing beer glasses on to it and sweeping the whole soggy, jagged mess on to the floor, then flinging billiard balls at passers-by!
SOMEWHERE ON LEAVE has a savagely funny scene involving moving a piano. ‘THE MUSIC BOX’, this isn’t, though. Randle, lapsing into his posh voice, can’t resist tickling the ivories. “I will now play a Pizzicato arrangement,” he says, before proceeding to hammer blue murder out of the keys, pulling them out as they meet his displeasure. Private Enoch arrives with a bucket of water to wash the piano, which gets poured in the lid. This leads to some split second –timed rough slapstick with the piano lid, which culminates in it being ripped off. Randle’s solution is to hammer the lid back down, tap dancing on top to ensure the job is comple. “It sounds better with th’lid fast anyway” he concludes!
Occasionally, there are some surprises in the visual comedy. In ‘SOMEWHERE ON LEAVE’, he is ordered to attend a commando training course and is put through physical jerks. From predictable slapstick, this blossoms into something quite magnificent as he shows his old acrobatic skills on the trampoline in some very funny manoeuvres synchronised to music. For two whole minutes, the film transcends it’s ragbag nature and is quite, quite wonderful.
Less wonderfully, the ‘SOMEWHERE’ films mix in some tedious subplots into the mishmash, usually a pair of star-crossed juvenile leads whose precocious stage-school accents and naïve technique render them hopeless next to Randle and co. Don’t lose any sleep over their troubles, though; they always make it up in time to embrace awkwardly at the end, to say nothing of singing at the camp concert!
Much more interesting are the turns presented in these concerts. In SOMEWHERE IN ENGLAND, Randle’s hiker sketch is preserved for posterity. SOMEWHERE ON LEAVE sees him in the same make up for the sketch ‘PUTTING UP THE BANNS’. Korris and Young make great foils as a vicar and Randle’s intended bride (!) respectively, as the randy old hiker prepares to get married.
KORRIS: I see you have been married four times before, Mr Clutterbuck.
RANDLE: Aye. If the Lord keeps providin’ em, I’ll keep buryin’ em!
The trilogy of Mancunian SOMEWHERE’ films were followed by ‘SOMEWHERE IN CIVVIES’. This was actually unconnected to the original franchise, save for Randle’s involvement, but was given a similar title to cash in on the success of the films. Virtually indistinguishable from the earlier efforts, SOMEWHERE IN CIVVIES is probably the best of this bunch of films, including the best entrance for Frank. Arriving on parade atop a regimental mascot donkey, he is confronted by the Sgt: SGT: what do you think you’re doing? RANDLE: I’m sat on me ass! CIVVIES replaces Korris et al with an excellent cast of other actors: pompous walrus H F Maltby, conniving Joss Ambler, and several members of Randle’s own ‘SCANDALS’ company. Gus Aubrey was one of Randle’s closest partners, his effete delicacy providing a great contrast to Randle’s firebrand crudity. Often a pantomime dame in his shows, in CIVVIES he is Randle’s sidekick as the pair try to set up a painting and decorating business. ‘SOMEWHERE’ films present Randle’s purest comic mayhem, the loose nature of awkward squad army comedy and the gang show providing an ideal formula for him to shoehorn in as many bits and routines as possible. The authority and discipline of army life are also a feat foil for his contrarian, untameable persona. When peacetime came, his films placed him in a more domestic idiom, epitomised by the title of his first post-war film, ‘HOME SWEET HOME’ . With this, the films entered even more into the regional world of their audience, the world of the two-up, two-down terrace house, the factory job and the seaside holiday. This works somewhat less well for his persona, as Randle needs some form of rigorous discipline to be his most effective, especially to a wider audience. That said, ‘Two-Tonne’ Tessie O’Shea made a formidable comic spouse for Randle in ‘HOLIDAYS WITH PAY’ and the now missing ‘SOMEWHERE IN POLITICS’.
Despite the shift in setting, there wasn’t much variety in the Blakeley formula. The mixture of comic setpieces, juvenile leads no-one cares about, and a concert climax featuring all sorts of moonlighting variety acts remains constant. The only other film Randle made away from Blakeley was the only one to really vary this formula. WHEN YOU COME HOME (1948) exploits the pathos and acting potential of Randle’s characters to an extent never seen before. Framed by his ‘Grandpa’s Birthday’ sketch, it takes place in flashback to the era of the Victorian Music Halls, with the old man recalling his youth (acted by Frank). There is a more sustained storyline, and a much more relaxed tone overall, melancholic and nostalgic. This extends to Randle the underdog, a much more down-to-earth, crumpled George Formby-type character in this instance. He does a credible job of acting the part, but is undeniably constrained, and the pathos does seem a little forced. This is probably his best-crafted film, but far from his funniest or most representative. In one aspect, though, the Blakeley formula remains. ‘WHEN YOU COME HOME’ was directed by John Baxter, a devotee of music hall acts, resulting an other chance to show off a collection of other acts, including The Two Leslies. The most intriguing part of WHEN YOU COME HOME is a scene ultimately cut from the film, but released as a separate short. Here, Randle acts as Grandpa again, but at work in a cobbler’s shop. This scene, more wistful with lightly amusing moments, shows what he could have been capable of as a character actor in better vehicles.
The schizophrenic nature of Randle’s talents reveals itself not just in his screen work but in tales of his real life personality. Depending on who you ask, Randle was either charming and gentlemanly, or a complete holy terror. Many of the tales of his rages are verifiable; he was known on more than one occasion to threaten co-stars or theatre workers with physical violence. At other times, a missed line in a sketch would cause him to unleash a verbal tirade of blue language, at least once or twice on stage. Most famously, he planned to charter an aeroplane to bomb the town of Accrington with toilet rolls, after audiences had been unappreciative. And yet, many found him a gracious performer who was sweet and kind to child stars and acts further down the bill. His contradictions became the source of some very strange theatrical superstition…
“They all said he was moon mad because once in a while he’d just go potty and disappear, ” recalled Roy Castle. Bob Monkhouse also expressed the opinion that “Randle was a genius but very definitely wired to the moon!” The theories of Randle’s lunar influence were so widespread amongst the interviewees of Philip and David Williams’ biography of the comic that they named their book ‘WIRED TO THE MOON’. Certainly, Randle’s behaviour was contradictory and often downright bizarre, but many traits of this “moon madness” could have, more objectively, been rooted in schizophrenia or Bipolar disorder. His heavy drinking, illnesses and unhappiness would only have exacerbated this. Certainly, he was not in good mental health, and in an age when this was less well understood as an illness, the moon provided a convenient diversion from the real issue. In his later years, his alcoholism and bizarre behaviour increased, the demons only amplified by another struggle. Randle was dying of tuberculosis. As the 1950s dawned, Randle’s slide was just about to begin. There was still time for one more go-round with Mancunian Films, but it was necessary for him to put up much of the money for the film personally. ‘ ITS A GRAND LIFE’ returns him, one last time, to the army. All the old army schtick is present, including Dan Young. So too, more than a bit incongruously, is ‘blonde bombshell’ Diana Dors! The presence of Dors is Blakeley’s concession to the advancing modernity of the 50s. This, and the film’s slicker productions pay lip service to changing times, but it still seems a hugely antiquated film for the atomic age. The presence of Dors serves to only make Randle ‘s humour seem more obsolete; with sex so openly on a plate, his innuendos and disregard for stiff society now seem a little more ‘safe’. ‘ITS A GRAND LIF’ marks a step toward the transfer from danger to cosy innuendo in comedy most marked in the CARRY ON franchise. This sort of comedy was content to titter in the corner, while social taboos moved more toward politics, and were left to the younger generations. It’s inconceivable, for instance, to think that ‘IT’S A GRAND LIFE’ was made only 6 years before ‘BEYOND THE FRINGE’! Audiences agreed, and by the mid-50s Randle’s career began to slip. In his last couple of years, though he still worked, his bookings became less prestigious and less regular. He soldiered on far longer than he probably ought to, professing a wish “to die in harness, like Tommy Handley.” He more or less did so. His last appearance was in May 1957, in the small town of Crewe; Not two months later, he was dead. Ironically, the man who had so carefully crafted elderly characters was not even to make it to retirement age.
Randle’s life is yet another of those tortured comic beings whose demons both drove them and held them back from achieving full potential. Even his epitaph, which he chose himself, referenced his inner, self-sabotaging conflict: Despite myself, my prayers were answered. I was, amongst all men, richly blessed. And now, he seems almost like some bizarre Pterodactyl fossil, a strange looking, archaic creature that it is hard to believe ever seriously walked the earth. In the 60-odd years since his heyday, social convention, entertainment and cinematic technique render him a hopeless relic. Or do they? There is much about Randle that is timeless, unique and fascinating. He drew careful, if broad, character profiles, and, like Spike Milligan after him, was able to will his demons to create a comic mania that one must admire for it’s sheer gusto. He played his own rules in maintaining his independent maverick status, and played a key role in developing the regional film industry in the UK. It’s worth giving Frank Randle’s films a chance, or at least excerpts of them. Even if you don’t take to him, there’s something captivating in his madness, a very unique comic talent. Or maybe that’s just the full moon talking…