// you’re reading...


Roy “Mo” Rene p4

The co-writer of Mo’s Memoirs continues an account of Gamblers All, a sketch that starred Roy “Mo” Rene…

“You know, I’m teetotal myself,” says the Commissioner of Police.

“Oh,” says Mo in that voice which rises to a weird soprano, continuing “You don’t gamble?” “No,” says the Police Commissioner. “You don’t go out with bad women?” “Oh, no,” replies the Police Commissioner.

“Well, do you smoke” says Mo exhibiting half anger at the policeman’s lack of vices and half the approval of a clerical gentleman. “No,” says the Police Commissioner. “I don’t smoke, drink, swear, gamble, or go out with bad women.”

Mo immediately shoots him. “Why did you shoot him?” screams his congregation as it gathers round the prostrate body.

“He was too bloody good to live,” says Mo, with the palms of his hands upraised in a typical gesture…

Some things about this sketch are a little disturbing. But it gives an idea of the format of a skit or farce that might cap off a modern vaudeville show: some character doing something dodgy and complications building up for them, until they’re finally caught and it all comes undone. Sort of like Fawlty Towers.

It’d be nice to see Vaudeville reinvented and make a big comeback. The closest thing to it these days would probably be something like Saturday Night Live on tv. But it’d be good to see more live vaudeville shows. They could follow the traditional format of a vaudeville show, with a series of different acts, with a farce at the end. The acts would have to be to modern tastes, of course, although some recent trends would be best avoided. The presenter and the performers could all be playing over-the-top characters rather than themselves. Ideally stand-up comedians are in-character anyway, with the gags tailor-made for that character. But you could really go over the top, turning a night of vaudeville into something like The Rocky Horror Picture Show. If the acts were good, and the prices were cheap, and the venue was right, people would probably attend. 

-See Mo’s Memoirs by Roy Rene, published by Reed and Harris, Melbourne, 1945.