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article imageReview: 'Gags to Riches' Special

By Alexander Baron     Jan 18, 2013 in Entertainment
The comedy circuit can be a hard slog for little money, but the lucky few can supplement their earnings massively by entertaining corporate clients, or even advertising on TV.
Gags to Riches is the first in a three part BBC documentary series called Funny Business, which takes a look at corporate gigs, after dinner speeches and product endorsements.
Veteran Barry Cryer can cost up to £5,000 a session; others who are unquestionably a lot less funny can command a great deal more. The first hour long documentary in this short series contains archive footage of both Bob Monkhouse and Ronnie Barker, both of whom are sadly with us no more. There are also interviews with the new breed of comics, and old timer John Cleese who took the corporate circuit one step further by starting his own business making training films, and yes, that is Prince Charles rather than a lookalike who appears in one of his cameos.
The programme contains what might be considered complementary material to the Radio 4 programme about industrial music which was presented by singer-songwriter Will Young last year. Indeed, the latest gambit by those who want to part us from our money for their products and services is branded content, which although far from new is now taking marketing to what some might call silly extremes.
Although most of the comedians who appear herein claim not to like performing for such audiences and say they do it only for the lucre, at the end of the day an audience is an audience, and as Bob Monkhouse once said, when I said I was going to become a comedian, they all laughed. Well, they're not laughing now. One of the new generation of comics who appeared herein had that experience at one of these corporate gigs. The big question is would he rather have died on stage somewhere on the comedy circuit without a four figure cheque in his back pocket? Actually, that's not a question at all, is it?
More about John cleese, Barry Cryer, branded content
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