Summer 2010 – Rock With Laughter


Rock with Laughter, starring Cannon and Ball along with Jake and Elwood. A mixture of comedy and a musical tribute to the Blues Brothers.

Dates and venues

Flyer 28th July Scarborough Futurist Theatre
29th July Skegness Embassy Theatre
1st August Cromer Pavilion Theatre
5th August Skegness Embassy Theatre
6th August Great Yarmough Britannia Theatre
8th August Hunstanton Princess Theatre
10th August Blackpool Opera House
11th August Scarborough Futurist Theatre
12th August Skegness Embassy Theatre
13th August Southend Palace Theatre
14th August Weymouth Pavilion Theatre
15th August Weston Super Mare Playhouse
16th August Torquay Princess Theatre
17th August Worthing Pavilion Theatre
19th August Skegness Embassy Theatre
20th August Great Yarmouth Britannia Theatre
23rd August Rhyl Pavilion Theatre
25th August Blackpool Opera House
26th August Skegness Embassy Center
27th August Felixstowe The Spa
28th August Exmouth The Pavilion
29th August Weymouth Pavilion Theatre
30th August Truro The Hall for Cornwall
3rd September Great Yarmouth Britannia Theatre

Newspaper articles

For Cannon and Ball it all comes full circle … especially comedy

East Riding Mail, 21st July 2010

After five decades in showbiz, Tommy Cannon has no problems spotting a trend.

The veteran performer, together with his braces-wearing sidekick, Bobby Ball, is part of Britain’s longest-running double act. And having seen whole comic empires rise and fall during the past 46 years, Tommy’s certain of one thing… there’s nothing new under the sun.

“You’ve got to get the new talent in, but comedy is a circle,” said the Selby-based comic. “You’ve got the starting point, which goes around ’till it dies, then someone sees it in the archives, thinks ‘that’s funny’ and it comes back again. I think we’ll see variety come back at some point, because everything comes back.”

Cannon and Ball, major TV stars during the 1980s, are returning to Scarborough’s Futurist Theatre next week.

Their show, which includes an appearance from the Blues Brothers impersonators, Jake and Elwood, sees the duo continue the comedy shtick which made their name. While Tommy is the smooth, ordered showman, Bobby is the tyke intent on causing chaos.

“It’s pretty much a guy, i.e me, on stage thinking he’s doing really well, when this little fellow turns up to spoil the format,” Tommy said.

“I think one of the best ways to keep it fresh is that we always enjoy what we are doing. When we’re on stage, we are having a giggle and that comes across to the audience.”

The duo, who continue to work 46 weeks a year, met during the ’60s, when they both worked as welders in their native Oldham.

“I think with a good double act you give and take – it’s like a marriage, really,” said Tommy. “You know each other that well, that you know immediately if there’s anything wrong. It’s an instinctive thing.”

That instinct has, if anything, been freed up by the fact they are no longer on TV.

“The thing was we couldn’t put new stuff in,” he said. “We had to put sketches in from the TV show – otherwise we would have people saying that we’d left out one of their favourite moments.

“It is a bit like being a recording artist in a way. If you went to see a show and they did not sing their hits you would be disappointed. Now we can put new stuff in to keep it fresh – it gives you a bit more freedom.”

Among the younger generation of comics, Tommy enjoys the work of Peter Kay.

“Peter’s very variety – rolly polly Peter,” Tommy said. He would have been a hit back when we were on TV.”

As he says, it all goes full circle.

“My daughters started to wear flares a couple of years back, but they couldn’t believe it when I told them I used to wear them in the 1970s,” Tommy said. They thought it was a new fashion – until I showed them a photo from the time. They were gobsmacked, they could not believe it.

“It just goes to show that everything comes around again.”

Bobby Still on the Ball

Western Morning News, 6th August 2010

“I can tell you now, he’s a prat,” said Bobby Ball on his long time comedy double Tommy Cannon. But if you said it, I would shout at you,” he said. “I can call him that — but no one else can. We have had our rows like any other couple has. He’s a mate. He’s a pal. But it’s deeper than that because I’ve been involved with him longer than the wife. There’s no sex involved here, but we are getting on fine.”

Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball are one of Britain’s funniest and most successful double acts. In their long career they have achieved a string of honours that puts them among the all-time greats of show business.

Bobby was born in Oldham and worked in the business from a young age. As he got older he got a ‘proper job’ and went to work as a welder, which is where he met Thomas Derbyshire. Bobby did some singing on the weekends and asked Tommy if he would like to go with him one weekend. From there the act developed gradually.

“We were singers, me and Tommy,” he said. “It’s funny, no matter what height or weight you were, you would always think you were a bit of a sex symbol as a singer.

“I was 5ft 4in, I didn’t have a lot of chances. I went into comedy, but only because people were laughing at me. Me and Tommy worked out that the comedians were getting £3 a week more than us at these gigs. That was a lot of money, the average wage for the week was £12. So we did a bit of comedy and we slowly got better and better.”

Their first television appearance came in 1968 when they entered Opportunity Knocks. During the 1970s they built a strong reputation around the UK cabaret club circuit for being a great live act. They also toured extensively around the hotel circuits of Australia and South Africa.

The pair went on to appear on television in their own series practically every year since 1979. They have also ‘guested’ on all the major shows, including Wogan, Parkinson, Des O’Connor, Sunday Night at the Palladium and numerous Royal Variety Shows.

Despite their success they refrained from going down the ‘blue’ route so many comics were heading. Bobby said that, in the end, it served them better.

“In Manchester every week they have stag shows. Blue didn’t suit me and Tommy. “All this effin’ and jeffin’ didn’t work for us. They put us on for these stag shows, and because we were clean it made a bit of a break for the lads, so we stood out.

“If you go out and see five comics effin’ and jeffin’ you get bored. It worked very well for us. It were fantastic, like. We tried it once and it didn’t work at all. People like a bit of shouting, but that’s about it.

“Talking about shouting, in the 1980s people starting booing Tommy on stage. He hated it. He said ‘why are they booing me?’ and I said ‘Tom, don’t worry, it’s working’. He said ‘but I don’t like it’, and I said ‘just look at your wage packet’. Later on, he said ‘I’m getting to like getting booed’.”

Now aged 72 and 66, Cannon and Ball are about to embark on another national tour. For Rock With Laughter, which comes to Torquay’s Princess Theatre on August 16, they have teamed up with The Blues Brothers.

“It’s a brand new show for me and him,” Bobby said. But we know each other so well now that we rehearse a few times and then that’s it, we are right.

“It’s a fantastic show, really energetic. It’s a lively show, for sure. Of course Tommy can’t hear it because he’s turned his deaf aid off, but he’ll be all right.

“I hadn’t seen The Blues Brothers before. They came and did a charity show for me and the wife and it were fantastic.

“The stage is full. We have an 11-piece band, two girl singers who are absolutely fantastic, and then there’s Jake and Elwood, me and Tommy. It’s a rocking show. We are going to rock the place.”


The Big Issue in Wales, 7th September 2010

Your new show’s called Rock With Laughter, what can audiences expect?
Bobby Ball: We’ve been working with the Blues Brothers, they did a show with us and they blew mine and Tommy’s socks off. They asked us to do a tour with them. We get involved and sing some songs. We’re in Skegness at the moment, it’s our sort of place…

You love performing, do you dislike touring?
Tommy Cannon: It’s something we’ve always done – they’ve always been hard work. I’m still only 55, I’ve still got a lot of energy. Bob is 66 and he struggles a bit, but there doesn’t seem to be too much difference now than how we were 20 years ago.

You met each other in the early 1960s in Oldham. What were your first impressions?
Tommy: Bob was the first person to speak to me out of 500 men on the shop floor. We went and had a couple of pints and became instant mates. A few months down the line I asked, if he fancied making it a double act.
Bobby: Tommy was the only one at work who had a car so we asked him to come out with us so we could pull the birds. That’s what did it.

Was it strange that at the height of your success in the 1980s you weren’t on speaking terms?
Bobby: Success can be quite empty. Suddenly me and Tommy went from nowhere to touring all over the country. We were thrown into the limelight and got a bit egotistical so eventually stopped talking. But that were for just three years – we’ve been together 47 years in total.

Does it feel like a marriage sometimes?
Bobby: It’s more than a marriage, I see Tommy more than I do my own wife. All I can say about a partnership like this is that I’ll either bury Tommy or he will bury me. It’s a double act thing, Morecambe and Wise had it too.

Where does the desire to keep touring come from?
Tommy: We’re not doing it to beat anyone’s record; I don’t even know if we are the longest serving double act. Off the top of my head I’d say we were probably, Eric and Ernie didn’t manage 47 years. But it’s not about beating other folk.

What comedy do you enjoy?
Tommy: I like Lee Evans and that lad from Bolton [Peter Kay] is brilliant, his stuff is like variety performance from the old school. I like Alan Carr – he’s like Larry Grayson from way back.

Are you silver surfers?
Bobby: I am on Facebook, I love it mate. I’m sick of flicking through stuff on telly, there’s nowt on to watch. I’d rather be online talking to friends.
Tommy: Let me tell you about television – it’s very educational. As soon as it’s switched on I go read a book.