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Chris Langham (b. 1949) is a writer, comedian, and actor who wrote for The Muppet Show, beginning in the third season.

Early career

Before The Muppet Show, Langham had been a writer/performer on the first season of the seminal British sketch show Not the Nine O'Clock News, known for being the first vehicle for Rowan Atkinson. In the second season, Langham was replaced by Griff Rhys Jones, and his parts were significantly cut from later video and DVD releases. Langham later contributed to and appeared on sketch series Alas Smith and Jones, one of Rhys Jones' many projects with fellow Not alum Mel Smith.

As a comic performer, Langham had a taste for the bizarre -- performing, for example, a trapezeless trapeze-act which featured himself and a colleague running back and forth across the stage, grasping and releasing each other's hands. Another solo piece was a tongue-in-cheek lecture on "How to speak Japanese" in which he pointed out that the three key elements of the Japanese language were to be cold, constipated, and forgetful. "Cold, Constipated, and Forgetful, it's an old Cole Porter song."

The Muppet Show

Langham was hired by Jim Henson on the recommendation of Muppet Show guest star John Cleese. Henson was looking to tap into the wacky, off-the-wall school of British humor that derived from The Goon Show and Monty Python. As a comedian, Langham shared that sensibility, having worked with not only the Pythons but also Goon Show creator Spike Milligan, another Muppet Show guest. During the hiring process he was asked to write scripts for three sketches: an At the Dance, a monologue for Fozzie, and a backstage plot. He also contributed to episode 220 before joining the writing staff full-time in season three.[1]

Langham received two awards from the American Writers' Guild for his work on The Muppet Show. His inclusion on the writing staff resulted in some inspired bits of silliness, typified by Louis Kazagger's description of the bagpipe as "one of the deadliest creatures known to man."[cite] Another concept attributed to Langham was the entire Muppet Theatre shoving off to sea in episode 507.[cite] He wrote lyrics for the songs "Hey Down" and "Gonzo's Song".

In the show's fifth season, Langham became a last-minute replacement for Richard Pryor, who had been scheduled to appear as a guest. In the episode, he performed several pieces of his own devising, including a card trick in which the cards were replaced by raw sausages ("Now I will ask you to memorize that sausage"), as well as singing a Hawaiian war chant while trapped inside his dressing room wardrobe. He also performed the self-devised Time Machine sketch, a frantic short monologue which he performed in a white lab coat with Muppet-like enthusiasm.

Other work

Other notable credits include his award-winning performance as Roy Mallard in breakthrough mockumentary series People Like Us, first on BBC radio and then on television. In 1979, Langham was Arthur Dent in the first professional stage adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In the same year, he appeared in Monty Python's Life of Brian. He wrote the BBC sitcom Kiss Me Kate and directed the Richard E. Grant TV vehicle Posh Nosh. In 2005, Langham starred in the political sitcom In The Thick of It and as the psychiatrist in Help, a vehicle for Fast Show star Paul Whitehouse. As a West End actor, his credits in stage musicals include The Pirates of Penzance (appearing alongside The Muppet Show performer Louise Gold at Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 1982) and the original London cast of Crazy For You (at The Prince Edward Theatre in 1993).

Muppet credits

Sources

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