Theatre / Beyond the Fringe
Stage revue show written by and (originally) starring two Cambridge grads, Peter Cook
and Jonathan Miller and two Oxford grads, Dudley Moore
and Alan Bennett
. Debuted at the Edinburgh Festival in the Summer of 1960 and later enjoyed long runs in the West End and Broadway. Considered the Pet Sounds
to the Monty Python
's Sgt. Pepper
(interestingly a sample
from a recording of the show was used on the Sgt. Pepper album) and the emergence of the modern British Comedy movement of the 1960s
Beyond The Fringe provides examples of:
- After the End: In "Civil War", a heckler (Moore) asks when public transport services will resume following a nuclear holocaust. (As soon as possible, but it will be a skeleton service.)
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: "Die Flabbergast" and "The Weill Song", both parody/pastiche songs (of Schubert and Weill respectively) in mock-German.
- Black Comedy: In a parody of post-war British WW2 films, Peter Cook as a senior RAF officer orders Jonathan Miller to go on what amounts to a suicide mission, because the war isn't going too well and "we need a futile gesture at this point":
Cook: I want you get into a plane —
Cook: Pop over to Bremen —
Cook: Take a shufti —note
Cook: Don't come back. ...Goodbye, Perkins.
Cook: [Beat] No, Perkins.
- The British Invasion: made its US debut a good two years before The Beatles jumped the pond. Also made its US debut in Washington, DC with President Kennedy and his wife Jackie attending.
- Camp Gay: "Bollard" features three of them, having a discussion before adopting butch personas for a cigarette advertisement.
- Dream-Crushing Handicap: Played for laughs (of course) in the "One Leg Too Few" sketch with the one-legged man auditioning for the role of Tarzan.
- Early Installment Weirdness: There's CD available recorded during the pre-West End tour when they were still knocking the material into shape. It's very strange to hear some of the sketches still lacking their most famous lines.
- The End Is Nigh: the closing sketch features a doomsday cult waiting for the end of the world. It doesn't come.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: They got the parody of Prime Minister Harold MacMillan past the censor by simply not naming him in the script. Once Peter Cook put on the voice, everybody got it.
- Informed Judaism: Played straight in "Real Class":
Alan Bennett: Well, I...I suppose we are working-class. But, eh...I wonder how many of these people have realised that Jonathan Miller's a Jew?
Dudley Moore: I suppose he gets away with it because of his ginger hair, actually.
Alan Bennett: I'd rather be working-class than be a Jew.
Dudley Moore: Oh, anyday. But think of the awful situation if you were...working-class, and a Jew?
Alan Bennett: There's always somebody worse off than yourself.
Jonathan Miller: In fact, I'm not really a Jew. Just Jew-ish. Not the whole hog, you know.
- Literal-Minded / Mathematician's Answer: The policeman in "The Great Train Robbery".
- Musical Pastiche: All of Dudley Moore's piano solos are this, the targets being Schubert, Benjamin Britten, Beethoven and (in the 1964 update) Kurt Weill.
- Non-Indicative Title: the sketch "The Heat Death of the Universe" is actually a whimsical monologue about trousers and nothing whatsoever to do with entropy.
- Overly Long Gag: the coda of Dudley Moore's piano solo "And The Same To You" (basically, the "Colonel Bogey March" is the style of Beethoven, with Ending Fatigue played for laughs) is a classic example. Peter Cook's "Sitting on the Bench" monologue sometimes got into this too: "Oh look, a lump of coal!".
- Pastiche: of war movies, Shakespeare, and religious TV shows.
- Rule of Three: "Aftermyth of War" has Peter Cook's suburban gardener character pop up three times and deliver variations of the same speech each time.
- Satire: it was credited with starting a "satire boom".
- Saw "Star Wars" 27 Times: One sketch is about a man in the audience who has been to see the show nearly 500 times, because he'd heard a rumour that members of the royal family were going to attend...some day.
- Shout-Out to Shakespeare: "So That's The Way You Like It" is a spectacular round-up of all the most notorious clichés.
- Sketch Comedy
- Spoonerism: As delivered by Miller's vicar: "The apostles of old were rough, toothless... er, tough, ruthless..."
- Stiff Upper Lip: "Aftermyth of War" parodies the use of this tropes in war films.
- Title Confusion: Most references to the show assume it debuted on the Edinburgh Fringe. In fact, it was part of the main Arts Festival and the title (a minor bit of Executive Meddling) was intended to imply it went beyond what the Fringe was capable of.
- The Vicar: a traditional one portrayed by Alan Bennett and a modernising one played by Jonathan Miller.