This is another Unbound book, it’s not the first, nor will it be the last, that I would have bought if another publisher had taken a chance on it. You may be saying, Larry Who? By the time you finish this book you should be saying ‘Why hadn’t I heard of Larry?’. All I knew of Larry Stephens before reading Julie Warren’s meticulously researched book was that he had some writing credits on the old vinyl recordings of the Goon Show I used to have and on the CD notes of some that I still did.
Post-war humour was utterly changed by the young men who returned from the battlefields of Europe, North Africa and the Far East. The Goons changed what we thought comedy was. All of the Pythons, saving Terry Gilliam will have grown up listening to the Goons.
The author divides the book in half. The first half details Stephens’s Black Country childhood, youth and subsequent call up to the Army. I recognise some of the lunacy prevalent in Military Life, myself. The author is able to point deftly at certain events which reappeared or were re-imagined for Goon Show scripts. The second half leads us through Larry’s career as a radio script-writer for the Goons and Tony Hancock.
Appendix One,entitled “Goonopedia”, contains a list of all the show’s episodes and will be invaluable for the Goon enthusiast.
This book will appeal to both the military historian and students of British humour. It is a fitting tribute to a talent lost to comedy, far too soon.
Available from Jeff B’s monolith here.
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