50 years on - and still having a ball

Cannon and ball
Cannon and ball
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The Cannon and Ball Show - Grand Theatre, Blackpool

FOR golden jubilees and golden weddings, people wave flags or buy presents.

So what do you do to celebrate the world record of 50 years as a comedy couple?

Well, you polish up your tried and trusted routine, sprinkle in a few new gems and basically get on with what you’ve been doing so well for so long.

That at least is what Cannon and Ball do.

They started out augmenting their daytime salaries at a time when every other “turn” seemed to be a comedy double act.

Granted there are still some around – but none have clocked up 50 years (The Grumbleweeds are disqualified because they started out as a five-piece and have only been a duo for a few years).

The secret of their enduring success is actually no secret at all.

Anyone who has seen them (and that must be most people, by now) will know they’ve both got funny bones.

Bobby Ball brings a smile to faces before he even opens his mouth – and with television exposure in the likes of Sky Living’s Mount Pleasant (series two starts next Wednesday) is now a familiar face to a whole new generation.

Tommy Cannon’s straight man is the perfect counter balance.

It’s urbane versus urban.

Everyman meets gentleman.

Booted and suited versus belt and braces.

It’s a formula which has been tweaked a little over the years, greying the edges between the two, but it was never broken, so why fix it?

We know the love hate relationship is an act. And we love it.

They’ve kept their eye on the ball (and the Ball). Olympics references keep things fresh, as do the yin and yang approach to Google (“do you Google yourself?”), Tweets, Hotmail and Yahoo.

And then there’s ventriloquism.

Meet the third member of the double act – little Kevin Kannon. It’s an excellent interlude, with the “dummy” cleverly switching allegiance between the bullying Tommy and the childish Bobby. As fresh as a daisy and twice as funny.

Yes, there’s still pathos here but there’s also rock and roll, audience participation (some welcome and some fairly mindless heckling) and more than enough laughs to make everyone forget the real world. Roll on the next 50 years!

Opening the show is local vocalist Peter Anthony with a selection of big ballads delivered clubland style – and some impressive falsettos.

Replacing the incapacitated Duncan Norvelle is familiar face Stu “Crush A Grape” Francis. He works the audience well (particularly late comers) but needs to trim some of his material down, speed things up and not overstay his welcome.

The Cannon and Ball Show runs every Friday until November 2

Robin Duke