Jimmy Cricket has paid a warm and glowing tribute to fellow comedian and great friend Frank Carson who died this week aged 85.
Frank, who like Jimmy was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, passed away on Wednesday after battling ill health for some time.
Famous for his comic sayings “it’s a cracker” and “it’s the way I tell ’em”, Frank rose to prominence in the 60s after winning Opportunity Knocks.
He leaves a wife, Ruth, daughter Majella and sons Tony and Aidan, and 10 grandchildren.
Belfast City Council has opened a book of condolence in Frank’s memory.
Jimmy said: “There are some comedians who can read a telephone directory and make it sound funny. Frank was one of them. His inflection of voice, facial expressions and delivery could make the oldest gags seem fresh and hilarious.
“He was quite inspirational to the likes of me. I saw him leave Northern Ireland and make it big in the UK and this motivated me to do the same.
“I actually headed for Liverpool and presented myself at the office of his then agent, Ernie Mack. He gave me a warm welcome but explained I needed experience. He then rang his star comedian and asked him there and then to have a word with me.
“Frank said: ‘Try and work every night, even if it’s for nothing. That way you’ll polish up your jokes by putting a word in here and leaving a word out there.’
“Looking back now on that telephone conversation 45 years on, I now see it was a masterclass on how to be a stand-up comedian. When it was over I said: ‘Well Frank, thanks for your advice.’ He said: ‘It’s not advice you want, it’s money!’
“Frank was one of the funniest comedians there ever was both on and off the stage. He spent his life cheering people up and his enthusiasm was unstoppable. He lit up every room he went into.
“He could do his act in a hotel, chat to everybody until two in the morning and be the first one up for breakfast.
“His was a tireless fundraiser for worthy causes and one of his proudest possessions was the Order of the Knighthood of St Gregory. This was bestowed on him by Pope John Paul II in recognition of his work for charity.
“Like a singer has hit tunes, Frank had hit jokes that people wanted to hear over again.
“Because quite simply it was the way he told them.”
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