Bernard Manning From Beyond the Grave
The last time I watched someone’s commentary on their own funeral it was Jonny Kennedy‘s affecting and inspirational The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off. Last night I got to see Bernard Manning perform the same miracle in Bernard Manning From Beyond the Grave – a very personal signing off from the poisonous old cunt who knocked audiences dead every night of his working life. In narrating his own obituary Manning clearly wanted to provide a definitive full-stop on the thousands of words he knew would be written about him on his demise. That would be a tough thing to resist for anyone, let alone somebody as conceited as Manning. The resulting programme won’t have changed many people’s minds but, like with his face, it was shown warts-and-all. He’s not someone who gets spun.
"He looks terrible and is clearly already dying – diabetes, blood pressure and angina conspiring to slow him down – he potters around like an old wounded water buffalo talking about the Roller in his garage and how he played the MGM Grand."
And naturally, there weren’t many brown faces at the funeral. It wasn’t a time for diversity, it was a time for pasty-faced salt-of-the-earths to get maudlin at the passing of one of their champions. With a superimposed Manning delivering "fookin’ hell"s at various points in the proceedings everything felt quite surreal. He looks terrible and is clearly already dying – diabetes, blood pressure and angina conspiring to slow him down – he potters around like an old wounded water buffalo, talking about the Roller in his garage and how he played the MGM Grand.
He’s a simple man with simple logic – the people kept laughing at his jokes, so he kept telling them. You can see the attraction – his one-liners are brilliantly economical and his timing is flawless. The racist material stopped him from becoming a Les Dawson type light entertainment giant but in truth, he never had any of Dawson’s warmth or more sophisticated character-based humour – he was a simple gag telling machine and building a show around that type of one-line humour is notoriously difficult.
"’I don’t like Asians, fucking blacks, chinks, Australians. I’ve always treated people the same – like cunts.’ In case you’re wondering, this is the part where he’s not joking."
That twat Jonathan Margolis appeared, of course. Having written an apologia in biography form for Manning he still tried to go with the line that Manning was an anarchist who just got laughs wherever they were available. When finally pushed into a corner on his favourite subject’s racial attitudes Margolis said "deep down, do I think Bernard was a racist?" Long pause. "Yeah." Thanks for that stunningly consistent contribution, Jonathan – Bernard Manning the anarchist racist who looked after his own.
Manning himself was more forthcoming on his beliefs. “I broke every commandment in the book. I’ve lied, cheated, fucked people in business. I don’t like Asians, fucking blacks, chinks, Australians. I’ve always treated people the same – like cunts.” In case you’re wondering, this is the part where he’s not joking.
Intended as a two-fingered salute to his critics, the programme actually served his enemies more than his friends. It revealed a vile unreconstructed racist fuck . Despite all the stuff you hear about a joke just being a joke he made it explicit that his racist material reflected his real views. That doesn’t leave his apologists with much room to manoeuvre. What they say is true, though – we won’t see his kind again. That’s probably not a bad thing.
The best thing about it: It was an accurate portrayal of the turd.
The worst thing about it: His apologists digging their own graves.
The verdict on Bernard Manning From Beyond the Grave: Fuck off, fatty
Marks out of 10: 7