Sarcastic Voyage - Nick and Willikins - Keep Calm and Ooh-Da-Lay
• I've mentioned previously that I keep a giant list of Quintessentially British things to reference when writing Nick and Willikins. Having covered many of the big ones already (Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, a trip to Victorian England) and wanting to do something a bit lighter after the exposition-heavy Omce and Future Nick, I thought it might be fun to check out the oft-referenced Carry On films. As far as I knew, these were a series of one-note bawdy sex comedies from the 60s and 70s. And while they did end up being that, they were also so much more. At their peak, Carry On was the British equivalent of Mel Brooks — yes, there were bad puns and racy jokes, but there was also some satire and a lot of parody. Brooks drew on the tried-and-true staples of American vaudeville and Carry On used its British counterpart, music hall. Surprisingly, many of these films (there were over 30; I watched probably 20 of them in my research) were genuinely funny, not to mention charming as hell. I tried to distill the essence of my favorite ones into this story, while also providing a narrative escape hatch that allowed us to do 60s-style sex jokes without actually becoming the horrible, problematic thing we were referencing. I'm pretty pleased with the results.
• During their heyday, the Carry On films opened with that double-gong sound we kicked this story off with. But I also wanted to establish that Nick had an irritating sound effects app on his phone. I try my best to be economical in my jokes/references/plot points, and this is one time I feel like I was moderately successful at that.
• Nicole had some trouble with the phrase "ooh-da-lay," which is insane, given how it's definitely a real thing that people say all the time. Geez, Nicole.
• Lord Gordon was, of course, established as Nick's father in The Omce and Future Nick. I felt like we'd done everything with the character we could do, and his death served as a nice kick-off for Nick's quest to become a better person.
• That's Jason Wallace as The Queen, whom we have now established in the role a few times prior. I don't think drag is especially funny in and of itself, but I do still have a soft spot for the Monty Python-style pepperpot voice. Sue me.
• The Narrator, of course, transcended to a higher plane in The Omce and Future Nick. Which is to say that Dave, who recorded literally dozens of these things for us in the span of about six years, finally got tired of narrating for nothing and moved on. Can't say that I blame him, but it does, as Nick says, feel weird doing anything without his accompaniment.
• I wanted to be very careful with this protester thing. I didn't want to get too political, but I also don't think it's highly controversial to say that some things in the world are a bit weighted in favor of the privileged few. I didn't want to beat people over the head with that in our goofy comedy radio play, but I also didn't want to come off like I was making fun of it, either. In the end, I decided to hand this scene over to an actual woman (Amanda) for input. Hopefully we did it (social) justice.
• Something we hadn't made hugely clear in previous installments is how Nick, generally speaking, is only horrible to Willikins. Out among people in the world, he tends to be kind and thoughtful. Hopefully that comes across more clearly here.
• Brian Lynch as Kenneth W. Shagg is meant to evoke Kenneth Williams of Carry On. There are a few of these direct references in here, but I tried to make them broad caricatures (not difficult, given that they were in the first place) that don't necessarily rely on you knowing the original source to get the joke. Brian, unsurprisingly, completely nailed it.
• Nick shouting WE MUST ALL STAY WOKE! very loudly was not meant to be wordplay, but I'm pleased that it can be taken that way.
• Does Nick have a mother? Best not to speculate.
• I can't resist a bit of world-building, even in a one-off radio play. Nick's family has been established as the owners of the SVN/SVFM media empire for some time now, but finding an excuse to actually bring them to Contentment Corner was fun for me. We also got to reuse a new character, “Stormy Normy” Wilson, whom we created for the most recent Aaron Faucet bit.
• Mr. Irons would be Glenn Irons. Is he related to Sheriff Trace Irons from Contentment Corner? Probably.
• Normy apologizing for America being terrible may be a bit political, now that I think of it.
• Tordovia is our go-to fake foreign country, home to Frank and Sandra, who appear here. That is the extent to which I can adequately explain them and their deal. Either you get it or you don't.
• Willikins was established as gay in The Omce and Future Nick, but it doesn't really matter a whole lot because Nick won't ever actually allow him the comfort of another human being.
• Frank and Sandra divorced in this sketch. I don't expect anyone to remember that.
• One of the problems we run into building stories from sketches that were originally written and performed by two people is that most of our main characters are played by the same people. Which makes scenes like "Nick and Willikins meet Frank and Sandra" a bit tricky, since Maggie and I don't exactly have a wide vocal range. This is to say that I would have loved to write an entire episode of this nonsense, but I kept it short and tried not to have any parts where we had to speak as two different characters in direct succession.
• The Talbot's Todger was named after Talbot Rothwell, who wrote most of the good Carry On films. I'm also pretty proud of "Trousersfound-Upon-Floor," if we're being completely honest here.
• Carry On Abroad took place, as you might suspect, in another country. The regular troupe of actors was thrilled by the prospect of traveling someplace nice, but instead discovered that the parking lot of their studio had been covered in sand to simulate a beach. (Those films were notoriously low-budget, which is why they got to make 30 of them.) So the "authentic simulated 60s farce hotel" naturally has a parking lot covered in sand.
• It fell to Jason Wallace to take up the extremely challenging role of Sid, modeled after the legendary Carry On performer Sid James. Sid was one of those extremely rare Dirty Old Man types who wasn't actually problematic, for the most part. He was charming and fun, like your grandfather who tells dirty jokes when your parents aren't around. It's a difficult line to walk without falling into "just plain creep," but Jason pulled it off. He even got Sid James' laugh, which was once described as "the dirtiest on television."
• That's me and Amanda as David Mitchell and Victoria Coren-Mitchell. It delights us that these two very funny celebrities, now married to one another, have essentially the same voice. Plus, I'm a huge Mitchell and Webb fan, so...
• That's Amanda as, basically, Barbara Windsor, the last of our Carry On homage characters. She was having trouble getting into the Cockney accent until we realized she just needed to reverse all the advice from My Fair Lady. Much of her performance is based on a movie called Cor Blimey, which is a (surprisingly entertaining) dramatization of the real-life romance between Windsor and Sid James.
• "One time my top came off and people are still talking about it" is a reference to that very thing happening in a Carry Onfilm, which has since become everyone's favorite Carry On film. Seriously, the nudity happened for less than a second. It was not as big a deal as everyone seems to want it to have been.
• This barrage of one-liners from Sid was one of the hardest things I've ever had to write.
• The endings of these things are often rushed, so I didn't feel so bad about my usual tendency toward that sort of thing. Also, I never specifically intended for "Brexit" to be the punchline, but it was too great to pass up.
• Canonically, the next Nick and Willikins story after this is the Adventures of Nick and Willikins adventure game we co-produced with Pinhead Games. (Though technically it comes chronologically before this story, since Nick references the death of Errol here.)
Mark Boszko - Vicar, “Stormy Normy” Wilson
Brian Lynch - Kenneth W. Shaggs
Maggie Rowbotham - Nick, Sandra, The Bear
Nicole Santora - Protester
Amanda Smith - Babs, Victoria
Jason Wallace - Sid, The Queen
Ron “AAlgar” Watt - Willikins, Frank, Cooter, David
Written & directed by Ron “AAlgar” Watt
© 2017 AAlgar Productions