Making people laugh — Gerry Kersey — 26th June 2017


Many will have heard Gerry Kersey as a d.j. and inter­viewer on vari­ous radio pro­grammes.  He was born in Shiregreen in Sheffield before WW2.  At 18 he was called up for National Service and was draf­ted into the RAF as a tele­phon­ist.  This was good train­ing for a future in radio.  Gerry can be heard on Radio Sheffield at 4.00pm on Sunday after­noons in his pro­gramme “Musical nos­tal­gia and chat”.

He has always been inter­ested in people and loves a chat.  He is a tal­en­ted ama­teur artist as well as a keen ama­teur dra­matic actor and singer.

His storey for his talk about comedy star­ted in 1966 when he was work­ing in the p.r. sec­tion of Cintride Ltd and was organ­ising an exhib­i­tion stand at Olympia in London.  On this stand he met a number of celebrit­ies of the time includ­ing Stirling Moss and Robert Beatty.  At the time Ken Dodd was a rising star with his tick­ling stick.  Gerry had the idea of making a tick­ling stick out of carbide tipped product and pink feath­ers.  He then put the word out and attrac­ted Ken Dodd to the stand.  Gerry was rewar­ded with a ticket to see him in his show “Doddy’s here”.  He ended up drink­ing in the no. 1 dress­ing room with Ken and others and became hooked on the comedy side of show busi­ness.

Gerry quite fan­cied becom­ing a stand-up comic.  His chance came when he was offered the first slot for the Christmas Show at the Highcliffe Club in Sheffield.  He bombed and real­ised that he really didn’t want to spend his life like that but he was still fas­cin­ated in the mech­an­ics of making people laugh.  During his radio career he inter­viewed many famous comics and they built up his know­ledge of the sub­ject.  There are no books about the sub­ject, it can only really be tested on stage.

Gerry defined at least ten dif­fer­ent types of laughter.  As people get older they tend to develop a recog­nis­able laugh and you can some­times recog­nise the laugh of some­body behind you.  In the 1950’s quite often people were planted in audi­ences to encour­age laughter.  When listen­ing to record­ings of these shows one can often recog­nise the same dis­tinct­ive laughter from one show to another.

In war­time there seemed to be a great need for joke telling and Gerry was aware of the dark side of comedy, he men­tioned Tony Hancock and Kenneth Williams deaths.  On the bright side every­body remem­bers a host of comics from the past with affec­tion.  Gerry’s favour­ite was prob­ably Tommy Cooper and he noted that sev­eral comics he inter­viewed all held Tommy as their model.  A comic he came to admire was Bob Monkhouse who stud­ied and had vast know­ledge about making people laugh.

Gerry noted that there is a dif­fer­ence between appear­ing before a live audi­ence where you receive applause at the end of the per­form­ance and many tv shows and films where recog­ni­tion comes later.  For Gerry he loves to dwell in the past as it can’t get any worse and can’t do more harm.

He examined ten or more dif­fer­ent types of comedy giving examples of each.  His talk was littered with jokes and was thor­oughly enjoyed by his audi­ence who left with smiles on their faces.