Comedian Top Joe's favourite double acts

Comedian Top Joe's favourite double acts

In 1917, French artist Marcel Duchamp trotted down to the local iron works in New York City to purchase a porcelain urinal. Settling on the title ‘Fountain’ he submitted it to the Society of Independent artists and unwittingly launched an artistic revolution.

The piece challenged the very notion of what constitutes art and paved the way for a long line of comedy concerned artists such as John Baldessari and David Shrigley. The latest exploration of art and comedy comes from Bluecoat, Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts.

In Double Act: Art and Comedy, a group of artists including Sarah Lucas and BANK explore how comedy helps us to shape meaning and negotiate the complexities of everyday life. The exhibition runs until Sunday 19 June. 

Here, comedian Top Joe takes us on a short journey through his favourite double acts.

"1. Aigburth Travelodge & Toby Carvery

After a tiring sojourn in Liverpool I insist promoters book me into the Aigburth Travelodge and Toby Carvery so I can fully wind down. I like to take a few days to explore all these two venues have to offer. Being on the periphery of the A561 and Speke Retail Park, they make the perfect choice.

These neighbours are a match made in heaven. What the Travelodge lacks the Carvery makes up for in abundance. If in need of shower gel then you can visit the Carvery for access to multiple soap dispensers. And if hair drying is your thing then you have the 'Xcelerator' hand dryers - new kids on the block in the hand dryer market.

Also lacking at the Travelodge is hot food - something more than made up for at the Carvery. Many people opt for a three-meat roast with all you can eat veg. However, being a staunch buddhist, I opt for a meat-free roast, which in essence becomes an unlimited meal. Soft drinks also come as free refills at the Carvery - however this is not a deal clincher for me as my tipple of choice is tap water.

What the lodge lacks in heat can more than be made up for at the Carvery, where a gas fire is lit 11am-11pm, Sunday-Tuesday, during Wintertime. And if you feel the chill during the Summer then you are welcome to stand near the hot plates, as long as you don't talk to the chef continuously. 

It must be remembered that the Carvery is also lacking in some areas, i.e. beds and private washing facilities – this is where the Travelodge excels. The rooms are clean and the floor serves as the perfect resting space, a welcome alternative to the beds, which I find decadent.

2. Chaka Demus and Pliers

For half a century this duo took the British comedy scene by storm. They first met in 1932 at what is now the site of Birch Services. Little did they know that this chance meeting would change the lives of both men forever. It wouldn’t be until 1937 that they met again, where they found themselves classmates at Crossley Heath Grammar School, where they became known for their love of pranks.

It was during their time at Crossley Heath that they started developing their famous ‘Tease Me’ routine, a highly original piece with Pliers playing the perfect comedy foil to Chaka Demus’s po-faced straight man.

The rest, as they say, is history. Chaka Demus and Pliers went on to become household names throughout the 60’s and right up to the present day.

One anecdote that comes to mind is Chaka’s famous retort to a reporter in 1962; after playing a month of sell-out shows at the London Palladium the reporter asked “What’s next?” to which Chaka replied “Blackpool!” – the in joke being that the Palladium held 2,286 seats whilst the Opera House in Blackpool had a superior 2,813 - true music hall performers through and through.

They are part of a forgotten era and shall be missed - especially Pliers infamous catchphrase, “How tickled I am!” 

"3. The Bee Gees

Robin and Barry Gibb.


Top Joe appears at Funny Looking Presents: Seymour Mace, 81 Renshaw Street, Liverpool, 5 May


Image - Erica Eyres, Clay Head

Double Act: Art and Comedy is curated by David Campbell and Mark Durden.

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