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Big Vern

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Big Vern is a character in the British adult-comedy comic Viz.

Big Vern is a parody of London mobsters such as the Kray twins. He is a heavily built, square-jawed man with very short hair, sunglasses, a heavy trench coat and a grizzled look. He is referred to in at least one story as Mr Dakin, a nod to the character Vic Dakin played by Richard Burton in the 1971 gangster film Villain. The humor of the strip centres around Vern mistaking normal and innocent activities (such as a trip to the supermarket) for criminal escapades, such as armed robberies or kidnappings. He always hangs around with his friend Ernie, an easy-going and normal man who is perplexed by Vern's conviction that he and Ernie are both mobsters. Vern speaks with a strong cockney accent, and his speech is phonetic (for example, he would say arf and fackin' instead of half and fucking respectively.)

It is not clear whether Vern really is a gangster, a former gangster, or simply someone with a severe delusion about being one. He never seems to associate with real criminals, only Ernie, yet he does seem to know a lot about armed robberies, has no hesitation in killing people and has a seemingly endless supply of firearms. The punchline of nearly every strip is that Vern mistakes someone - such as a traffic warden, an old lady or even Prince Charles - for an armed policeman. He shouts "Get dahn Ernie, he's got a piece" or words to such effect, before shooting that person dead. He then kills himself to ensure he won't go to jail ("No bastard copper's gonna take me alive!"), having just killed Ernie under the belief that Ernie would also want to be dead rather than go to prison (even though Ernie has done nothing wrong).

With no regard for continuity, Vern and Ernie are always resurrected in time for the next episode. In recent escapades Vern, for some reason, has not killed Ernie - instead, he accuses Ernie of "setting him up" and then kills himself as usual.

In another strip, Vern and Ernie go to stay at a hotel. Vern is convinced that it is a prison, and after slopping out and decorating his room (which he believes is a cell) with pictures from pornographic magazines, he announces his intention of muscling in on the snout racket and denounces a fellow guest as a nonce "it could have been your kids Ernie, let me at him", etc. He then goes stir crazy and launches a rooftop protest, sitting on the roof of the hotel and demanding better conditions. The final prison stereotype shows Vern sodomising Ernie in the shower claiming that "he hadn't see a woman for a long time".

One episode has Vern on a minicab journey to the airport, as Ernie has persuaded him to accompany him on a holiday to Majorca. Predictably Vern believes that they are fleeing "the Smoke" and heading for the Costa del Crime in order the evade justice. Vern is paranoid that other cars on the motorway are either full of tailing police officers or avenging members of the criminal fraternity. "Watch yer back, Ernie. We got company." So Ernie turns in the passenger seat to observe the vehicle behind them. It's an innocent little van bearing the legend George's Fruit Shop on the side.

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