Barry Cryer showed us all the benefits of embracing silliness – Scotsman comment

Barry Cryer, who has died at 86, was one of Britain’s funniest-ever comedians but also, importantly, one of its silliest.

Barry Cryer was one of the greats of British comedy (Picture: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Barry Cryer was one of the greats of British comedy (Picture: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

That he was not more famous is largely because he gave many of his best jokes to the leading lights of 20th century comedy, like The Two Ronnies, Morecambe and Wise, Tommy Cooper and Bob Hope. Paying tribute, BBC director-general Tim Davie said: “If you heard or saw a great sketch, there was always a good chance Barry was behind it.”

He was also a regular performer at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and on BBC radio panel shows like I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue.

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For Cryer, calling someone “silly”, was the highest praise. “Eric and Ernie were two grown men being silly… I love adults being utterly silly,” he once said.

And it was in this spirit that, some years ago, Cryer, who had paid tribute to many late colleagues, did so to, er, himself.

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Barry Cryer: British writer and comedian, Barry Cryer, has died aged 86

"Barry Cryer, welcome along, did you know Barry Cryer?” he was asked on a BBC radio show.

“I knew him all his life.”

Was he a friend? “Very close, we were just stitched at the hip, we were like one person, it was that close.

"He was such good company [presenter stifles laugh], he made me laugh so much, I mean I couldn’t have enough of his jokes, he was a compulsive joke-teller and all his friends were very patient with him, including me... it was just laughter all the way. A joy to be with.”

In serious times, Barry Cryer’s good-humoured silliness provided an antidote. So, if you feel the urge, don’t be embarrassed, just embrace the silly.

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