G&TV: Arthur Smith Sings Andy Williams Quickies Posted by Ian Symes on 30th September 2020, 15:57 One of the many, many good things about Rob Grant, Paul Jackson and Ed Bye’s regular Sunday afternoon quarantine commentaries is that their meandering conversations about comedy and their careers can sometimes dredge up intriguing lesser-known projects from the past. When Arthur Smith was a guest on the Backwards commentary, he mentioned one of his old Edinburgh shows, Arthur Smith Sings Andy Williams, which also featured fellow Backwards guest and perennial fifth Dwarfer Tony Hawks. A truncated TV version was produced by Granada in 1993, which commenter Stilianidiadidatees suggested would make a good candidate for G&TV. Don’t say we never give you anything. It’s on YouTube, and it’s pretty great. To say too much would spoil many of the surprises, but if you’re not yet intrigued enough to press play, here’s the gist. Arthur Smith presents a mostly truthful lecture on the life of art critic, boxer and poet Arthur Cravan, which is interspersed, as the title suggests, by performances of Andy Williams hits, done with a completely straight face but rendered amusing in various unpredictable ways. It’s only towards the end that these two disparate elements converge, in a wonderfully post-modern and nonsensical way. Tony Hawks plays a much bigger part than I was expecting. He’s ostensibly there as the pianist, but also reads out quotes during the lecture parts and breaks character from time to time, bigging up his role and deconstructing the show as it unfolds. The whole thing is an archetypal example of alternative comedy at its purest, masterminded by one of its original and still one of its finest practitioners. Further reading: this 2017 interview with Arthur, looking back on the show and expanding on his fascination with Cravan.