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Great comedy … no strings attached

IT'S time to play the music, it's time to light the lights.

It's time to ... go on, admit it, you're singing along in your head, aren't you?

Being of a certain vintage, that song - the theme from the Muppet Show - seemed to leap off the front page of The Herald yesterday when I read that the Glasgow International Comedy Festival will be staging a gala screening of the gang's latest movie, Disney's Muppets Most Wanted, on the 21st of this month.

This will be the film's Scottish premiere, and tickets, which will be free, will be available from the festival's website.

Younger readers may know the Muppets only from their movies. This will be their eighth cinema outing (the first was The Muppet Movie in 1979; 1992's The Muppet Christmas Carol was recently voted the fourth best festive movie of all time in a poll on RadioTimes.com), but my mind immediately jumps back to their seminal TV series which made Sunday teatimes bearable in the late 1970s.

Like the Morecambe & Wise Show, anyone who was anyone wanted to be on it - guest stars included such luminaries as Paul Simon, Spike Milligan, Steve Martin, Julie Andrews, Elton John and Shirley Bassey.

I have long held the theory that there is a Muppet in all of us. A glance at my byline picture will show that I bear more than a passing resemblance to Gonzo, but I've always regarded myself as being more in the Fozzie Bear mould, though, admittedly, his jokes are better than mine (sample: "Did I tell you the one about the man with the light bulb in his nose? He was light headed. Get it? Wocka wocka wocka").

At various times I have considered myself akin to the pleasant but put-upon Kermit, or even Beaker, the long-suffering victim of the excesses of his superiors. Friends who sit beside me at Easter Road will tell you I'm more like Statler and Waldorf, the cynical forerunners of Grumpy Old Men, rolled into one ("Hey you old fool, you slept through the show." "Who's the fool? You watched it"). Notice, though, that I am cursed with a passion for the Hibs; I think I can be excused.

And after a libation or two, I can sound like the Swedish chef. I'll say something like "Hirgy birgy flumpen-burk" when what I intended was "Sorry I'm late, dear, I was kept late at work, which meant I missed the bus and I had to wait ages for a taxi."

Ah well, all together, now: Mahna, mahna ...

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