Nicholas Parsons had an important life lesson for us all – leader comment
Amid the deluge of tributes to Nicolas Parsons after his death at the age of 96 was one that perhaps said it all.
Comedian Rachel Parris recalled the 2016 Chortle comedy awards, describing the room as “cacophonous” with everyone “talking over the winners as usual, all night”. But, when Parsons went up to collect an award, a “reverent hush fell over the whole room,” Parris said, “followed by a thunderous standing ovation. Even drunk comics know true quality.”
Parsons, who began his showbiz career after using jokes and impersonations to win over Glasgow shipbuilders during a stint as a trainee engineer on the Clyde, once spoke about the qualities of a “good straight man” in a comedy duo. “You know how to take a joke at your expense” was one.
The arrival of so-called alternative comedy in the 1980s saw Parsons sometimes made the butt of the joke, but he took it in his stride and basically became part of the gang, appearing as himself in The Comic Strip Presents. And that, perhaps, is an important lesson he can teach us all – not to take ourselves too seriously, to take a joke and enjoy life.