A £2.6m public art and seaside regeneration project created by artist Gordon Young, with typography by Why Not Associates. The Comedy Carpet is a homage to the entertainment heritage of Blackpool and also a stage for popular entertainment that celebrates entertainment itself. It’s a celebration of comedy on a vast scale, referring to the work of more than 1,000 comedians and comedy writers, the carpet gives visual form to jokes, songs and catchphrases dating from the early days of variety to the present. Sited in front of Blackpool Tower, the 2,200m2 work of art contains over 160,000 granite letters cut out from black and red granite and cobalt blue concrete embedded into concrete, pushing the boundaries of public art and typography to their limits. Designed in a cross shape, the carpet links the entrance of the Blackpool Tower to the beach and connects the north and south sides of the promenade. Laid out in a grid pattern in strips of 10 slabs each, the work, comprising 320 slabs, can be read in different directions, from close up and from the top of the tower, with the font varying in size from a few centimetres to over a metre.
- The Comedy Carpet is divided into strips dedicated to different comedians and writers from the stage, TV, radio, film and records. At the centre of the carpet are five strips, each consisting of 10 slabs, which include material from comedians: Morecambe and Wise, Ken Dodd, Les Dawson, Frankie Howerd and Tommy Cooper.
- The southern square celebrates contemporary comedians, famous double acts, television and radio programmes and includes one that showcases Barry Humphries, Tony Hancock, Spike Milligan, and Peter Kay.
- The northern square (nearest the new Festival House) includes a strip dedicated to Monty Python and one to The Two Ronnies. Regional and international comedians are showcased in this section as well as celebrated catch phrases and a pre-war historical section.
- On the western square (nearest the sea) are strips dedicated to Billy Connolly, Peter Cook and Victoria Wood along with more television references, further celebrated catchphrases and recent history. Around the edge of the carpet are the names of hundreds of comedians, writers, double acts and groups that have appeared on stage in Blackpool over the last 100 years or who are of national significance.
The Comedy Carpet was launched on October 10th 2011 and commissioned by Blackpool Council as part of the multi-million pound regeneration of the sea front including vital sea defence works. It was funded by CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) as part of it’s Sea Change programme.
Images: The Comedy Carpet. Gordon Young / Why Not Associates.; The Krankies on The Comedy Carpet. Photos: Angela Catlin