Laughter (1)

Is  it just me ? ….No I don’t think so .I might have a highly developed sense of the absurd, having spent a lifetime reading all the “wrong” books and watching all the “wrong” films. I do think I have a fairly highly developed sense of humour …even if it is a little dark at times . I find myself clutching my writhing innards and laughing uproariously out loud at the daftest and strangest things. I’m not talking “chuckling” here…. I mean weeping tears  of abandon.

When I see John Cleese beating the tar out of a parked car with part of a tree… or sending up bowler-hatted authority with his  Ministry of Funny Walks….or when Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson set- to and knock seven shades out of each other with frying pans and perfectly timed, exaggerated sound effects . …I simply laugh very loudly to the point of tears….Or when Phil Silvers makes a fool out of the US Army ,while as  his Sgt Bilko character , he fast- tracks,speed patters  and inducts a chimpanzee into the all the way. {The chimp lifts the phone and Bilko says …”Look , he’s phoning his lawyer!”}

I find it very , very funny . Laurel and Hardy were masters at this kind of slapstick too. A lot of it involves violent mayhem, you’ll notice , but millions laugh at it and with it. It’s what I’d call the “Whistling past the graveyard ” syndrome and funnily enough , it is probably what all humour is actually based on .We’d rather laugh than cry , I suppose. “We”, meaning us ,wee, chattering , hairless human apes.

Why am I even bothering to mention any of this  at all ? Good comedy requires timing. pace and a lot of indefineables. There’s plenty of rubbish comedy and copyist comedians about so it’s not all good, but when it is , it is very apparent.

What set me off?….., you’re probably scratching your head and  asking by now. Well , I’m pointing out , for one thing, that humour is our safety valve and anything that makes us laugh should be allowed. Fun has been made of the most awful of human behaviour; should it be the “Life of Brian” or “Oh What a lovely War”. These are both based on human tragedies but they are played for laughter and laughs, to take the sting out of the horror and to point out some valid human  truths.

A comedy set in the Famine times in Ireland has been commissioned by Channel 4 television and it has caused some uproar. I hasten to add that at this moment it is nothing more than an idea smashing and rattling around the synapses of the writer’s brain; at this moment is is an idea , a collection of thoughts and random images as nebulous as gas , swirling around one human being’s consciousness. So why the uproar? Is someone saying that we are not actually allowed to think ?Apparently there is an online campaign to ban it  before it is written and a lot of politicians are already jumping on the bandwagon. Some of you will say , “They would , wouldn’t they?”The proposed writer is Dubliner Hugh Travers  and he’s already receiving some flak.It’s a little early to judge whether or not this comedic piece actually”works” so it is the very idea that is being challenged and not how good it actually is or will be .

In this light you might think that something like “Gone With the Wind ” makes light of slavery and war  by tacking on a love story  to a social upheaval that involved the slaughter of millions. The love story is what everyone remembers about that book and film…not the slaughterfest that occurred as the ultimate plot device.. You might think that the wonderful “MASH” film and television series  made light of the butchery of the Korean War. You might be right but am I wrong in imagining that the Irish , a race with  musicians, artists,  writers, poets and creatives aplenty, haven’t also got a black sense of humour….humour enough to sustain them through centuries of horror and humour enough to sustain them through  a  fictional television series about their own awful history….with a few absurdist gags and wry jokes thrown in? …Think Topol in “Fiddler on the Roof” wrangling with the mischief of his god.

If you couldn’t laugh about   it you might cry a little too much.

I say ,make the programme  and  let us see it …..and then we’ll be able to see if it’s funny or not..


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