I thought that since I like Peter Sellers (a brilliant but troubled man) on the one hand and Monty Python on the other this wd be a good way to bridge the gap, to see how the talent of the 1950s segued into that of the '60s and the legacy they left behind on the 70s. In particularly I wanted to learn how the Goon Show (whom I had heard much about but seen or heard v. little of their actual work) inspired those who followed.
To my disappointment, that's not what this book is about. Carpenter is primarily concerned with Alan Bennett, who I'd not even heard of, with some attention to Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, and David Frost, none of whom I'm especially interested in. There are only passing references to Peter Sellers and his Goon Show partner Spike Milligan, about whom I know only enough to convince me of his importance.*** The Pythons come in only as respectful admirers of a generation later; Douglas Adams, a generation after that, escapes Carpenter's purview altogether.
So, I'll have to come back to this one at sometime down the line when I've gotten over the disappointment that's entirely my own fault: having imagined a book was one thing when it was really another.
Oh well. Even such cursory searching as I did on the internet to get a sense of what Milligan and the Goons were like, coincidently juxtaposed with my watching a documentary about the making of A HARD DAY'S NIGHT, made me appreciate just how much of the famous Beatles' humour was their own take on Milligan et al. And I now see that Milligan's trademark was to take a situation, any situation, and within a few steps reduce it to anarchy. It's as if the world were constantly offering him straight lines and he cd never resist delivering the punchline that just popped into his head.
--current reading: PAPAL LIES by Wills (finishing up); MYTHAGO WOOD (re-reading); two others.
*Kalamazoo 2012, it turns out
**like GENUISES TOGETHER, THE BRIDESHEAD GENERATION, and of course THE INKLINGS
***for a sample of Milligan at work, give a listen to his short skit ("8 o'clock") with the third Goon, Harry Secombe: