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Belfast's 'king of one-liners' Jackie Geddis loses cancer fight

By Lesley Houston

Published 13/01/2016

Comedian Jackie Geddis, who has died in his 80s
Comedian Jackie Geddis, who has died in his 80s

Belfast comedian Jackie Geddis, affectionately dubbed the "king of the one-liners" has died.

The performer, who was in his early 80s, died of cancer following a short battle with the disease.

A former regular of the city's comedy scene in the 1970s, he was a contemporary of Frank Carson and Gene Fitzpatrick, whom he counted among his many friends.

Geddis was among the line-up of local funnymen and women who drew crowds at Belfast's hotels, dance halls and cabaret clubs.

He shared stages with the likes of Crawford Howard, Marjorie Rea, Jimmy Kennedy, Sammy Mackey, Gerry Millar, Sammy McClure, Jackie Wright and mime artist acts Connie Stewart and George Carroll.

He was later a frequent warm-up act for the Kelly Show in the 1980s.

Jackie, who was a clerk with Mackie's textiles in Belfast, which closed in 1999, saw no need for profanity to tickle the funny bones of his audiences.

In December 1976, this paper described him in a report as "a quick-fire gagman making a major reputation" for himself.

Close friend and comedian, Gene Fitzpatrick, who knew Jackie for 40 years, first met him at a pub in Rathfriland.

"He was like a machine gun with jokes, he barely took a breath in between," the 70-year-old said.

"He just stood up on a makeshift stage and he told jokes non-stop.

"He was brilliant and very, very modest and a quiet man. He was lovely and very quick-witted.

"Everything about him was great fun and his act was always very clean.

"I rang him on Christmas Day past when I heard he was ill, and every day after that. On Christmas morning he told me he had nothing to complain about, as he had lived his life on a velvet cushion.

"That's a lovely attitude from a man who knew that his time was very short. He then went into hospital a few days later.

"Unfortunately he died and it's very sad. He was a great man.

"He's a man who could have stood up in front of any crowd at any hour of day and have done his act to perfection. He had a great memory.

"Everyone loved him and he travelled anywhere in the province.

"He was well-regarded in showbusiness."

Singer Harry Beckinsale, who shared a stage with Geddis, described him as the "cleanest comedian" of the time.

"There was no swearing, no profanity and no dirty jokes, but he was very funny," he said.

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