Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Trollied Tuesday on the telly

Spectacular drunkenness, like all vocations, requires a certain artistry. One could say the same about broadcasting, I suppose. In any case, broadcasting while blootered is one of those things that, when done properly, enters the realm of the sublime.

The Guardian's Organ Grinder has a run-down with some fine anecdotes and footage (the audio of Lt Cmdr Thomas Woodroofe's glorious "the fleet's lit up" broadcast is well worth a listen if you haven't heard it before.)

Here's a personal favourite that was missed from the Organ Grinder list: Serge Gainsbourg meeting the young Whitney Houston on French television. ("Sometimes ee's a beet drunk you know.") It has everything you could want from the human drama: comedy, farce, passion, romance and the tragedy of his eventual rejection.

You see, for the public drunkard going on telly while trollied is the ultimate performance; one that subverts the established order of things reveals profound truths about the artist and life itself. As the following vignette about Brendan Behan following one especially paralytic appearance demonstrates:

Meanwhile the writer was congratulated on the street for his performance long after the event. "Good on yer, you was properly pissed on TV last night," opined one literary buff, while another claimed he had understood every mumble Behan had made, but "hadn't a clue what that bugger Muggeridge was on about".

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