Sunday, October 7, 2012

Video lesson - classic comedy sketch - Four candles

This sketch is a popular favourite from what was one of the most popular British TV shows of all time - The Two Ronnies. It was placed fifth on Channel 4's list of the fifty greatest comedy sketches of all time, and the sketch has had at least one pub named after it: The Four Candles in Oxford.

The humour of this sketch lies in the way different words sound the same (homophones). It was written by Ronnie Barker and performed by the Two Ronnies - Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett.
'Word play and homophones exhibit Barker's fascination with the English language and are cleverly used to powerful comic effect in this sketch. A shopkeeper, played by Ronnie Corbett, in a hardware shop becomes increasingly frustrated by a customer, played by Barker, because he continuously misunderstands what he is requesting.' (Wikipedia)
A further complication is that both men are Londoners, and it is a characteristic of some London dialects that people drop their aitches (the letter H). So hand becomes 'and, horse becomes 'orse, hose becomes 'ose etc.
Barker also pronounces thirteen as thir'een with a silent T, this is known as a glottal stop and is another feature of the way some Londoners speak.
The sketch starts with Barker asking for 'fork 'andles' (handles for garden forks) - Google images - but Corbett thinks he says four candles - Google images - and it goes on from there.
Before you watch the video clip, make sure you know what these are, by looking them up in Google Images
Corbett uses the expression 'You're having me on' a couple of times. To have somebody on means 'to persuade someone that something is true when it is not, usually as a joke' (Cambridge Dictionaries Online). It is almost always used in a continuous tense.
First watch the video without the transcript, and see how much you understand. Then watch again with my (edited) transcript. Finally you can read my comments with more Google Image links.

Legal stuff

The copyright of this material obviously belongs to the creator(s). As it is being used here for educational purposes, and since the video dates back to 1976 and has been on YouTube since 2006, I hope this constitutes 'fair use'.


4 comments: said...

thanks for the posts. nice blog.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the lesson!

somdara said...

hi! thanks you so much, for the posts.



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