It would be easy to suggest that comedy is the new rock and roll. But it isn’t. Yet, to see the shocking wardrobe of some stand ups of the day you’d be forgiven for thinking that they were part of some ‘rock combo’. But some comedic types have tried a little harder in their dress and their consequent sartorial swagger has become at least as sharp as their wit. What follows is a celebration of some of those unexpected, funny fashion icons.
People think the notion of surreal comedy is somewhat modern. I suggest you scour YouTube for the likes of Ernie Kovacs, Max Wall and the estimable Lord Buckley. His combination of hipster slang, beat poetry and scat singing was totally unique and an influence on Bob Dylan and George Harrison. And his look was truly refined. Well he was a lord for goodness sake. Waxed moustache, neatly pressed tuxedo and the occasional pith helmet, he wouldn’t look out of place in Dalston.
Though often completely disguised by weird outfits or ridiculous drag during his tenure on The Two Ronnies and sitcoms like Sorry, when Ronnie C was allowed to be himself he let his fashion flag fly. I guess Ronnie’s look could be described as ‘golf casual’ with Lyle & Scott sweaters, hefty collared shirt and slacks in a variety of eye-blistering hues.
Unless he was in a toga, Frankie was always in a suit. While most of the audience were probably fixated on his slightly askew rug, they never noticed the snappiness of his whistle. It was never anything too flashy; muted colours, white or plain coloured shirt, a tie without a pattern or design. He certainly wasn’t Max Miller. But he was stylish in his own inimitable way.
I’m thinking of the stand-up era Steve Martin, where he donned the white suit, popped a fake arrow on his head and made balloon animals in front of stadium crowds. His incredibly goofy act won people over via the vehicle of sheer joyfulness. He was a complete clown, but dressed like a maitre d’ at a high class fish restaurant, monochrome three-piece with black accessories. Classy.
Not only an incredible satirist and stand-up, but one of the finest human beings on the planet, being an advocate for civil rights, feminism, vegetarianism and a plethora of other social issues. He’s also a sharp looking fellow, especially in the sixties with a breathtaking array of mod style sharkskin suits and beautiful double-breasted numbers – a true inspiration.