Laugh is the theme for February for the Australian National Year of Reading.
The truth is that not much makes me laugh out loud. Never has. And it’s not as though I don’t have a sense of humour because I do. So I set a challenge for anyone who reads this blog – all two of you – to recommend a book to me that is guaranteed to make me laugh out loud.
To refine the field a little I can tell you that I don’t find slapstick funny, nor humour at the misfortune of others. I don’t find expletives funny because to me they are just words and hold no power to amuse or deride. I find some amusement in the differences of people – you know the old Irish jokes? But is that more to do with discomfort than amusement? Men versus women jokes are not really funny to me because they are so often close to the truth.
I don’t find “Aussie” humour funny at all. I don’t find comedians like Judith Lucy funny. She can’t seem to get through one routine or interview without making mention of her vagina. Why she seems to think people find that funny or even worthy of mentioning is quite beyond my comprehension.
Animal humour can be slightly cute and will stir a smirk or giggle from me on occasion. Usually though this is in the form of video clips and I am not prone to read “animal” stories at all. Unlike nine year old boys, I am not amused by toilet humour.
I can tell you that I am a Monty Python fan and think that there have been no comedies to match them at all in the 40 years since they made their mark. The Life of Brian and The Holy Grail are classics. As you go through life being troubled by life’s typical problems you can always find a Monty Python quote to match the situation and lighten the mood with a sense of levity. And although their books remind you of their silliness I wouldn’t say they have made me laugh hysterically.
Brian: I’m not the Messiah!
Arthur: I say you are, lord, and I should know… I’ve followed a few.
I appreciate Fawlty Towers but it doesn’t quite do it for me the way the Monty Python team did.
The French sense of humour I understand and I don’t know why. Twice in my life I have laughed so much that tears rolled down my cheeks and both of these were at live performances. One was in Melbourne back in my art school days and I went with a friend to see a one man stand up routine by Chris Langham. He worked with the Monty Python crew and was one of the centurions in The Life of Brian. His career took a sad turn for the worst in recent years which is unfortunate. But nevertheless he did make me laugh back in the day.
The second time I laughed tears of hysteria was in Paris in 2008 at a cabaret show and one of the acts was a performance by a clown/acrobat/mime. I started laughing as soon as he came onto the stage because of his silly antics and it grew from there. I laughed all through his performance and I had sore cheeks, tears in my eyes and on my face and I was breathless by the time he finished his skit.
Perhaps I laugh at what is absurd and ridiculous. I like satire and comedy aimed at intellect.
So you see unfortunately I can’t recall one single book that has made me laugh out loud. I am sure there must have been moments in books that I sniggered at, but none stand out.
I would love a good laugh, so if you think you have something to match my narrow sense of humour then please provide your ideas in the comments section and I will definitely look it up and read it.
[The members of “The People’s Front of Judea” are sitting in the amphitheatre. Stan has just announced that he wants to be a woman and wants to be called “Loretta,” and is explaining why.]
Stan: I want to have babies.
Reg: You want to have babies?!?!
Stan: It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them.
Reg: But … you can’t HAVE babies!
Stan: Don’t you oppress me!
Reg: I’m not oppressing you, Stan. You haven’t got a womb! Where’s the fetus gonna gestate? You gonna keep it in a box?
I didn’t even know it was National Year of Reading in Australia, but that makes me so happy. I was amazed when I lived in Australia for a bit about how much they actually read as a culture. It’s wonderful. Thank you for sharing. Do you have any good Aussie book recommendations? I’m doing the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge this year.
Well I love Geraldine Brooks as an author but she doesn’t necessarily write about Australia. One of my favourite Aussie books is by Murray Bail titled “Eucalyptus”. Kate Grenville is an Australian author who writes great Aussie stories set back in the early colonial history. Nikki Gemmell is another Australian author who tells a great Australian story although I like her earlier work more than her recent stuff. Helen Garner is another worthy contender.
Good luck with the reading. I like the idea of the challenge.
So, apart from being the person who Sue went to see Chris Langham with…I’m also an afficionado of the art of comedy. I also witnessed first hand, the way that comedy can break down barriers between people.
Witness if you will, the initial meeting between myself and my wifes (then) 12 yo son. He speaking not a word of english, and me knowing very little of his native Chinese. He was very wary of me for some hours until I asked him to ‘pull my finger’ (via gestures rather than the spoken word)
As a regular low-brow Australian male, his pulling had the obvious effect… And also made that young Chinese boy burst into laughter for about 15 minutes. From that moment on we were friends – a bond made via the gift of laughter (albeit not humour that I was overly proud of). I may also have inadvertently become responsible for introducing the act of finger-pulling to the Peoples Republic of China, and I’m not sure if I should be proud or ashamed?
Mr. Anthony F. Gray is widely renowned as one of the funniest people around and I am not talking about his looks!! ;-D He is gifted with that rare ability to make people laugh and I am so grateful he is one of my dearest friends. He is also very very smart!! A rare combination indeed. Thanks Tony.
Try reading The Completely MAD Don Martin. His comics are full of puns, onomatopoeia and weird, wobbly characters. He is sublime in his delivery of humour. I would also suggest Arrested Developmnet (the TV series). Amazing collaborative writing, a great production with the perfect cast, this shows slowly creeps up on you.
I too find it difficult to find a funny read. I think humour works much better in visuals, whether this be a performance, movie, TV, comic or spoken word.