THE EARLY WORD: Here Comes The Goon Squad


Before Monty Python invaded television, The Goon Show – famed not only for its surreal humor, puns, and catchphrases but also for its groundbreaking sound effects – made an entire nation laugh week after week. The Goons met in the 1940s, and like many of the post war entertainers, they all began performing while serving in World War II. Running from 1951 – 1960, the show changed the face of British comedy and greatly influenced Python, the Beatles, and many others. Monty Python star Michael Palin has said, “For me, the Goons were to comedy what Elvis was to music.” John Cleese declared writer Spike Milligan “the Great God to us all.”

With Ying Tong, UK playwright Roy Smiles delves into the mind of Goon writer and “godfather of alternative comedy” Spike Milligan who is going gaga from the strain of creating comic genius. Wild fantasies of Jewish leprechauns, gay Vikings, and malevolent Morris dancers are springing from his fragmented brain. Fellow Goons, the future Dr. Strangelove Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, and announcer Wallace Greenslade, scramble to recover Milligan’s missing marbles and save his sanity. Ying Tong took England by storm when it premiered in London. The Sunday Times wrote, “The show has an invigorating spirit of insanity. I recommend it with relish!”

The Wilma Theater is thrilled to present the U.S. Premiere of Ying Tong – A Walk With the Goons by UK playwright, Roy Smiles, and directed by Wilma co-Artistic Director, Jiri Zizka. Ying Tong – A Walk With the Goons chronicles the story of the famous BBC Radio comedy series The Goon Show and its surge from cult status to raving success, showcasing the series’ trademark surrealism and profound silliness. The show begins previews on February 13, opens on February 20, and closes on March 16, 2008. Tickets are $37-$52 and are available by calling the Wilma Box Office at (215) 546-7824 or online at

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