Comedy Sketches

Running an office is a comedy sketch by Harry Tate. It was popular on radio right up until the 1960’s when television replaced radio as a popular entertainment medium for situation comedy sketches of this type.

Below is an animated version of ‘Running an Office‘.

“Harry Tate’ was born Ronald Macdonald Hutchison (4 July 1872 – 14 February 1940), but professionally known as Harry Tate, was an English comedian who performed both in the music halls and in films. Tate worked for Henry Tate & Sons, Sugar Refiners before going on the stage, and took his stage name from t
Tate made his debut at the Oxford Music Hall in 1895, and became well known for his impressions of performers such as Dan Leno, George Robey, and Eugene Stratton. Success came with his comedy sketch, Motoring, in which he played the part of a new car owner trying to repair it. His other sketches included Running an Office, Billiards and Fishing. Several catch phrases he used became popular in Britain in the twentieth century, including “Goodbye-eee”, “How’s your Father” (used as an escape clause when he was unable to answer a question) and “I don’t think”, used sarcastically (as in “He’s a nice chap – I don’t think”). He used his bristling moustache to express all kinds of emotion by twitching or moving it.

Tate was a proud member of the Grand Order of Water Rats serving as “King Rat” in 1911.[
In February 1940 Tate suffered a stroke and died, aged 67, shortly after; while in bed between the two events he told reporters that he had been injured during an air raid, and because they failed to realise that he was joking this is often given as the cause of his death. He is buried at St Mary’s, Northolt. For a time, his son Ronnie continued the act as Harry Tate junior.


This is one of the earliest of Harry Tate’s comedy sketches.


Weasel words

A sketch deriding the use of meaningless weasel – ‘Buzz” words that are used for effect – especially by so called environmental ‘experts’


Will Hay Comedian

William Thomson Hay FRAS (6 December 1888 – 18 April 1949) was an English comedian, actor, author, film director and amateur astronomer who came to notice for his theatrical sketch as a jocular schoolmaster, known as Dr. Muffin. The acts in which Hay performed the schoolmaster sketch became known as “The Fourth Form at St. Michael’s”. Hay toured with act and appeared in America, Canada, Australia and South Africa. From 1934 to 1943, he was a prolific film star in Britain, and was ranked the third highest grossing star at the British Box Office in 1938, behind George Formby and Gracie Fields.

Hay worked with Gainsborough Pictures from 1935 to 1940, during which time he developed a partnership with Graham Moffatt, an insolent overweight schoolboy, and Moore Marriott, a toothless old man. Hay’s 1937 film, with Moffatt and Marriott, Oh, Mr. Porter! was credited by The Times as being “a comic masterpiece of the British cinema”.

Hay often portrayed incompetent authority figures who attempted to conceal their incompetence but whose true traits were exposed by those around him.
He is often compared to W. C. Fields, who portrayed characters similar to that of

Hay was also an amateur astronomer, and in 1933 gained fame for discovering a Great White Spot on Saturn. He built his own observatory, and was a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Gerard Hoffnung (22 March 1925 – 28 September 1959) was an artist and musician, best known for his humorous works.

Raised in Germany, Hoffnung was brought to London as a boy, to escape the Nazis. Over the next two decades in England, he became known as a cartoonist, tuba player, impresario, broadcaster and raconteur.

In 1956 Hoffnung mounted the first of his “Hoffnung Festivals” in London, at which classical music was spoofed for comic effect, with contributions from many eminent musicians. As a broadcaster he appeared on BBC panel games, where he honed the material for one of his best-known performances, his speech at the Oxford Union in 1958.


The story was part of his speech in a debate called Life Begins at 38 and was recorded by the BBC.[The tale itself was not, Ingrams comments, especially funny, but “[Hoffnung’s] manner and delivery reduced his audience to hysterics”

Hoffnung first saw the story in The Manchester Guardian in 1957; the version printed there is identical with the text used by Hoffnung, except for the location, which he changed from Barbados to Golder’s Green.