Dave Allen was a frequently “controversial” Irish comedian who was active from the late 1950s through the very early 1990s. He worked with everyone from just-starting-out Beatles to Maggie Smith (in a production of Peter Pan, with Allen playing “Mr Darling” and “Captain Hook”) to vaudeville star Sophie Tucker.
He was briefly banned from Australian media in the 60s, and criticized in Parliament for “offensive language” after a joke on the BBC in the 90s. (“We spend our lives on the run. We get up by the clock, eat and sleep by the clock, go to work by the clock, get up again, go to work –– and then we retire. And what do they fucking give us? A clock.”)
As a “practising atheist” who frequently satirized religion in his comedy, Allen managed to alienate both Catholics and Protestants. He’d end his act by toasting the audience with the words “Goodnight, thank you, and may your God go with you”.
A long time ago, PBS ran some of his shows in the US. I doubt they’d do that today.
”Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very Heaven!”
It was 50 years ago that Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters made their famous cross-country journey from Kesey’s ranch in La Honda, California, to New York, dispensing joy and LSD to anyone they met along the way. (Acid was legal in the United States until 1966). They made the trip in a psychedelically painted bus named “Furthur”.
The Beatles had arrived in the US a few months earlier, Andy Warhol’s 13 Most Wanted Men mural proved too edgy for New York World’s Fair officials, who covered it with silver paint, and Bob Dylan released The Times They Are a-Changin’. The possibilities seemed limitless.
It didn’t end well.
After an arrest for marijuana possession the next year, Kesey faked his own suicide and hid out in Mexico for eight months, then returned to the States and served a five month sentence in a county jail. After that, he moved back to the family farm in Oregon, where he spent the rest of his life. There were apparently several “descendents” of the magic bus, but the original Furthur eventually wound up in a swamp on the farm.
Ken Kesey stands next to the overgrown Merry Pranksters bus on his Oregon property months before his death in 2001. Photo by Brian Davies, AP