An individual exhibiting such uniqueness or individuality that he or she will cause a roomful of bar cronies to exclaim, "That's one interesting motherfucker!" Actual sexual relations with one's mother are not required.
In a recent poll of British television viewers Spike Milligan was voted "The Funniest Person of the Millennium", yet here in America Spike is so unknown that he probably wouldn't be voted "The Funniest Person Of The Milligans". Eddie Izzard even declared Spike Milligan "The Godfather of Alternative Comedy." Although Izzy was absolutely the coolest guy in Guns N' Roses, Spike Milligan is too funny to be blamed for that wussy "Alternative Comedy" jazz. As anyone who has been scammed into buying an Evan Dando CD has already learned the hard way, anything called "Alternative" is shit - No, it's not substantial enough for us to call it that - Anything called "Alternative" is just methane gas. Light a match at a Margaret Cho performance and watch her go up in flames!
But what you can definitely call Spike Milligan is "The Master Of Crazy Comedy", that All Out Psychotic School Of Humor pioneered by the Marx Brothers and Warner Brothers Looney Tunes cartoons before Spike brought it to BBC Radio with "The Goon Show" in the fifties. "The Goon Show" (Originally called "Crazy People", a terrible title but still one hell of a lot better than "Vanilla Sky", what the crap is that supposed to mean?) is always credited as the inspiration for "Monty Python's Flying Circus" but, aside from Monty Python, Mel Brook's "Blazing Saddles, and "Airplane", the American public doesn't seem to have a lot of patience for Crazy Comedy, especially after having Robin Williams stuffed down our throats. Americans like really blunt "Fuck You" comedy like Howard Stern and Eddie Murphy. Try getting up and doing material styled on Spike Milligan in a New Jersey comedy club full of beer swilling All American Joes and . . . and . . . (Saleeby has a stand up comedy flashback to the late eighties, wets his pants, and runs into the night screaming "LAWD HAVE MUSSY!!" Why couldn't our boy has been exposed to Rodney Dangerfield at an earlier age?) So I guess that explains where "Alternative Comedy" came from - But couldn't we blame it all on that creepy Jonathan Winters instead of Spike Milligan? Spike was born 1918 in India where his Irish father was a soldier in the Royal Army and Spike spent the first sixteen years of his life there. (Spike is so old there were four more "sixteen years" after that first "sixteen years" and a bit more of another one going on right now.) India is a very strange and exotic place for an Irishman to spend his first sixteen years but, if Spike thought he was out of place there, he must have thought he had died and gone to Irish Hell when his Father retired from the Army and moved the family to London. Until the Second World War broke out, Spike played trumpet in several swing jazz bands. Please bear in mind that we are talking about an Irishman in England so maybe something positive came out of that Third Reich business after all.
Like all great comedians, Spike Milligan's humor was born of great personal adversity suffered during youth - Poverty, loneliness, illness, or - In Spike's case - getting "blown up". Oh yeah, Charlie Chaplin's mother was locked up in Bedlam when he was a little boy and Richard Pryor grew up in a whorehouse, but when were they ever "blown up?" Johnny Carson was never "blown up", Jackie Gleason was never "blown up", I wrote up a list of current comedians who should be "blown up" before the FBI got suspicious about all the fertilizer I was stockpiling and confiscated my Jon Stewart Voodoo Doll. How was Spike "blown up"? Well, as in most getting "blown up" stories, the witnesses were too busy running for cover and screaming bloody murder to provide an accurate account, but what we do know is this - While serving as a Gunner in the British Army during the Second World War he was "blown up" one day in Italy. According to some accounts he was "blown up" by a mortar, according to others he was "blown up" by one of the German Army's notorious Eighty Eight millimeter anti tank guns. All we know for certain is that Poor Spike was "blown up" and it was the formative experience of his life. What was the formative experience of YOUR life? Seeing The Dave Mathew's Band in your freshman year while on acid? I bet you never even tried to play a trumpet! Kids today!
Once he recovered from his injuries Spike was issued an official Royal Army Trumpet and sent off to entertain the troops. An entire generation of British comedians got their start while serving in the military during the war (In the American military that damn Bob Hope was hogging up too much overseas stage time for any of our Funny Men In Uniform to get on, so Mel Brooks was nearly killed in the Battle Of The Bulge while Lenny Bruce had to pretend to be a homosexual to get out of the Navy - Really! Hey, he was never MY hero!) and while clowning around to save civilization Spike met future "Goon Show" co stars Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe. Sellers was in the RAF where he spent most of his time doing Peter Sellers stuff like stealing an Indian officer's uniform which he wore with a fake beard and turban to wander around pretending to be a krazy kooky Hindu Man O' War. Secombe had already met Spike on the field of battle in North Africa when Milligan's unit had brilliantly allowed a one and a half ton artillery piece to fall off of a cliff and on top of Secobe's outfit encamped below. There was a tremendous "One And A Half Ton Artillery Piece Falling Off Of A Cliff" uproar and calm was only restored when Gunner Milligan strolled up to Secombe and his squabbling comrades to cheerfully inquire "Anyone seen a gun?" Who needs an Indian officer's uniform, a fake beard, and a turban to be funny when you've got a one and a half ton artillery piece you can drop on people?
The war finally ended (Hitler lost but Communism still . . . Oh, I'll save that for when I write an Interesting Motherfuckers about Tail Gunner Joe McCarthy) and everybody went back to England to do "The Goon Show" which made Peter Sellers an international star, Harry Secombe one of those irritating British comedians that make you really grateful to have been born on the funky side of the Atlantic, and Spike Milligan a nervous wreck. Spike was still suffering from post "blown up" trauma and having to write the scripts for "The Goon Show" all by himself. It drove him so crazy that at one point he tried to kill Peter Sellers. (Sellers has since died anyway so nobody holds that against Spike. Secombe is also dead but since Spike never tried to kill him he doesn't get any credit for it.) It was found that Spike was suffering from Manic Depression. Was this condition brought on by getting "blown up" by the Germans? I've got Manic Depression and I've never been "blown up" by no Germans . . . Not yet, anyway. (Saleeby looks down to make sure he is not wearing a World War Two British Gunner's uniform. No, thank God! Hey, where did my one and a half ton artillery piece go?) There is no describing "The Goon Show" on paper, if that was possible someone might have been able to help Spike write the damn thing. The show was initially inspired by cartoon adventures of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck only, since it was on the radio, Milligan was forced to substitute all that color and motion with a mind ripping "Tora! Tora! Tora!" of sound effects, insane chatter, and Englishmen still trying to playing that goddamn swing jazz music. As funny and crazy as Monty Python was, it was still as conventional a BBC comedy show as "Benny Hill" or "the Two Ronnies" compared to The Goons. If you have never heard "The Goon Show" before and this article moves you to give it a listen (And if you're still under the spell of my Manson like hypnotic powers - Believe in Jesus, listen to your parents, and send me cash), you will probably be as bewildered as your grandparents were when your old Dad first came home with a Jimi Hendrix album. But listen to a couple of episodes long enough for your ears to stop hiding behind the sofa and come back out to reattach themselves to the side of your head and you will soon be carrying on like a Martin Lawrence fan watching a dog pee on a fire hydrant. The closest anyone has ever come to duplicating the astounding sound of "The Goon Show" would be The Firesign Theater although, as funny as they are, The Firesign Theater are a bunch of old hippies with an old hippie political agenda. Be sure to listen to their albums, especially "Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers", but don't forget - believe in Jesus, listen to your parents, and send me lots and lots of cash.
"The Goon Show" is what everyone will talk about when Spike passes away - That and "What the hell was 'School Daze' supposed to be about?". He's also played Crazy Old Man characters in a million movies, including "Monty Python's Life Of Brian", "Mel Brook's History Of The World Part One", and "Steve Martin's I Just Want To Make Great Big Bambi Eyes At The Camera" and had numerous TV series Britisholios swear were great, but, remember, these are the same people who tried to sell us Blur, The Verve, and Radiohead. But, aside from "The Goon Show", it is on the printed page that his humor has made it's greatest impact. Spike's first novel, "Puckoon", is the funniest book I have ever read in my life (and that includes "Valley of the Dolls"!) - As they useta say in Creem, "A certified good 'un, y'know?". "This book made me shit my pants." - Gore Vidal.
And get a load of this, Mister Milligan is also one of the world's most renowned poets! I mean, at least somebody out there is actually reading his poems, that puts him a million miles ahead of all those other losers stomping around with their coffee stained notebooks and pathetic delusions of publication. At least Spike has gotten "blown up" for his country, the most that will ever happen to those dopes is getting "blown off" by a bunch of editors until they finally wise up and start writing for totally nowhere web sites like Acid . . . Oh dear, I have gone too far.
To compensate for all that poetry writing Spike has also written a series of books about his two fisted tough guy exploits in the British Army during the war. "Hitler: My Part in His Downfall", "Rommel? Gunner Who?", "Monty: My Part in His Victory", and about eight hundred more are all terrifically funny and will provide all you two fisted tough guy military history buffs with insights into two fisted tough guy British Army life GALORE! Uh oh, maybe I blew it with you two fisted tough guy Acid Logic readers with that "GALORE!". But, anyway, if Tom Brokaw read these books he'd say "Spike Milligan Is The Funniest Man Of The Greatest Generation" and Spike would push him into a swimming pool.
Most recently Spike has been knocking out books like "Treasure Island According to Spike Milligan", "Wuthering Heights According to Spike Milligan", and "Lady Chatterly's Lover According to Spike Milligan" for the eleven people in the world who have read "Treasure Island", "Wuthering Heights", and "Lady Chatterly's Lover" and have enough of a sense of humor to laugh at Spike's silly jokes about them. By the way, I'm right in the middle of "Puckoon According to Gore Vidal" and it stinks! But the BIG NEWS for all us Spike Fans this year was when Our Hero was actually knighted by the Goddamn Queen Her Own Bad Seff last New Year's Eve! As a matter of fact, Spike and Prince Charles are good buddies, which is a little depressing - But at least Spike is still enough of an Irishman to have sparked off a genuine Sex Pistols media scandal when he called His Princiness a "groveling little bastard" while accepting the British Comedy Award For Lifetime Achievement on live television.
Today Sir Spike is a cranky old geezer who lives in a modest home in the suburbs where he spends his days ranting against a new world of comedy to which, no matter what we would like to think, he is all too aware of his irrelevance - "There is no comedy anymore. Only appalling unfunny Americans. . . Those American sit coms are all crap." Gosh, doesn't the BBC carry "The World According to Jim"? Spike has also turned into quite a preachy environmentalist, vegetarian, and - Just to keep you sensitive Al Gore types from thinking he is Your Kind Of Guy - vocal opponent of interracial dating, marriage, and breeding. "The moment you have a black child, that is the end of your white line. The end of it! Centuries of continuity cut off like that!" And if you found that offensive just be glad his equally horrible statements on environmentalism and vegetarianism are too offensive for even this article - Hey, at least racists are unintentionally funny. But give the guy a break - He was born in 1918! The British didn't even know about black people until Little Richard went over there.
Spike has too much time on his hands - At least Jerry Lewis gets to do a telethon once a year. Do they have Labor Day in England? I bet with Tony Blair in charge every day is Labor Day. Can't the BBC hook up Spike with an annual telethon to combat Manic Depression or Miscegenation or Poetry? C'mon, England! You already let Liz Hurley get knocked up, you don't have enough going for you to let a valuable resource like Spike Milligan go to waste - This Goon's For Hire!
I was going to say we ought to bring him to America but then I watched "Late Nite With Conan O'Brien" with a coupla guys I work with and from the way they reacted not only should Spike stay where he is but Conan had better pack up and get the hell over there, too. I was moving there myself until some British poll picked a friggin' U2 record as The Greatest Album Of All Time. Mon Dieu!
Editor's Note: Despite his vegetarian diet, Spike died in 2002.
wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand
up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines Schmuck.com,
Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication
now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier.
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