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"I've been so-and-so" (sign-off phrase)

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Brock
1381501.  Fri May 14, 2021 1:17 pm Reply with quote

I can't think of a way of googling this question.

Andy Zaltzman has, as always, signed off from The News Quiz by saying "I've been Andy Zaltzman". Many other comedians do a similar thing.

Who started this practice, and when? I assume someone once did it as a deliberate joke and it somehow caught on amongst the comedy fraternity, to the extent that it no longer seems incongruous. (I long ago lost the desire to yell back "yes and you still are, you blithering idiot" :-))

 
Pyriform
1381506.  Fri May 14, 2021 3:36 pm Reply with quote

Ben Elton was the first person I heard using the phrase, back in 1985 when he presented Friday Night Live on Channel 4 (though I used to watch it on S4C where it was shown in the early hours of Saturday morning (and not live, of course)).


Last edited by Pyriform on Fri May 14, 2021 3:41 pm; edited 1 time in total

 
crissdee
1381507.  Fri May 14, 2021 3:36 pm Reply with quote

I don't know the answer to that, but I suspect it's genesis was on US radio (it sounds like the sort of thing Kronkite or someone would say), but a spin off of sorts that I always find amusing is on a live recording I have of the Flying Pickets, the acapella group who were big in the 80s. At the beginning of the performance, one of them says;

"We're the Flying Pickets, you all know who you are!"

Makes me smile anyway...

 
Brock
1381509.  Fri May 14, 2021 3:49 pm Reply with quote

Pyriform wrote:
Ben Elton was the first person I heard using the phrase, back in 1985 when he presented Friday Night Live on Channel 4


That sounds extremely likely. "I've been Ben Elton, goodnight."

@crissdee: Assuming you mean Walter Cronkite, the CBS news anchor, his sign-off phrase was "And that's the way it is", followed by the date. It's unlikely that he would have used a comedy catchphrase.

 
Pyriform
1381510.  Fri May 14, 2021 3:59 pm Reply with quote

Brock wrote:

That sounds extremely likely. "I've been Ben Elton, goodnight."

Thinking about it a bit more, I started wondering if my mind is playing tricks on me, and looking at a couple of clips he seems to sign off with "My name's Ben Elton. Goodnight", so I suspect I'm totally wrong. (Now I remember why I lurk here more than I post.)

 
Jenny
1381513.  Fri May 14, 2021 4:04 pm Reply with quote

It was actually really nice to see you here Pyriform, and I'm glad you're still lurking :-)

 
Brock
1381539.  Sat May 15, 2021 4:55 am Reply with quote

Could it have been Mark Lamarr on Never Mind the Buzzcocks? This review from 2011 suggests it might have been:

The Independent wrote:
More lads on Never Mind the Buzzcocks (BBC2, Tues), a pop quiz show cloned from its stablemate They Think It's All Over. Presenter Mark Lamarr has laboured hard to compose a distinctive sign-off (as in "My name's Nick Hancock", "this is me Clive Anderson..."), and he's come up with "I've been Mark Lamarr", which jarrs [sic] as much as the show it rounds off.


https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/oestrogen-on-the-rampage-1352520.html

Mark Lamarr actually started hosting the show in 1996, though, so it apparently took the reviewer fifteen years to notice...

EDIT: Confirmation from YouTube (series 1, episode 4, first broadcast 3/12/96). At around 28:30:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GaxDaxUk-k

Doesn't prove that no one said it before him, of course.

 
crissdee
1381543.  Sat May 15, 2021 6:02 am Reply with quote

Brock wrote:
@crissdee: Assuming you mean Walter Cronkite, the CBS news anchor, his sign-off phrase was "And that's the way it is", followed by the date. It's unlikely that he would have used a comedy catchphrase.


The spelling I hold my hands up to, I thought it was "K" rather than "C". For the rest, I wasn't being specific, I just meant the sort of serious-faced chap in a sports jacket who is the stereotypical US presenter. It doesn't seem like that much of a "comedy catchphrase" to me, tbh.

 
Brock
1381544.  Sat May 15, 2021 6:19 am Reply with quote

crissdee wrote:
It doesn't seem like that much of a "comedy catchphrase" to me, tbh.


Really? I've only ever heard it used by comedians, and it's clearly not meant seriously. I'm guessing that it's a deliberate confusion of "I'm Joe Bloggs" and "this has been Joe Bloggs" (or something like that). If you take it literally, it's clearly nonsense since it suggests that the speaker is now someone other than Joe Bloggs. I can't imagine a serious journalist or presenter using it.

 
PDR
1381549.  Sat May 15, 2021 6:38 am Reply with quote

I've been going to stand-up gigs for over 40 years, and as far as I remember pretty well every aspiring hopeful has always signed off with "My name is <someone you've probably never heard of>, Goodnight!" in the hope that a producer will remember their name and book them.

The "I have been" construct I think is equally old - I remember it being used by several stand-ups who have a different on-stage name. For example I'm pretty sure Rik Mayall used to use it in his Kevin Turvey days. I can certainly remember it being used in the comedy clubs I frequented when I was in San Diego and Cedar Rapids.

PDR

 
Brock
1381551.  Sat May 15, 2021 6:48 am Reply with quote

PDR wrote:

The "I have been" construct I think is equally old - I remember it being used by several stand-ups who have a different on-stage name. For example I'm pretty sure Rik Mayall used to use it in his Kevin Turvey days.


Ah! Now that does make sense - Rik Mayall saying "I've been Kevin Turvey", i.e. "I've been [in the character of] Kevin Turvey [but no longer am]".

Somehow or other, though, stand-ups who aren't playing characters seem to have adopted it as well.

 
PDR
1381553.  Sat May 15, 2021 7:10 am Reply with quote

It's just a whacky phrase - like saying "it's been real, man!" with a 60s californian dope-head accent. It's not supposed to make much sense.

cf "and it's goodnight from him"

PDR

 
Leith
1381557.  Sat May 15, 2021 7:37 am Reply with quote

Brock wrote:
Somehow or other, though, stand-ups who aren't playing characters seem to have adopted it as well.

I think a lot of performers consider their stage persona to be an alter ego of sorts, even if they don't use a pseudonym.

As PDR says, though, it serves equally well just as a mildly comedic incongruity - not literally incorrect, but contextually odd enough to make the sign off a little more memorable.

 
Brock
1381558.  Sat May 15, 2021 8:20 am Reply with quote

Leith wrote:

As PDR says, though, it serves equally well just as a mildly comedic incongruity - not literally incorrect, but contextually odd enough to make the sign off a little more memorable.


Except that it no longer is, because it's become so widespread.

In my one and only attempt at performing comedy in front of an audience I signed off with "I've been <name>, and actually I still am - God knows why everyone says that". Which got a bigger laugh than most of the rest of my material :-)

 
PDR
1381560.  Sat May 15, 2021 8:27 am Reply with quote

It's a bit like those expressions which became popular amongst the 20s "flappers" - like "It's the cat's pyjamas" or "It's the bees knees". These never did mean anything literally, but the juxtaposition of words which are unrelated to themselves, the context or both to induce a mental stumble in the mind of the listener for comedic effect.

It may also once have been an obscure reference to the american waiter practice of introducing themselves as "I'm Zack and I'll be your server tonight". Or it may not.

I see marinaded frog steaks are back on the menu.

PDR

 

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