Goodnight, thank you, and may your God go with you.
March 11, 2005 7:53 PM   Subscribe

Dave Allen drank whiskey and smoked cigarettes while telling jokes about sex and the church from his swivel chair on BBC2 in the early 70's. Some called him the "Irish Lenny Bruce" and he was a major influence on England's alternative stand comedy scene. He passed away this week and is fondly remembered by Eddie Izzard and other current British comedians.
posted by Slack-a-gogo (39 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Man. I watched this on PBS too,
and his closing line just popped into my mind.

"Good night, thank you...
and may your God go with you."

and may yours go with you Mr. Allen.

posted by exparrot at 8:06 PM on March 11, 2005

This really breaks my heart. I remember watching Dave Allen with my dad when I was really young. I know, I know... but I was so youngthat I only understood the missing finger jokes, and I loved the time with dad. Later in life I watched the back episodes and actually got them.
I have nothing but love for Dave Allen.
Rest in Peace.
posted by oflinkey at 8:21 PM on March 11, 2005

The man could really tell a joke. Haven't seen his show in, goodness, it may be decades now...
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:31 PM on March 11, 2005

A gentleman and a scholar. Oh, and a riotous wit. I heartily recommend a good dose of Dave to everyone.
posted by Ridge at 8:37 PM on March 11, 2005

posted by AlexReynolds at 8:51 PM on March 11, 2005

Any online samples of this guy?
posted by punkbitch at 8:55 PM on March 11, 2005

This really breaks my heart. I remember watching Dave Allen with my dad when I was really young. I know, I know... but I was so youngthat I only understood the missing finger jokes, and I loved the time with dad. Later in life I watched the back episodes and actually got them.

Man, that is me all over. I reckon I "got" one joke in over two years watching that show... but I watched it and looked forward to it each week.

The joke I did get:

99 year old woman wants to do something exciting before she dies so she streaks naked thru a pub. Two drunks are sitting there and one remarks "what was she wearing?" and the other drunks says, "whatever she was wearing, it sure needed ironing!"

Thank you. Good night, thank you... and may your God go with you.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:00 PM on March 11, 2005

I used to enjoy his show on PBS as well.

It's not a sample of him, but I happen to have an import CD by Alan Hawkshaw, who performed the Dave Allen at Large theme song.

I don't normally do this, but I will keep this up for a while. Please treat it gently.
posted by sciatica at 9:52 PM on March 11, 2005

Another lifetime Dave Allen fan here, I grew up watching him on "Dave Allen at Large", saw him live in Toronto a number of years ago (he was just as funny then as he was on TV in the 70's, and one line from his live routine, about how his son had turned into some kind of sub-human during his teenaged years, able only to utter monosyllabic sentences like "DAD! NO MILK!", remains in use in my family to this day). He was truly a clever, deep-thinking man, and he used his humour to try and get people to think critically (as well as laugh), which makes him a definite Doer of Good in my books. Very sad news indeed, he was like a part of my family, the world's a little darker tonight without him.

"I wouldn't 'a touched him, only he pulled a gun on me!"

posted by biscotti at 10:05 PM on March 11, 2005

Holy cow, there's another part of my childhood gone... weirdly enough, my favorite skit of his was parodying Bergman films... I think.

Dave was sitting in the foreground, on a rock, reciting a verse about how miserable his life was. In the background, on the rocky hillside, was a Grim Reaper, black robe and all, who would flicker forward closer to him after every line of Dave's verse about how miserable his life was.

On his last line, Dave reached to his hip and pulled out a sword, just in time to hit the Grim Reaper (who had appeared behind him) in the crotch.

Even for a kid who knew Monty Python, that was priceless.. . and that was one of the first gags I'd ever seen where someone was laughing at death itself. A pretty appropriate memory for tonight, I suppose...
posted by BoringPostcards at 10:25 PM on March 11, 2005


I just looked him up on Google last week to see what he was up to.

I loved his show which was a frequent late night fixture on Louisville (KY) public TeeVee back in the late 70's.

May your god go with you, indeed.
posted by OneOliveShort at 11:01 PM on March 11, 2005

He used to be on after Benny Hill in New York, providing a profound contrast in styles. Favorite line: "I drink my whiskey diluted (...pause...) with vodka."
posted by QuietDesperation at 11:42 PM on March 11, 2005

I grew up on his anti-religious and rambling monologue humour. He was a gem. RIP.
posted by peacay at 12:09 AM on March 12, 2005

posted by jackiemcghee at 1:50 AM on March 12, 2005

posted by TheDonF at 3:03 AM on March 12, 2005

i remember him as being so classy... so cool
posted by tsarfan at 4:30 AM on March 12, 2005

i'm amazed to see how young he is in those stills. i remember him as this old man with a missing finger and a glass of whiskey. even after all this time "may your god go with you" still rings a bell.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:08 AM on March 12, 2005

I loved his funny creepy stories the best.

The following are some of the quotes from the Independent's tribute to Dave Allen.


* I still think of myself as I was 25 years ago. Then I look in a mirror and see an old bastard and realise it's me."
* Am I the Irish comedian with half a finger? No, I'm the Irish comedian with nine and a half fingers."
* "A good storyteller never lets the facts get in the way."
* "We spend our lives on the run: we get up by the clock, eat and sleep by the clock, get up again, go to work - and then we retire. And what do they give us? A clock."
* "I don't go out of my way to be outrageous, I just go out of my way to look at things."
* "I'm an atheist ... thank God."
* "I've stopped smoking ... I think the cost was a lot of it, and not being able to breathe. I first gave up smoking when I was eight."
* "If it's sent by ship then it's a cargo, if it's sent by road then it's a shipment."
* "Don't mourn for me now, don't mourn for me never - I'm going to do nothing for ever and ever (what Allen said he would like to have inscribed on his tombstone)."
posted by Tarrama at 5:56 AM on March 12, 2005 [1 favorite]

Loved the guy. He got better as he got older, too: fewer easy one-liners and more rambling, irreverent observations.

Random memory of one of his sketches: sad, guilty-looking man walks into church. There are two confessional booths. One has a sign saying "Forgivable Sins", the other, "Unforgivable Sins". Man looks undecided, starts to head for "Forgivable Sins", pauses, shakes head, enters "Unforgivable Sins" instead.

Man plummets through floor of confessional, flames belch upwards, demonic cackling and screaming heard....
posted by Decani at 6:41 AM on March 12, 2005

Dave in a reverend's outfit: At the end of the world there will be a great gnashing of teeth!

Little old lady in the front pew: But what if we haven't got any teeth?

Dave: Teeth will be provided!

Cheers Dave.

posted by dazed_one at 7:54 AM on March 12, 2005

I also used to watch him after Benny Hill, when I was in high school. I'm sad that he's gone.
posted by zorro astor at 8:11 AM on March 12, 2005

My local PBS affiliate showed Dave Allen at Large way back when I was in high school. Laughed my ass off.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:19 AM on March 12, 2005

I used to watch him too, right after Benny Hill. This is truly sad. I was wondering what he was up to as well, if he was still alive or not.

He was such a different prescence on TV in the 70s (especially American TV): just a guy sitting in a dark studio with a drink, smoking a cigarette, telling jokes.

Let's hope there are some DVDs forthcoming (if there aren't any already out there...)
posted by braun_richard at 9:20 AM on March 12, 2005

My favorite sketch was one of his Robin Hood ones:

Robin (Allen) and Little John were walking through the wood and stop behind a tree to take a piss. When they finish, Robin says "You know, I've always wondered why they call you 'Little John'."

It truly takes an Irishman to make proper fun of the English.
posted by dragonmage at 9:44 AM on March 12, 2005

One of my favourite jokes he told went something like this.

A priest at a boarding school is putting one of the boys to bed. The priest says to one of the boys, "Now son, fold your arms in a cross over your chest as you go to sleep." The boy says, "Is that so that Jesus will watch over me through the night?" The priest says, "God no. It's to stop you masturbating."

posted by freddles at 10:23 AM on March 12, 2005

I watched Dave Allen on PBS in Detroit. He was captivating when telling a joke, with perfect timing, voices, inflections. Sad to see him go.
posted by mach at 11:03 AM on March 12, 2005

Wow...another hero of mine passes.

I watched Allen, The Two Ronnies, Benny Hill and Monty Python (on PBS!!) during my teens...I wouldn't be the same person if it wasn't for them.

posted by black8 at 11:11 AM on March 12, 2005

I have some very fond memories of watching Dave Allen at Large on PBS with my dad back when I was a kid. Fridays at 8:00, I think. Of course, I never actually understood a damned thing he said, but my dad was in stitches. All I knew was that Monty Python's Flying Circus was on immediately afterwards. (Mind you, I probably didn't understand that show either, but at least there was a healthy amount of slapstick that the average eight-year-old can appreciate.)

Now that I'm older, I'm going to see if I can track down any copies of that show and see what it was that my dad found so hilarious.

Cheers, Dave. Thanks for my memories and my dad's laughter. We'll miss you.
posted by Jim Davenport at 11:19 AM on March 12, 2005

Oh, and sciatica, that's one fantastic theme song! Thanks! (Incidentally, is the rest of Alan Hawkshaw's material this funky?)
posted by Jim Davenport at 11:27 AM on March 12, 2005

posted by tomcosgrave at 11:44 AM on March 12, 2005


Yes, it is. The CD is called Mo'hawk. It is available on Amazon for $18.99. In addition, some of his stuff is on the Music for TV Dinners series of CD's along with other production music of the 50-60's.
posted by sciatica at 11:57 AM on March 12, 2005

"Thanks for my memories and my dad's laughter". That's exactly right... "goodnight, and may your god go with you".
posted by Holly at 12:59 PM on March 12, 2005

The funniest thing I ever saw him do was a routine about sex-powered cars, and how great that would be, coupled with the image of a police car manned by a solitary policeman chasing a stolen vehicle (replete with frantic hand-movement).

Yeah, he was a genuine benefit to the world.

Thanks for the smiles, Dave.
posted by Blue Stone at 1:53 PM on March 12, 2005

I used to watch this show too.

posted by First Post at 2:07 PM on March 12, 2005

Along with Monty Python, The Prisoner and others, this was an integral part of my childhood, and certainly played no small part in my winding up as I have: an intelligent, free-willed, anti-establishment absurdist. Sadly, while Python and The Prisoner have both been given the dee-luxe DVD treatment, I've yet to find any Dave Allen anywhere, other than in my (very fond) memories.

Perhaps his passing will generate enough interest to spur ITV, the BBC or whomever into making a DVD release. Cold comfort, surely, but better than nothing. That, and I sooo want my children to grow up being able to sneak downstairs after _their_ bedtimes and watch something so captivating and sacrilegious, even if they don't understand all of it until some years later.

S'funny, but it never ocurred to me until today that his lovely "...and may your god go with you" signoff, which seemed so kind when he said it, could just as easily be taken to mean "and make sure you take your god with you when you leave, since I surely don't want him lingering around here."

Charming devil. God bless 'im.

posted by sfslim at 4:42 PM on March 12, 2005

May your God, if you have a God, go with you.

posted by unrepentanthippie at 4:45 PM on March 12, 2005

Ahh, count me as one more who remembers Dave Allen on PBS in my younger days... The stuff from Britian always seemed funnier, and just a bit more naughty than what the US had to offer.
posted by raster at 5:42 PM on March 12, 2005

I believe the reason there's no Dave Allen on DVD (or video) is likely also the reason there weren't (m)any reruns of the old shows: he refused to allow it while he was alive. So maybe we can console ourselves with the thought that someone might release a deluxe DVD set.
posted by biscotti at 8:18 PM on March 12, 2005

This really broke my heart. When we were stationed in England in the early seventies Dave Allen and Monte Python were THE family gathering point. When my dad got sent back to Vietnam, he finagled the military to let us stay in Isleham, England until his tour was up.

DAAL was the show that helped me feel close to my Dad while he away. Seeing Allen sit there so relaxed and tell jokes, smoke and stir his drink with the stub of his missing finger.. I dunno, it was oddly comforting.
posted by tkchrist at 11:53 AM on March 14, 2005

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