This CD features recordings of jokes, monologues and songs originally made for Columbia and Regal records between 1926 and 1935. Most were reissued by Topic Records on a long-playing record in 1978, with this CD version having all 19 tracks issued in 2000. The title of the CD ‘Almost a Gentleman’ is taken from his billing when performing on stage.

He appeared wearing ill-fitting evening dress; his collar and tie askew and army boots. He also adopted his trademark black stick-on moustache.

William Robertson Russell Bennett was born in Glasgow in 1887 and died in Blackpool in 1942. His father, John, performed in Music Halls, but Billy only took to the stage after distinguished service with the 16th lancers during the First World War.

He was first and foremost a successful comedian performing live, but he appeared in a few short films and made the records of some of his most famous material.

He was a wordsmith, with a gift for delivering terrible, but clever puns and spouting absolute nonsense as if it had veracity. He specialised in lampooning Victorian poems and songs. For example, ‘The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God’ was transformed in to ‘The Green Tie on the Little Yellow Dog’

Billy was a comedian of his time and today some of his humour would be regarded as racist and not politically correct, but, undoubtedly, he was very funny.

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More information:

Date 1920s, 1930s, 2000s
Material(s) PlasticMetal
Item number MBPO100

Questions to help you remember using this item

  • What memories, if any, do you have of Billy Bennett?
  • Can a recording be as funny as seeing a comedian perform live?
  • Which comedians have you seen on stage?
  • Have you read or learned any of the original Victorian verses parodied on the record? If so when?
  • Can you think of later comedians who may have been influenced by Billy?

User Stories

I must confess I had not heard of Billy Bennett before this CD was brought to my attention, but having now heard the record online, I was reminded of later comedians, including Spike Milligan. I also thought of the earlier nonsense rhymes of Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll.

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