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Having A Laugh

Enjoying a smattering of snow (would not call it much else) here in Cincinnati, Ohio. Also enjoying being a mad Englishman wandering around in the cold dark early morning listening a recent birthday present, the BBC radio adaptation of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s ‘Good Omens’ and once more marvelling at how it is actually possible to make the Apocalypse genuinely funny.

 

Hells Angel:        “You’re Hell’s Angels, then? What chapter are you from?’
DEATH:                 ‘REVELATION. CHAPTER SIX.”

 

Well, it is isn’t really… It’s more the observations of people and things and how they might relate to such a thing being a very wise and sharply observed deconstruction of human nature at its best and worst. As Crowley the demon points out, nothing that the forces of Hell can come up with is a patch on the bad things we can do to each other.

I’m really looking forward to the new BBC TV adaptation after listening to Gaiman speak in London recently and talk about having written the scripts himself partly as tribute to Terry Pratchett, who died before he could give his approval; when you listen to someone talk that way, you can be fairly certain that whatever else, the script will be as good as it can be.

As with the likes of the ‘Life of Brian’ (for me the best thing the Pythons ever did) I am struck that sometimes the best way to think about some of the most serious subjects is humour. Yes, you can be offended, but it is a good thing to question and to take a step backwards from some subjects and actually use this amazing ability we have to actual think. Then if we step back or step further away from whatever ‘it’ is – and to be clear I am talking about anything someone might find a bit difficult, of which things I find many in the world – at least that movement is a conscious one. Humour provides a real gift here, and something I personally think is unique to us humans (although I have met plenty of cats who attitude seemed to drip with dry sarcasm). It is the sugar to coat the pill that we need to take if we want to be honest with ourselves, the sofa that we can hide behind to watch the monsters in a way that we would find difficult without its supposed protection. I know whenever I am embarrassed or unsure of myself I am most likely to try and hide behind some humour and I know I am not the only one. It is one of the least convincing part of many thrillers or horror movies for me is the lack of humour at the darkest points as that’s where I expect to find it if there was some kind of reality lurking there along with whatever ‘nasty is waiting patiently so it can have your heart’ (to quote Bucks Fizz. Incidentally, once you look at the lyrics of ‘Land of Make Believe’ in detail you realise just how dark and sinister that song is, and not just because you might hate that kind of eighties vocal pop).

I like my humour to have an edge and preferably a sharp one. But this kind of humour can easily cut and wound too, so I continue to admire those that can wield such a weapon with skill and panache and originality. They are to be treasured.

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