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Series / Canned Laughter

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Rowan Atkinson Presents Canned Laughter is a 1979 comedy special broadcast by ITV, and is noted by being the first professional work by Rowan Atkinson, who would later star on Not the Nine O'Clock News, Blackadder, Mr. Bean and The Thin Blue Line.

The plot centers on Robert Box, a nebbish office boy (Atkinson) trying to get a date with Lorraine, a pretty co-worker (Sue Holderness), but Hilarity Ensues, as well as chaos when they have dinner that evening. The cast is rounded out by stand-up wannabe David Perry and Robert's vile boss, Mr. Marshall, both portrayed by Atkinson, too.


This work provides examples of

  • Adorkable: Robert
  • Bad Boss: Mr. Marshall. He refuses to raise his employees' salaries because of their propensity to smoke.
    "How can I think of giving money to a group of people so hell-bent towards self-destruction?"
  • Deadpan Snarker: David confronts a sarcastic bus conductor who ends up slicing a bit of his one-pound note.
  • Dinner Order Flub: Averted with Lorraine's order, which she fluently does in French. Robert only asks for the "soup and the beef".
  • Disco: The song playing on the radio at the beginning.
  • Downer Ending: At the end, Lorraine has had enough of Robert's antics and leaves the restaurant. And David Perry's act doesn't get off the ground, if there was any.
  • Gratuitous French: Lorraine was apparently raised in France, as her father was stationed there.
  • Lounge Lizard: David Perry
  • Advertisement:
  • Shout-Out: David greets the audience with the words "Nice to see you, to see you nice", a catchphrase of Bruce Forsyth. Unfortunately for him, only Robert answers him.
  • Stand-Up Comedy: David Perry excels in this, or that's what he thinks at least.
  • Tacky Tuxedo: Dave's tux is an over-the-top parody of the styles used back in the late 1970s, only a few months before these became Deader Than Disco.


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