How tickled I was on 18th December 2011, I went to see Ken Dodd's Christmas Happiness Show in Wolverhampton. The show started at 7.00pm and ended at 12.30 AM which is quite normal for his performances! In fact I think we got let out early for good behaviour.
Kenneth Arthur Dodd was born in Knotty Ash, a village just outside Liverpool, on
November 8, 1927, to coal merchant Arthur Dodd and his wife Sarah. Ken
still lives in the same house in Knotty Ash today!
If I see you sneaking out i'll follow you home and shout jokes through your letterbox he warns us! But it is already half past midnight the moment has come and launches into a parting burst of one of his old hits, Absent Friends. It's shamelessly sentimental. And he does it brilliantly getting a standing ovation and there is the feeling that he could go on and on.
It's amazing to think that this guy is in his mid 80's has absolutely no intention of retiring - or even slowing down. Maybe the most amazing thing of all is there has not been one obscenity and a packed audience loved every minute. His late finishes were a constant them, illustrated when he produced his own thermos flask and sandwich box. Catching someone looking at their watch he said it's no good looking at your watch , its a calendar you need when you come and see me.
"She was a big girl," he reflects fondly of his first girlfriend. "You could tickle her all night and never touch the same spot." Impeccable timing and a constant bombardment of gags without stopping to pause.
He genuinely loves every minute on stage - "I'm stagestruck, always have been" - and cannot envisage life any other way. "Retirement is when a man stops doing what he doesn't want to do."
Part of Ken Dodd's act were The Diddy Men of Knotty Ash ('diddy' is northern England slang for 'little'). In fact, he created a whole community of these characters. The Diddy Men, including Mick the Marmalizer, Hamish McDiddy and Dicky Mint, all worked in places like the Broken Biscuit Repair Works, The Jam Butty Mines, The Treacle Wells and The Moggy Ranch, all in Knotty Ash. They wore colourful clothes and tall, furry hats and they even had thair own song! In his stage shows today, Ken Dodd uses a ventriloquist's puppet of as part of his act.
Ken Dodd had a good singing voice and regularly had songs like Love Is Like a Violin and Happiness in the charts. At one time in 1965, he had two songs in the same 'Top Ten'! Tears went straight it at No.1 with The River entering the charts at No.3. Tears sold over two million copies, gaining Doddy two gold disc awards. He is still Britain's only million-selling comedian.
In his furry red "moggy coat"
In 1967, Dodd entered the Guinness Book of Records for the 'Longest Joke-Telling' session, with 1,500 consecutive jokes told to a Liverpool audience, in three and a half hours. There were times when I had the feeling that Ken was going for a new world record as the jokes came thick and fast.
A Ken Dodd 'trade mark' is his feather duster or 'tickling stick'. In fact many of his catchphrases use the 'tickled' idea - as in 'How tickled I am'.