A ‘Christians in Entertainment’ show, with Cannon and Ball, Syd Little, Diane Regan and compered by CiE organiser Chris Gidney.
|Monday 6th Oct||North Bridge Leisure Centre, Halifax|
|Friday 10th Oct||Fuller Baptist Church, Kettering|
There were undoubtedly other dates
|Sunday 23rd May||Bracknell Family Church, Bracknell|
|Monday 24th May||Princess Royal Theatre, Briton Ferry|
|Tuesday 25th May||Holy Trinity Church, Attleborough, Nuneaton|
|Wednesday 26th May
Thursday 27th May
|Tytherington Family Worship Church, Macclesfield|
|Friday 28th May||New Life Christian Fellowship, Lincoln|
Christians in Entertainment produced a souvenir brochure for all their shows. Called ‘The Laughter Makers’ it includes biographies of a number of Christian entertainers.
‘Funnily enough, my favourite comedians have always been double acts,’ says Tommy Cannon. ‘Laurel & Hardy, Abbot and Costello, Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis easily had me in stitches.’
Now it’s Tommy Cannon & Bobby Ball who have been hailed as Britain’s own Kings of Comedy, and it’s easy to see why. In a career spanning four decades they have achieved a string of honours that puts them among the all time greats of showbusiness.
On television they have enjoyed eleven years of their own comedy series, starred in several Royal Variety Performances and ‘guested’ on all the major television shows. But it is as the undisputed Kings of live entertainment where Cannon S. Ball have set standards that will probably never be equalled. In 1981 they played a six week run at London’s Dominion Theatre in which every seat was sold before opening night. Their Pantomime at the world famous London Palladium in 1988 broke all previous box office records, and they created the record for the largest box office amount taken in one week in British theatre history.
They are the only act to have won three National Club Awards and have been named as the Variety Club Personalities of the year. Their feature film, The Boys in Blue in addition to its cinema success, has gone on to become a video best-seller. The boys were also the subject of This is Your Life.
A season in Florida, a 25 week summer season at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre in their own Rock ‘n Roll spectacular, a Cruise, and their smash hit pantomime ‘Babes in the Wood’ completed a recent working year.
‘When you get on stage and start to hear people laugh, you automatically start laughing along with them,’ says Bobby. ‘It soon becomes a party without the need for alcohol or drugs. In fact laughter is like a drug because it brings about such a change. It’s one drug that we recommend everyone should take on a regular basis!’
Apparently the medicine works even if you are feeling really ill. There’s been several times,’ recalls Bobby ‘when I have had a terrible bout of flu or bronchitis and felt absolutely awful. As soon as I went on stage, the illness just dropped off me and I felt fine. As soon as I came off, it all flooded back. No wonder they call laughter Mr Adrenaline’.
We are often asked what is the difference between a clown, a comic and a comedian. The answer is simple really. A clown goes over the top, a comedian tells gags, and a comic is a naturally funny person. He’s the sort of chap you laugh at before he even opens his mouth.’
After nearly forty years in the biz, does anything still make them laugh? ‘Oh yes,’ says Tommy. ‘Mostly the times when things go wrong on stage. Perhaps if we are in the middle of a sketch, got an unexpected laugh on an ad-lib, and then forgotten where we are in the routine. We both look at each other with crazy wild eyes, hoping that one will help the other and then collapse into hysterics. It happens more than ever these days.’
‘We know that if we are enjoying ourselves on stage, the audience will be having a good time too,’ explains Bobby. That’s really important to us.’
When you laugh, you forget all your problems. Laughter brings a sort of inner peace, and because of that we believe that there is no doubt that laughter comes from God. All the joyous things in life are from him, which is why music and laughter go so well together. I’m sure God laughs at our act too! Particularly when it goes wrong!’
‘There’s always been laughter, but interestingly, our faith has stretched our comedy. We are constantly challenged for our act to be the best without being blue. It’s an enormous thrill to be spotless and storm the place.
Showbusiness may seem to be one of the most glamorous businesses to be in, but it is also one of the hardest. Cannon S. Ball, like many other household names have suffered having their names blasted across the Sunday papers with all kinds of gossip that is often distorted or simply isn’t true. It’s often very difficult to have a right of reply, but Bobby and Tommy have never been keen to hide the difficulties that huge success brought upon them. In their autobiography Rock On Tommy they explain how ego, alcohol and violence took over their personal lives. The book explains how every area of their lives suffered because of their huge success, and they admit that things became more important than life itself
Eventually, their own relationship with each other broke down too. They drifted apart as Bobby’s moods became more and more unbearable for Tommy. On stage they would be seen as one of the most successful and funny double acts of all time, playing constantly to packed houses, yet off stage they would not even be able to talk to each other. Tommy describes these years as the most painful he has known.
Imagine Tommy’s surprise when suddenly everything about Bobby changed. He started talking about his family, started treating other people properly, and eventually told Tommy that he had become a Christian. Tommy’s immediate reaction was that his mate had become a crackpot! Eventually, seeing that this change in Bobby was genuine, deep and possibly even a miracle, Tommy was intrigued to know more.
It took eight years before Tommy made a similar commitment. There then followed a huge press debate as to why this had happened with the gossip columns suggesting that they had both become religious to create new career opportunities! Now their Christian faith is an integral part of their lives, both on stage and off and they both say that it has “* made such a difference.
Now, after 40 years in showbusiness, Cannon & Ball are still one of Britain’s funniest and most successful double acts, and they look forward to continuing to make people laugh for many years to come.
These photos were taken at the performance in Halifax, 6th October 2003.
|Compere Chris Gidney||Singer Diane Regan||Guitarist/Singer Syd Little|
|Tommy Cannon||Bobby Ball|
This backstage cast photo is from Christians in Entertainment