David Tynan O’Mahony (6 July 1936 – 10 March 2005), better known as Dave Allen, was an Irish comedian and actor, perhaps best known for his 1970s BBC TV series, which saw him sitting in a studio – cigarette in hand, a glass of whiskey by his side – telling humorous, observational, sometimes acerbic stories, interspersed with sketches. He was famous – or infamous, depending on your viewpoint – for his mockery of religion, the Catholic church in particular. Many of his skits would probably not be done today in our times of heightened sensitivity towards / fear of religious offence.
So why is Dave Allen here on MOVIES and MANIA? Well, quite simply, his often included horror movie pastiches. It’s clear that this was a man with an affection for and appreciation of horror cinema. While other comedians may have donned the cape and fangs and camped about as comedy Draculas, Allen’s sketches were more nuanced.
Often, the humour didn’t become apparent until the punchline, and until that point, many of his skits – based around Hammer style gothic horror usually, sometimes involving a Death figure straight from The Seventh Seal and once mocking The Exorcist – were straight-faced, atmospheric and often creepier than many a genuine horror film.
Most of these sketches are (at best) gathering dust in the BBC vaults, but a few have been reshown over the years. Here is a couple.
Allen also told a couple of horror stories to his studio audience – again with comedy punchlines. These show that he could have easily been a narrator for traditional horror stories, his sense of the dramatic and his strong voice being perfect for the telling of spooky stories. The man was a natural storyteller.