In the following 4-minute video, much-loved British comedian Tommy Cooper performs one of his most famous and funniest sketches, that of a ventriloquist entertainer down on his luck while on board a cruise ship. In the style to which Cooper had become accustomed throughout his illustrious, albeit alcohol-stricken, career, his performance is one of clumsiness, slapstick humour, and a struggle from beginning to end to complete his routine without a hitch.
Despite being part of the Magic Circle, it became apparent early on in Tommy Cooper’s career as a magician that a magic trick fumbled and failing was as effective and funny as one performed effortlessly and without faults. It was from that moment on that Cooper’s “new and improved” persona would take shape: an unfortunate magician with an array of poorly performed tricks and an iconic red fez placed on a head of scruffy hair. He would come to wow the nation with an act that was, above all, sincere and free of coarseness.
On April 15, 1984, he collapsed on stage and died of a heart attack while on live television.