5 Sketches That Prove Hale and Pace Were Funny

 
Back in the late 80s, the promise, for me, of watching an episode of Hale and Pace was one that was charged with a certain frisson. After all, to a pre-pubescent squirt, Hale and Pace was packed full of the type of smut and silliness which defined not only our own age bracket, but plenty of adults who should have known better.

Therefore, it came as quite a surprise, in my later years, to discover that Hale and Pace was looked down upon as cheap, tacky nonsense. In fact, one particular comment on a forum which caught my eye stated that it was "Lazy, poorly-written, poorly-timed, poorly-constructed shite that builds toward a punchline that's straight out of Smut comic".

Harsh words indeed, but was it that terrible? Well, as with all sketch shows, they're a bit hit and miss, but surely you'd have to be carrying out some right terrible shenanigans with the television commissioners to rack up 10 series of non-stop, grubby bilge, right? The answer, in regards to whether they were awful (their backstage antics remain a mystery) is, in fact a resounding "NO!".

And here's 5 sketches that prove Hale and Pace were funny.

1. The Man Who Can't Take Anything Seriously

 

Perhaps I can relate to this sketch a little too much and perhaps it explains why my constant lack of maturity rubs people up the wrong way.

However, when this outlook on life is shone through the prism of a sketch show it becomes a fantastic example of why we need to stop being a bunch of old stiffs. And, in technical terms, it ratchets up the absurdity of the situation with increasingly exaggerated scenarios for Gareth Pale to keep the laughs coming one after the other.

2. Yorkshire Airlines

 

Hale and Pace frequently tackled the comedic potential of them Northerners of our fair British Isles, but it was perhaps best done in the Yorkshire Airlines sketch.

Acting more as a celebration of the indigenous flat cap wearing folk of Yorkshire than a series of catty barbs, it's a sketch which is peppered with fantastic touches. From the aggressively matter of fact air hostesses, through to Captain Boycott and the sophisticated 'Alan Bennett' class, the broad (yet hilarious) comic gems rain down before being crowned with a punchline which punctures regional pride and stubbornness.

3. Billy and Johnny Go Shopping in Soho

 

Along with 'The Management', Billy and Johnny were the best known recurring characters in Hale and Pace. Sure, it's a pretty straightforward excuse for easy juxtaposition, but, come on, it's bloody funny at times and what kind of a planet would it be without mindless japes?

Anyway, one of my favourite Billy and Johnny sketches sees their saccharine sweetness being contrasted with the seedy joys of Soho. It's packed full of smut, so certainly won't win round any critics of Hale and Pace, but it's the most innocent and rib tickling smut you can imagine. And whoever thought they'd live to see the day where Ainsley Harriot was larking about with a blow up doll?

4. Builders

 

Visual comedy is a difficult niche to pull off successfully, but when it's done right it can be a glorious celebration of the base mechanics behind comedy. And Hale and Pace pulled this off with some aplomb when tackling that national institution known as the Great British Builder.

Okay, it's just a series of visual gags rather than a condensed three act narrative of comedic elan, but they're charming little slices of glee which hint at some seriously creative writing. Again, it's a little mocking towards the building trade, but it's executed with such silliness that I doubt any brickies are going to be openly weeping.

5. Corridor Embarrassment

 

Awkward social encounters are an integral part of Britishness and the medium of sketch comedy is a perfect opportunity to underline this particular quirk.

And this Hale and Pace sketch captures the very essence of British awkwardness which everyone has experienced at least a couple of dozen hundred times. It even manages to capture the awkward 'time standing still' sensation despite being just over a minute long, but it's true beauty comes from an engaging nature forged in the relatibility of its core subject.

So, yeah, in conclusion, Gareth Hale and Norman Pace were a right funny pair of chaps, so let's celebrate them a bit more, okay?

CONVERSATION

21 comments:

  1. It became de rigueur to slam Hale and Pace. My own favourite is 'the double act that contained two straight men', but they were incredibly popular at the time.

    I think the backlash actually came about when they, rather foolishly, signed to the BBC in the late 90s. H&P@BBC remains, rightly, a much maligned, heavily criticised flop and one they never recovered from. But, the move wasn't a complete failure and not many recall that they actually had a hit on their hands with Jobs For The Boys; a spin off of the Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson series Jobs For The Girls which was basically a remake of Chris Searle's In At The Deep End and saw the boys challenged to undertake jobs in the real world - though penning a Eurovision entry to be considered by the UK and staging a Paris fashion show was hardly working at the coal face!

    Lee and Herring used to do a few digs at their expense re H+P@BBC on This Morning With Richard Not Judy, but it was always done with a knowing wink that they too were mining the same kind of material and double act tropes as Gareth and Norm. Indeed on the Lee and Herring website where the diaries for TMWRNJ are still up, we can see that they had asked H+P to take part in some of the sketches, but they ultimately declined. I think regrettably the affection in the piss takes was ultimately missed and subsequently eroded by other comics taking up the charge, thus changing popular opinion.

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    1. Yeah, the move to the BBC didn't do them many favours, but they had been at the top for several years at that point. A backlash was always bound to happen. Still, 10 series of a sketch show isn't bad going!

      And didn't they later turn up in an episode of Extras gently mocking their position?

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    2. They did! Trying to bag a table at The Ivy. When told they could book a table for months in advance, Gareth replies "I might be dead then"

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  2. Their humour was great at the time and has come back to to life via comments on Twitter / Reddit etc. It became fashionable to lay into them in the 90's by unfunny "comedians" who picked up a following of hipsters and sycophants. Watching Sunday league Sid with my mates when we were kids remains one of the funniest times of my life and it still stands the test of time now. - http://youtu.be/TwV6S3Csifk

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    1. I think their humour still has a place on TV, but maybe I'm just getting old!

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  3. I have all 10 series, currently on s4, still cracks me up. I grew up with them. Fond memories and still great laughs

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    1. Hi do you know which series had the 'wel 'ard dog' sketch in it please?

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  4. S1 or s2 I think, ill have a look and get back to ya

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  5. You on about two blokes at a bar saying how ard they are? If so s2 ep6 6mins in

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    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZNgPDy6W18 It is this sketch but I would like to know which series it is out of please. Thanks

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  6. No he goes into a pet shop and asks for a dog that is 'well ard'. he gets offered different ones as he keeps changing his mind about 'a bit ard' and soft but not too 'ard etc

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  7. Ahh got ya, I shall go back and check again for ya

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  8. It's true that Hale & Pace had a following amongst 10-14 year-old boys
    (and a few girls, but mainly boys, as I remember). I think they fell into that category, like the Chevy Chase/National Lampoon Vacation films, whereby you thought it was 'grown-up' to laugh at them at a very young age, then by the time you were a mature 15-year old intellectual, you realised how 'juvenile' their style of humour was.
    Suffice to say, I'm talking from personal experience here, and so it's one of the reasons why I can summon a certain affection for Hale & Pace. After all, there is room for comedy that offers a sort of bridge between straightforward silliness and something a bit more risqué.
    What strikes me about the duo now is how much they seemed like regular guys, you could imagine them being your mate's Dads, almost. Even their first names (Gareth and Norman) were almost defiantly quotidian.

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  9. In the mid 90s when I was a student I lived in Chislehurst near Bromley. We had George Michael living two or three streets away and Norman Hale in the next street. We often used to see him around but I only actually engaged with him once when he was in front of me at the checkout in Sainsburys and he offered to let me go in front of him because I only had a basket of shopping....do in my opinion he's a thoroughly good chap.

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    1. Wow! Chislehurst sounds like it was the place to be in the mid 90s! Screw Camden!

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