"Happiness and Tear" - The Ken Dodd Story
Just finished reading this thick tome of 382 pages, although I can't remember reading a book that had so much, in the author's words "Doddology", at nearly 150 pages, which made the biog only 236 pages plus Introduction. Not that I'm complaining as most of the Doddology was a list of literally everything he ever appeared in from 16th April 1957. What an incredible bit of research!
HOWEVER, the list of his stage work finishes at 1960, which is odd and so no mention of the time I went to see him in 2009 (absolutely superb!!). You would have thought the later work would have been easier to research.
Anyway, the two things that stuck out for me, were 1/. His financial meanness, in particular how he treated Eddie Braben after his career took off. Ken not only was paid more money of course, but he also controlled to script writing fee, of which Eddie saw no more than previous (hence the split and Eddie doing the same, so to speak, for M&W, thank God! ) So, it was meant to be! Yes, Eddie Braben was treated shabbily by Ken Dodd.
He wasn't mean with advice though, and many up-and-coming comedians benefited from Ken's advice. He would go out of his way to see a new comedian, make notes, and show them how to improve their act.
And 2/., how he was a VERY lucky man to get away with his tax court case, seemingly brought about by his hiring of the finest barrister at the time, to the tune of £250,000 (Gulp!). Still, had the tax man won, he would not only have had far more liabilities (eventually settled at £1,000,000), but almost certainly a prison sentence, which is what happened to the disgraced Lester Piggott** in a very similar case, and which worried Doddy enormously. You could say he wasn't lucky, having paid for a very expensive barrister, BUT it could have so easily gone the other way.
Ken played it as being very naïve and a financial idiot, but he knew what he was doing, borne out by the large stashes of cash he had here and there, and the many bank accounts. Yes, a very lucky man.
** Piggott was created an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1975, but the honour was withdrawn after he received a three-year prison term in 1987 for income tax evasion. He served about one year and was released in 1988.
But despite all that, there is no doubt he was one of the finest stand-up comedians ever, and I'm so glad I saw him live - it was an absolute treat. So I didn't have to worry about parking near the theatre, my wife dropped me off and I was to ring her to pick me up. I rang her at 10.30pm. and she said OK, now coming; but I had to tell her that I was only ringing her to say it was the interval and the show was likely to run to midnight.
As comedian Gary Delaney quipped - Ken's funeral would be held on "Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and most of Saturday".