Mad inventor John Ward is a man of many parts, many of them going spare. He designed and built the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award trophies and I have occasionally booked him on TV shows.
One was in 1988 on the weekly ITV series Prove It! Participants had to ‘prove’ they could do something bizarre.
John now writes a weekly column for the Spalding Guardian newspaper and today he remembered fellow eccentric Chris Luby. Here are some of his memories:
The late Chris Luby was absolutely brilliant at ‘noise impressions’ such as a WW2 spitfire starting up, going down a runway and into battle, trains on the underground that to the untrained ear sounded very real plus many more.
I first met him some years ago when we both appeared on an ITV telly show called Prove It! presented by Chris Tarrant.
We both recorded the pilot show plus both appeared in the first episode while I appeared in the whole series on a thirteen week basis presenting assorted inventions and gadgets.
Day one was rehearsal day with everybody involved getting to know each other, then going through our paces plus a studio run-through, then – all those still breathing – off to our designated hotels for a clean-up before dinner.
I was on the same table as Chris (Luby) for dinner/supper and it was an experience sitting there, looking at the menu while hearing about The train now leaving platform whatever… and going through to Kings Cross station, with all the assorted sounds and voices.
He sat there, menu covering his face, making these noises and, apart from the fact they were ‘spot on’ and very realistic, my thoughts were: “Does he ever stop!?”
He was doing his impression of whatever plane it was as the waiter came over to us to ask if we were ready to order. I said we would, just as soon as my companion came in to land.
The look on the poor waiter’s face was a classic as he didn’t know what was going on but then nor did I… but I was learning – I hoped.
The first night we spent in the lounge bar area of the hotel and, yes, he carried on going like a good ‘un with his assorted impressions of objects and people.
Eventually it was off to bedtime and I did sleep very well all things considered as it had been a really long day.
So imagine being woken up the next morning by what sounded like a detachment of the Grenadier Guards at the bedroom door, ‘marching on the spot’ outside.
I know I had asked for an alarm call but this was pushing it a bit.
I then heard what could be called a sergeant major’s ‘rallying call’ or “Git ‘art of bed, you ‘orribel little man!!!” as it dawned on me (well, it was by then daylight) it could be only Chris Luby.
Does he ever stop? I asked myself.
His initial appearance had him in a Coldstream Guard’s uniform, coming through the middle of the stage curtains, making the sounds of a marching regiment… hobbling on crutches as he had broken his leg a week or so beforehand.
Culture didn’t come any better than this.
He used to perform about a twenty minute act consisting of assorted ‘sounds’ or noises, many military based and he made a decent living from it on the comedy circuit.
Sadly there is not much on the internet about him apart from the fact he passed away in January 2014 following an accident at his home when he tumbled downstairs.
That ended the life and sounds of ‘The Man of Many Noises’.
He wasn’t what you might call a ‘mainstream’ entertainer but anybody you mentioned his name to in ‘the show business’ always broke into a smile as they all seem to have a Chris anecdote.
He was one of those unique but talented people that, once met or seen, never forgotten.
SoundCloud has an audio clip of Chris Luby impersonating an RAF fly-past at the legendarily raucous church funeral of Malcolm Hardee in 2005…
…and YouTube has a clip of John Ward (though sadly not Chris Luby) on Prove It!
One response to “A fond memory of eccentric – and very noisy – comedy performer Chis Luby”
Ah !! TVS promised so much more but ……. just like HTV just like …… John i was going to phone chat with you regarding your last ‘So it Goes’. Why? Because it prompted memories, John. A recording made in 1934 – i remember the year for some reason – when Decca Records made a 78 rpm recording of a chap who made train ‘sounds’ via his mouth. No other body parts were used during the recording!! I bought a copy way back when and i still have it in my vast never opened for years box. I am sure it was called ‘Trains’ and the chap with the mouth with head of steam and wind was Reg …….. I must now stop, John.