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Frank Carson

Frank Carson, the Belfast Catholic comedian famous for his motor mouth and his “It’s a cracker” and “It’s the way I tell ’em” catchphrases, died on 22 February 2012. He was 85.

All the national dailies quote fellow Irish comedian Spike Milligan’s quip about Carson:

What’s the difference between Frank Carson and the M1? – You can turn off the M1.

The Guardian is somewhat critical of Carson’s “ingenuous, robust and manically assertive way with a gag”:

[Carson] could sometimes be insensitive to the possible effect on other people. In some ways he was a more animated version of Bernard Manning. He had a raucous laugh (“like John Cole on steroids”, said one commentator), which shook his bulky frame, but it was not always a complete protection against an inability to walk the fine line between what was acceptable and what was not.

The Daily Telegraph takes a predictably different line:

Many of his gags were “Irish” jokes, which is to say that they poked gentle fun at Carson’s own people, although the modern pieties of political correctness would probably now prohibit many of them — especially those of the “thick Mick” variety — from being broadcast.

And The Independent points out:

Not everyone in Ireland took offence for, moving to the Irish Republic for a few years, he was twice elected mayor of the County Dublin town of Balbriggan. But he later developed his own sensitivities, particularly about the language to be heard in modern comedy. “There are so many great new comics,” he said, “but too many keep using the F-word, which I think is despicable. I wish them the very best with their careers, but I hate the way that some seem to think you need to use bad language to be funny.”

The Belfast Telegraph quotes a joint statement by leaders on either side of Northern Ireland’s communal divide – very appropriately given Carson’s charitable activity on behalf of integrated education in the six counties:

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said Carson would be remembered with “special fondness”. “A bit of colour has dropped out of everyone’s life following the death of Frank Carson,” they said in a joint statement. “But his laughter will echo around his native Belfast, and farther afield, for years to come.”

The last word – also in the Belfast Telegraph – goes to Carson’s son Tony, on plans to take his father’s body back to Belfast for burial:

“We have to take him home,” his son said. “That’s where he came from and that’s where he gets the roots of his humour – that sort of Belfast dry wit, no respect for anything or everybody but respect at the same time. So we’ve got to take him back there and celebrate the great life that he had.”

(Hugh Francis Carson KSG, born 6 November 1926 in Belfast, died 22 February 2012 in Blackpool)