Mick and Tommy

Mick Miller is a comic who in the 70’s became a household name here in the UK on a TV show called The Comedians.  We are performing together on this Atlantic crossing of the P&O cruise liner the Ventura.  Both of his shows were just fabulous – a stream of original one-liners delivered by a master.

After his first show I quizzed him about all of the old comics and especially the magicians that he has worked with in his career.  He told me a great Tommy Cooper story.

For you yanks, Tommy Cooper was a British comedian/magician that many in this country still consider to be one of the funniest UK comics ever.  He was a big, 6 foot 3 and built like an out of shape heavyweight.  In keeping with the boxing analogy, he performed his magic tricks like he was wearing boxing gloves.  Everything went wrong and the worse it got the funnier he was.  He was also a legendary drinker and famous for never giving anyone who spoke to him, in the real world, a straight answer.  One of his favourite gags was to serendipitously slip a tip into a cab driver’s hand and say, “Have a drink on me.”  When the cabbie would look at what Tommy had given him, he would see that he was holding a teabag.

Mick told a lovely story about Tommy driving himself to a gig at the London Palladium.  Never one to spend money on a car, his clapped out Austin 1100 died in the middle of the road not far from the theatre.  Behind him a very posh Bentley hooted at him.  Tommy tried and tried but he couldn’t get his car going.  All the while the Bentley hooted and hooted until finally Tommy got out of his car and knocked on the Bentley’s window.  The electric window (rare in those days) mechanically lowered and Tommy stuck most of his hulking body in to the poor guy’s car and started hooting his horn.  Tommy turned his head and said, “Tell you what, I’ll do this and you start that Austin.”

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