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Accent on humour

Recently, I wrote a small cameo piece about a “cross-dresser” and the time and place he “came out” publicly in a small country town (see: “A short announcement“). I wrote it as (what I thought) a humorous piece, acting on the logic that where or whenever such an “event” happened, be it in the place chosen, for its degree of comfort and camaraderie, or in the main street in full drag, it was bound to be confronting in a pathos-bathos scenario that could occasion a few laughs from the distance of many years hence. I sent it to a younger person employed in an local government artistic/cultural occupation as an adjunct to a conversation we had on certain “local” issues. I was mistaken, at least, mistaken in the perception of what a new generation of readers finds funny. Perhaps, as has been suggested, my aged, male, working-class perception of what is or is not funny is now thoroughly dated! “It’s just not funny anymore” has been at odd times leveled accusingly at yours truly. I’ve had my own doubts before … it may be time to believe it!

Though, when one analyses the condition that creates a “moment of humour”, so that a laugh involuntarily springs from our lips, it is understood as the sudden “leap” from pathos to bathos and the swiftly altered situation thereof … like the flaying of arms and legs in a sudden “banana-slip” moment … a kind of slapstick suddenness. But something has changed. There appears to now be some hesitancy to guffaw innocently at others foolishness or mishaps. You think about it … how long since you have heard a string of good jokes? I used to hear many. One “tuned one’s ear” for the grand joke from a good joke teller. They were considered rare treasures; one “good” joke could make or break a reputation in any front-bar! You remember that “Clayton’s … the drink you have when … ” advert with what’sisname? Oh yeah, Jack Thompson. That was the accepted locale for the dispersion of male humour. I’m sure that other gender has a similar locale!

Now it’s all gone, but people are still laughing. The guffaws are still coming, but what are we now laughing at, if not socially incorrect slapstick? I think we are more inclined to seek out humour in the more perverted absurdities of life … in the increasingly bizarro-behaviours of people and situations. I think we are finding more laughs in a kind of sado-humour than we did before, and it is a worrying thing. I’m not saying certain ghastly racist/sexist jokes aren’t deserving of the dustbin of history, but there is a worrying criticism of satire that is very “over the top” censorship. There seems less inclination to humour, and more inclination to litigate such skits as one would find on “The Hampster” or “Ripping Yarns” or “Python” etc.

Yet, I have seen rise alongside such cruel treatment that one occasionally views on a channel-surf expedition of “Reality TV” an appreciation of sado-humour, where cruel or victim-selection programs are on top of the ratings! I have watched several so-called “funny home-videos” skits that seem to me to be brutal and dangerous … that one can see such moments have been deliberately staged to get the video on the show. Same with those “competitive cooking/singing ” programs etc. There can be no better display of sado-humour than one sees on such channels. Yet they are the top-rating programs. What gives!?

One can track the evolution of such sado-humour back to the days of “try-hard” Hollywood “black humour”, where the big studios tried their hand at so-called crime-comedy. I remember the hit movie “Beverly Hills Cop” was the beginning of such a genre, where it was billed as a comedy, yet I counted seven quite brutal killings in the show. (I was a “forced viewer” … been taken to the cinema against my better judgement by acquaintances who “just loved it and you will too”). I hated it. It made me wince. (I’m a sensitive bloke). I was almost going to add my set piece here that ”I’m almost a Buddhist, y’know”, but considering the behavior of those believers in Myanmar just recently, I’ll let that one through to the keeper.

And I do confess to committing what could be called a sexist faux pas a while back when the rather well-sculptured woman who was the project manager of the small group I volunteered for, pulled a newly arrived “T” shirt from a package, and announced:

“Look, our new “T” shirts with our new slogan on them. What do you think?” And she enthusiastically held it on the front of her chest for me to see. She smiled a broad smile, I gazed keenly and blinked a couple of times in silence, not having gathered my now woolly thoughts back together..

“Well” she asked impatiently, ”what do you think?” and she jiggled a tad.

“Nice cut of cloth”. I searched for the correct words; ”lovely colour, good slogan, but …” and here I got marooned on that damn reef of male stuttering in the face of all things attractive about a woman but are not allowed to admit even when it is soooo obvious.

“But? But what?” Her brow furrowed. I girded my loins.

“But … I don’t know if that slogan ought to be just where it is … (and here I might have hurried my words a bit too fast). It might be OK for the blokes who wear them, but for the ladies … eeee (a sucking-in of breath). I don’t know: “Working Together” is a nice slogan, a bloody good slogan! Yes! Good … but placed just at that level in three inch high letters may draw too much attention to certain parts of the female anatomy and give the insensitive male opportunity to guffaw a tad.” I knew I was skating on thin ice. ”You know what I mean?” I twisted my head to one side and gave a teethy wince.

I draw the curtain of charity (as they say) on the good lady’s response and was assured the next day by the same woman that her husband, whom she consulted for an opinion that same night didn’t know what I meant “so there” … and I will confess here and now, even though it may cost me “skin” in doing so, I thought to myself. ”More the hopeless male; him!”

Indeed, the “humour” of the aged, white, building-site male may be dated beyond redemption, but the basis for such humour, ie; the “situation comedy” surely will not date. The spectator/viewer, looking on to the unfolding of a unscripted public slapstick moment, whether by accident or by self-deprecation, surely must be allowed a release of laughter at the ironic absurdity of the situation without guilt or remorse, rather than be driven to “approvingly” laugh sneeringly, cruelly, publicly, at the misfortune and hard-luck of others.

Bring back The Hampster crew, I say!

 


35 comments

  1. helvityni

    Humour is dead, buried with good manners, kindness, and with willingness to understand and forgive; now pedantry, earnestness ,bullying and belittling rule, the competition for the last word, who’s the cleverest boy/girl on the block, or should that be blog…

    Look and listen to our Liberal politicians cackling , smirking, laughing out loud at their own nastiness ( they haven’t said anything funny, have they)…

    The English invented the humour, but their great comedians have come and gone, and replaced by some unfunny fast-talking youngsters… Here too the two girls on ABC started well, but nowit’s all shrieking and running about, when ‘s the funny coming…

    I take solace in reading Barry Humphries’ memories, and re-reading Howard Jacobson funniest, the Jewish can also be proud of their many top comedians.

    I’ll survive as I have always gravitated towards people with a sense of humour, they’ll help me through this dry patch…I hope. 🙂

  2. Oscar

    And who could forget the great wit of Oscar Wilde. Everyone now seems so lame and nasty. Bullying/Group Thought is out of control.Just like when they bullied Oscar.

  3. Joseph Carli

    Helvi’..I was watching an old Robin Williams interview and he recounted an interview with a German Television show where the lady asked him why did he think there were so few German comedians and he replied that ;” probably because you killed most of your funny people in the war!”….

    Yes, Oscar…the treatment of Oscar Wilde was gross and outrageous and on of the tragedies of the age..but trhen if you look into the lives of so many wonderful and gifted people, many seem to end up in a bad place…Dorothy Parker, Edith Piaf, Oscar , as you say..F.Scott Fitzgerald..Tony Hancock..Brian Jones etc…Dorothy Parker said that no one went to Fitzgerald’s funeral…it is all so tragic..you wonder why they do it.

  4. helvityni

    …yes, for the wonderful Oscar Wilde, I like Mark Twain too, and there has been many other brilliant ones, but where are the new greats…

    If poverty and adversity produce great humourists, there ought to be plenty new-comers to the scene…soon.

  5. Deanna Jones

    You could edit this down to about one paragraph, Joseph.

    I don’t know where you’ve been living but there are plenty of very funny stand up comics who manage to not be offensive. Really clever humour is far from dead. Unfortunately for the dinosaurs like you “look.boobs! Hahah” just isn’t clever or funny.

    You seem to be using a lot of words to say that political correctness is spoiling all the fun you used to have at other people’s expense. Boo hoo.

  6. Joseph Carli

    Jesus, Deanna..it’s only 9:09 am and you’re got both barrels firing!..onyer, I say!…I was thinking I would have to wait till everyone here got back from church before they had anything interesting to say…but there you go…

    No..no..I don’t do : “look, boobs! ha-ha”..I do ..: “look; the beautiful breasts on a woman..how enticing for a bloke like me…I do believe I am growing to become a dirty old man!…how wonderful!”…THERE..that’ll give you some more ammunition!

    And here’s a bit more..Christ!..I love admiring the shape, form and walk of beautiful women..some older, some younger…To me, it makes life worth living….all those curves, big and small…how delicious!

  7. Michael Taylor

    Deanna, Joseph is a story teller. That’s the way he writes. He wraps a story around a message.

    I find that style rather enjoyable.

  8. Joseph Carli

    And here you go, Deanne..just for you!

    4 AM.

    4 am. I lay warmly abed,
    Rain raps its staccato fingers impotently on the glass,
    And my sleeping lady lies naked next to me.
    Croesus’ riches are but nought.

  9. Joseph Carli

    Oh, hang on, Michael..can’t you just hear it?…: “Fight! fight! fight!…”

  10. helvityni

    Variety is the spice of life: Lord, Kaye, Rossleigh, Carli, Kampmark, all have their very own take on issues, they have different styles of writing, I don’t need to put them in order in some likeability contest; I enjoy and value all of them ,for different reasons…

  11. Roswell

    helvityni, to add to the list … John Kelly is another author whose articles I enjoy.

    Plus there are many guest authors whose work appeals to me. Notably among these is Dr George Venturini. Such an outstanding researcher and writer.

  12. Terry2

    The problem we have with free to air is that Murdoch will progressively grab all the sport content for subscription TV principally FOX and FTA will be left with the rubbish like the Bachelor.

    The government are complicit in this and will assist Murdoch by diminishing the funding to ABC and SBS.

  13. townsvilleblog

    I don’t find many yanks funny Robin Williams was the exception to the rule, but pathetic examples like Seinfeld don’t do it for me.

  14. wam

    wow joseph DP love her “you can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think?”
    Humour I am a tom lehrer fan, gore vidal and stan freeberg (his anti-tv series brilliant ‘puff-grass’) from the americas, goons, hancock, two ronnies billy from the pommes Aussies aunti jack adam hills and I wonder if there is any humour in this for today’s youth
    where’s my car Coln?
    In front of robert’s place……..and some at june’s!!!
    The three Ds is the killer of the ultra talented
    Depression
    Drink
    Drugs
    and the talented
    and the ordinary

    yesterday my paper had jill poulsen
    full page YES
    why?? because I am not an arsehole in context great humour?

  15. diannaart

    Does the owner of the boobs matter? Would “working together” elicit similar response from Joseph if wearer was male with a couple of obvious man-boobs? Or boob-challenged female, perhaps the message would be, um, clearer?

    I would appreciate the clarification.

    Cheers

    😉

  16. Roswell

    Ad astra is another guest author who I consider outstanding.

    And who could ignore David Tyler? His weekly articles here are brilliant.

  17. Joseph Carli

    diannaart..fair question and I believe I made it clear in the anecdote about whether the slogan was more easily “digested” on a male bosom…and YES!..I do believe it would have elicited a salacious response if the wearer had been male with “man boobs”..I think most men have witnessed such slanders..sure..we all can appreciate the sad, sometimes sexist ogling of the female form..notwithstanding ANY protest against such a thing..that is a fact of life ..overt or covert..If you stop a moment and absorb the obviousness of the anecdote…and I did, I feel, go somewhat TOO far to make it obvious (and THAT, I feel is a reflection on the puerile imaginations of a new generation’s comprehension)..it was the naive absurdity of the situation (which is what comedy is all about, REGARDLESS of the morality) to think there would NOT be overt or (certainly) covert allusion to the bleedin’ obvious..Hell!..I hold no monopoly on admiration / denigration of the female human form..from the vast mists of eternity through a glass darkly women have risen and fallen on the strength of their beauty and their use or abuse of it…entire empires have been lost on male delusion for the “femme fatale”..did I not admit such recently in my poem on here : “The Secret” ?..( https://theaimn.com/the-secret/ ) where Cleopatra presented herself as a concubine to Julius Caesar..yet did the opposite to the lesser general ; Marc Antony…She did such, as a savvy , experienced in the wily twists of life’s necessities female, knowing the egocentric personalities of both male rulers, and knowing her reliance on the power-base of those generals..she submitted (falsely) to the one as his mistress, knowing his fierce ambition to dominate, but presented as High Queen to the other who was a rougher diamond used to a more subordinate role.In truth, Cleopatra “played” them both!
    The psychology of male-female sexual teasing may be complex, but the absurdity of the humour is more simple…and while the gross simplicity of getting a guffaw from a “Mrs. Slocum has lost her pussy” may be a thing of the past..I don’t see any greater humour from the ABC’s ; ” Get Krack!n” when one of them complains of “fleas growing in my pussy”.
    I will leave it now to someone else to filter through this lot..But I tell you what, if you are going to single me out for individual criticism, you better get your “arithmetic” right, because ; male of female, I don’t go down (no..naughty, naughty!) without a damn good fight!…. 🙂

  18. diannaart

    Wow!

    Have I struck a nerve?

    OK. Would your friend with the T-Shirt have found your interpretation of “working together” as humorous? If so, then you’re fine. But if not, maybe a little thought about the person who owns the boobs you are staring at needs to be considered.

    It is OK to stare but not to ogle, it is OK to fantasise, but it is not OK to make it bleeding obvious of what are YOUR desires and YOUR ideas, they may not be the same as those of the person of your stare.

    It is about respect. It isn’t respect if you place your thoughts above the feelings of another’s.

    Now, I do not know how well you know your friend – she may have thought your observation funny or she may not. That is for you to consider.

    BTW

    Humour: I find Get Krackin’ hilarious, Mrs Slocum’s pussy way past use by date for humour. See, we all view things differently, the point is whether you can respect someone who holds a different opinion to you.

  19. Joseph Carli

    diannaart..Of course, I fully agree with your observations above..and yes, I do know the lady in q’ quite well, and the conversation was taken in the vein presented..I did use a degree of “poetic license” in developing the theme..after all…any anecdote has to be “developed”.. so it was taken in good fun..and in presenting my observations here, i believe I have proven my point..”old humour” is dead..but then, so, for me , is the style of “new humour”..though I do make a example for “Utopia”..
    diannaart said ; ” Have I struck a nerve?”…not so much, but by jingo. I love a good scrap!

  20. diannaart

    Joseph

    I am weary of male/female politics. I won’t stop fighting, of course – this world still belongs to men both physically and intellectually, for example, “women who don’t find ALL male humour funny must be lonely, dried up old crones”. Suuuurrrrre, believe that if you so choose.

    However, on this round, I win – “poetic license”, notwithstanding, you played to a limited audience not an inclusive one.

    😛

  21. Joseph Carli

    ” you played to a limited audience …” Di’ ..to the insecure ego, the sound of one hand clapping is encouragement enough to presume an encore..

  22. helvityni

    Roswell, there are many good contributors here, but I just mentioned the ones who appear here most often. David Tyler, Ad Astra, John Kelly, Kyran and more are equally competent writers…

    Agree with wam’s list, but I never got into Adam Hills, but like Gruen transfer and Micallef.

    I don’t know about America as the whole, but there have been plenty top Jewish NY comedians, loved Seinfeld and his mates…

    PS. Wanting to win every spat belongs to Kindergarten.. 🙂

  23. diannaart

    Helvityni

    PS. Wanting to win every spat belongs to Kindergarten..

    I agree completely… 😀

  24. Joseph Carli

    I am a collector of souls ,
    I hear people talk ; I ken,
    I see what they write,
    And I collate,
    I am the watcher on the rim of a far horizon.

    [I’ve always liked that title of Hal Porter’s autobiography; “The Watcher on the Cast-iron Balcony”…love that title..and I have pinched it a tad..it conjures up that furtive sneak-pic..a kind of childhood voyeurism..a hunger to absorb the unknown]

    But I have never aspired to be the “nice” person..such like means death to the hungry male..

    A Cold, Cruel Dream.

    I dreamt she’d died, unsatisfied..
    And our children asked me to attend the rite.
    And though divorced these many years,
    Would I please to view her in state?

    Now that, is not something I’d normally do,
    The plastic presentation of death I eschew.
    But curiosity urged me abide ,
    To view that woman I’ve many years evade.

    As I gazed on the broad, Irish face,
    That had lied and cheated from my embrace,
    I blanched at the look of innocence there,
    Rose blossoms dappling her now grey hair.

    As if to deny to me by this final sight ,
    The justice for many years that was my right.
    Forgiveness not what I sought,
    But rather admission for the damage wrought.

    Upon marriage, relationship and our children begot.
    But now, in the silence of this final place,
    No word from those lips so bitter she’d trace,
    No reason, no ’scuse, no thought of disgrace.

    Just an emptiness , as per her usual escape.
    Nothing..save one long-stemmed rose strategically placed,
    HER request, no doubt….sensitive to an image she’d like embraced,
    Always keen to leave an impression entranced…

    Enough!

    I turned to go…then..in a moment inspired ,
    I took that rose there so astutely attired,
    Broke off part of the stem.. and did place
    The thorny stalk, it’s vicious spikes,
    Across those tight, pressed lips now forever chaste.

  25. Vikingduk

    Once upon a time in an LNP cabinet meeting far far away, old mate, Kev Andrews, stands up, drops his pants to reveal his stainless steel cod piece also bringing his inlaid stainless steel penis sheath. A sight greeted by shock and dismay, by revulsion and delight.

    Well, Joolz Bishop, she moans, she utters an oooh an ahhhh, yes she says, stainless steel undies for me, post haste. Joolz hires Phill (Havianas mate) as her undies wrangler. Now Phill took to the work with zeal, commitment and innovation, bashing out the wrinkles and polishing til his fingers bled. He moaned and muttered a constant refrain: what manner of human is this, how can she stain the stainless like this, a stain that marks the skin, now they call me Phill-thy Phill.

    Bugger this, says Phill, I’m off, I’m gone, time to hit the frog and toad, spiritual enlightenment for me. So off he goes embarking on his crusade to the holy lands of Phill-istine, clean the soul, settle the yin and boost the yang. 40 days and 40 nights sees Phill achieve nirvana. It’s time, says Phill, hit the toad, on a jihad of peace, love and brown rice.

    This is definitely maybe a true story, Joseph, certainly in this universe, and, besides that, trust me, I dolphinately wouldn’t lead you astray, I cod go on but no, I leave you with this, mullet over.

  26. Joseph Carli

    Vikingduk…Shades of “Finnigans Wake!” begad, sirrrr..I think he’s cracked it!..

  27. Vikingduk

    As I sit here in the tower of the family castle, Gormanghast, there is good old Phill-thy Phill I spy, spreading his peacelovebrownrice, what’s that, by dog, he’s using a fox paw to scatter the blessings in of all places the US of A. By dog says he, that Jobson Grothe, a fraud a amateur a poser, I’ll show him innovation. So I will. Me and some school chums, Weava Plan and Innes (Inn) O. Vation, all of us on a messianic crusadic jihad to spread that peacelovebrownrice.

    The stainless steel fetish of course spread through the ranks of the LNP, all trying to outdo each other of course, old mate Yorrick, I knew him well, tells me tones had his stainless penis sheath inlaid and dotted with tungsten Angels, whilst the thing that is dutton encased his heart in stainless steel.

    Well it’d make a brown dog moan and weep and gnash them fangs to see the insane treachery on display by the LNP. That andrew’s cod piece has a lot to answer for, a Labor plot to be sure. Having whale of time here, need a tuna up, catch ya later gator.

  28. helvityni

    Vikingduk, I miss all the swearing… 🙂

    Your earlier posts reminded me of the wonderful British comedy series ‘The Thick of It’, where every second word was effing f..k. ( see, I have learnt not to upset anyone with naughty words) If it’s OK to swear on BBC, why not on AIMN…? 🙂

    ( I hope Havana has finally disappeared for good.)

  29. Vikingduk

    Oh dear, Helvityni, the tale of Phill-thy Phill overtook the equilibrium, ethnomethodolodically speaking so just for you phuk a duk Phill, you Phill-thy phucker, phuk off and never darken this hexagon again. Phuck me, it’d kill a brown dog it would.

  30. diannaart

    Joseph

    Just finished reading an article which reminded me very strongly of my ex-husband; the only times I saw him laugh was at me, never with me.

    Anyhoo, humour IS important, without a good belly laugh (hopefully NOT at the expense of someone else) our society would indeed become non-existent – Margaret Thatcher would probably like that, not many people saw her laugh out loud…

    Humour + Trump = ?

    Thanks to the power of the internet, there is proof that our president has indeed laughed at least once. This was during a campaign rally in January, when Mr. Trump’s speech was interrupted by a barking dog.

    “It’s Hillary!” an audience member shouted. And the candidate tilted his head back, opened his mouth wide and laughed without reservation, quite possibly for the first time in his political life.

    Well, he can laugh.

    For the complete article, please read:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/16/opinion/sunday/trump-does-not-laugh.html

  31. Joseph Carli

    diannaart..: ” the only times I saw him laugh was at me, never with me.” Now THAT is tragic..quite cruel, actually..I have experienced similar times in my first marriage..an ex-spouse, I might assure, that is still very much alive and kicking!..”crass”, i believe is the word she used..but hey..who’s counting…..brood, brood!…nah, not really..But I agree that humour could be considered a greater gift to theatre than tragedy…AND a more difficult skill to hone.
    But as far as Trump goes, one can expect nothing at all…the same as Malcolm..drear and dowdy..I’m afraid that is all we can expect…as a matter of fact , one is reticent and reluctant to hear a joke from either!

  32. diannaart

    Hmmm… have never heard Turncoat give a genuine heart-felt laugh either…. sometimes, it is better NOT to know what makes someone laugh…

  33. Joseph Carli

    Never trust the laugh of a lawyer!

  34. Vikingduk

    And always stay abreast of any situation.

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