I wear a fez now…

“It’s a fez, I wear a fez now.  Fezzes are cool.”

Well, The Doctor’s right, fezzes are cool.  Many of us have known this for years, way before the 11th Doctor, played by Matt Smith, said so in The Big Bang.  Never mind that the fez has perfectly serious Ottoman origins (by which I mean it’s from Turkey, not from a big toy box with a padded lid – although, thinking about it, if I had one, I’d probably use it as a dressing up box), no one in the world can wear one without looking mad or hilarious.

I’ve been a happy fez owner since the mid 1990s, when my sister brought me one back from holiday.  I couldn’t have been more grateful, I’d always wanted one.

For us non-Turks, it’s an instant comedy prop and mine was, as Eric Idle used to say, guaranteed to break the ice at parties.  Most of the time, it lies gathering dust in my wardrobe, biding its time, but since The Doctor wore his, my mega Doctor Who-fan daughter has become a huge fan of this most esteemed headgear.

It got me thinking about the fez’s value to popular culture down the decades.  We automatically think of the great Tommy Cooper, perhaps the best-known fez wearer in entertainment.  For Cooper, it was only part of an ensemble; the tux, the hair, that incredible face, and the genius comic timing that made his silly gags and deliberately terrible magic tricks so brilliantly, eternally funny.  He was one of the few comedians in history who was absolutely guaranteed to set the audience off simply by walking onstage.  But he and his fez are synonymous and were practically inseparable.

Then there’s the great Kevork Malikyan, of Mind Your Language fame, who was resplendent (and unintentionally hilarious) in his fez as Kazim in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

And who could forget the mysterious and magical Shopkeeper from Mr Benn?  A true legend in his own costume boutique.

Finally, how about the brilliant video for Madness’s Nightboat to Cairo?

See, I love fezzes.  Thankfully, they’re everywhere.  And they really are cool.


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