The Hysteria comedy shows were fund-raising benefits for the Terrence Higgins Trust. Established in 1982 and named after one of the first AIDS patients to die in the UK, the trust is Britain’s leading HIV and AIDS charity and the largest in Europe. The first Hysteria was produced by Stephen Fry in 1987. Hysteria 2, also produced by Fry, followed in 1989. The 1989 show was broadcast on Channel 4 along with a Terrence Higgins Trust fundraising telethon.
Hysteria 3 was recorded at a live performance at the London Palladium in 1991 and later released as a DVD. The Terrence Higgins Trust gets a cut from every DVD sold. Hosted again by Fry, the comedy revue included Rowan Atkinson, Jools Holland, Eddie Izzard, Ben Elton, Edwin Starr, Elton John, Steven Wright, Ruby Wax, Julian Clary, and Hugh Laurie. Our video from Hysteria 3 is classic British humour. Atkinson plays an interviewer who compulsively takes the Mickey out of Elton John’s name.
Reginald Dwight, known professionally as Elton John, struggles to keep a sufficiently straight face as Rowan Atkinson obsessively questions him on the wisdom of having a Christian name as a surname. Shouldn’t it be John Elton, rather, Atkinson Rowan suggests, as he relentlessly approaches the same gag from many angles. Battling not to smile or suppressing a laugh, John Elton tries to mask his reactions as pained tolerance. This adds both charm and tension to the act. Will John Elton keep it together until the payoff? He does, the skit works, and Elton gets to call Rowan a “head dick”, which has nothing to do with the 17th Century Irish author, Richard Head.
Borbonico Napoli observes, “Atkinson was able to keep an entire sketch on just one gag. Truly hilarious!” D Hollywood comments: “I love how Elton tries to play angry but can’t help laughing.” H1tchcock940 enthuses: “One of the greatest comedians of all time and one of the greatest singers of all time sitting together. Simply brilliant!” ust4facts-tamil305 opinions, “Rowan Atkinson is an example of how comedy can be done without any adult content in it”. The same is not always true of Elton John:
That was the message that Elton John sent in his absence to the British Comedy Awards in 2005. To end this article with a bang, why don’t we look at a British Comedy Award Show when Elton John turned up in person? This video is from the 2000 Award ceremony when Alan Partridge/Steve Coogan and Elton John performed a duet of Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, John’s 1976 hit with Kiki Dee. Enjoy: