Ha ha said the clown….

I remember those days of internet dating when one of those ever-present terms was “a good sense of humour” – stated either as a requirement or as a description of self. But the problem is that humour can mean different things to different people. Very different things….

There were those who thought the way to woo a woman was to wise-crack their way through a date, wondering why you’d politely side-step both the goodnight kiss and/or a suggestion for a second date. I’ve never utilised the “emergency phone call” methodology to get out of a date, and I’m well enough brought up to smile politely even when I don’t find something funny. The problem was that was often mis-read as some form of lady-like behaviour. I always wondered how they thought I came by these wrinkles laughter lines – it certainly wasn’t from smiling politely πŸ˜€

I never enjoyed jokes which relied on stereotyping of any sort – blond or sexist jokes being as unwelcome as racist or any other form of -ism. I like cleverness, so wit is my preferred form of humour, and observational humour is right up my alley. Self-deprecating humour – sending yourself up for the entertainment of others rather than picking on someone else – works for me. Yet tell a wise-cracker this and they just keep on wise-cracking… Because unless you share the same sense of humour, there tends to be an assumption that you either don’t have one, or are being stuck-up, or a prude, or whatever.

So, what does make me laugh? One way to clarify might be to give examples.

When I was young, my father loved old style monologues. He was a huge fan of Jonathan Winters, and he also bought a few LPs (remember those) by Bill Cosby. Yes… him. And they were funny, they really were. Would I still find them so – I don’t know. Would I be affected by what I now know about him – yes, absolutely. The problem is that they were observational and witty and self-deprecating, so I’d be conflicted over whether I’d rather spend an hour listening to them or to the determined but unfunny wise-cracker.

As a family, we’re very sarcastic., so I admire great one-liners and witty put-downs – but you have to really know (and love) the people concerned, and they have to know (and love) you back. For sarcasm can go badly wrong when mutual love isn’t present, and humour which hurts simply isn’t funny.

Terribly British stuff like Monty Python and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy just passed me by – I was (and remain) utterly bemused. Most British comedy on TV from my youth I found cringeworthy, but ones I recall finding amusing were Only Fools & Horses and Dad’s Army. Later it would include Absolutely Fabulous and Blackadder. Most recently, Derry Girls has provided a few giggles – mostly at the expense of the Catholic church and sectarianism. Of American shows, the ones which come to mind are The Golden Girls, and M*A*S*H*. All share a common theme of being either clever, witty, gently observational, or inviting you to laugh at themselves.

David Niven’s The Moon Is A Balloon stands out as a wonderfully funny piece of writing. While it caused me so many moments of laughing that hard I was grateful I didn’t have a full bladder, it also didn’t avoid subjects of sadness and loss. To this day I’ve never forgotten the tale of the fancy dress party, the goats and the olives…. (if you know, you know). Funnily enough, I found out only this week that Himself felt the same way upon reading it.

I tend to avoid most of the stand-up comedy on TV but, before COVID, went with a friend to see Sindhu Vee perform in a small live Soho venue. I didn’t have high expectations, or much in the way of expectation at all – but I found her really funny. I did actually LOL – and quite a lot. Her humour included a fair bit of culture blending (she is Indian and her husband is Danish), which worked really well for someone with my background. She’s also meets my cleverness pre-requisite, having degrees from the Universities of Delhi, Oxford, McGill and Chicago. I’m also currently fairly amused by Jack Whitehall. He sends himself up rather well, making fun of his poshness and the fact he still calls his parents Mummy and Daddy. But I’m beginning to suspect his parents could be just as funny…. if not more so.

Broadly speaking, I tend to give organised humour a miss. I have laughed till helpless on occasion, but it’s more often the scenario than the individual which caused me to so do. Himself regularly cracks me up – by being a blend of clever and silly – which makes him perfect for me. But as humour is so individual, I fully expect there’s plenty who’d wonder why I’m laughing….

What’s funny in Films/TV/Netflix/online right now? We all need a dose of humour and Himself can’t bear the responsibility for making me laugh all the time!

Β© Debra Carey, 2022

15 thoughts on “Ha ha said the clown….

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  1. My husband and son love slapstick humor. If someone gets slapped in the face or falls, the gales of laughter are endless. My sense of humor is more like yours–give me some witty banter and mock the establishment. I especially love the throwaway lines that make you think for a second before you crack up (LA is right, “Ted Lasso” is hilarious, and especially good with throwaways, but also warm and fuzzy).

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  2. Yup Autumn, Himself is like your husband & son. I’m not suggesting any gender stereotyping, no siree πŸ˜€
    I’ve avoided acting on the Twitter recommendations of Ted Lasso as the usual programmes that group recommends are either too weird or too ‘what the **** was that?’ I shall relent and issue Himself with instructions to make it so! πŸ™‚

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  3. I was thinking about this very topic recently. When I was younger, some mental image would tickle me so much that I couldn’t stop laughing until I passed out. I cannot remember the last time I laughed like that.

    Like you, I enjoy observational humor. We had the Bill Cosby albums and tapes for the car. Plus Amos and Andy and other old kind of slapstick humor? I’m afraid with Mr. Cosby I can’t unhear the things he has done, I haven’t tried to listen to his old stuff but the thought kind of gives me the heebie jeebies.

    And I’m suspicious of self-deprecating humor since watching Nanette. The first half of Hannah Gadsby’s show was funny. The second half, she went back and explained the real world stories of where that self-deprecating humor came from. I cried through the second half. I watched the whole thing again and I could see the pain behind the humor. It’s not like I’d never heard about the self deprecating humor that many comedians use masking their real pain. I guess she just made it more real.

    I don’t like put down humor. The internet has made sarcasm difficult. People can’t read whether or not you’re being funny and a lot of humor has left hurt feelings – and there’s nothing I hate more than “you can’t take a joke,” “I was just kidding,” or “I’m just taking the piss.” I recognize that I think I’m funnier than I probably am and I am working to not offend people both online and off. My humor has gotten too sarcastic right now.

    So, you made some good points and asked some good questions. Has the world stopped being funny? I like Call Me Kat as far as TV goes. I haven’t liked a sitcom in a long time but Leslie Jordan is really funny – self deprecating as he is. I like the whole cast.

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  4. Zazzy, you mentioning listening to tapes for the car reminded me of Garrison Keeler. The BBC released some recordings of him reading his stories which someone I knew kept in his car. I still love those stories. And how many albums and shows have been ruined forever by Mr Cosby.

    You make a wise observation about self-deprecating humour. I’ve not seen Nanette, but I can imagine seeing the level of pain behind the humour would kill any enjoyment stone dead. As you say, we all know it’s there, but seeing it up close and personal…

    I think sarcasm only works in person and with people where there’s a solid love and relationship. Like you, I can’t bear people excusing bad behaviour by suggesting they’re being funny and it’s us who can’t take the joke. But the current world situation is crying out for sarcasm so I understand the decision to keep a lid on it.

    I’ll check out Call Me Kat, thank you.

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  5. I’ll try to remember Autumn. Himself is getting a little list of items out of this post to organise for my viewing pleasure. I know he’ll be thrilled πŸ˜€

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  6. I love both MASH and Golden Girls. I also liked Modern Family a lot. Most recently, my husband and I watched Ted Lasso, which we both thoroughly enjoyed.

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  7. I just went to look up Modern Family Christie and discovered that it’s been on for 11 seasons! I’ll ask Himself to check if he can find that, as well as Ted Lasso. Thanks πŸ™‚


  8. I’ll join the chorus for Ted Lasso. My kind of humor is very much how you describe yours, and I loved that show. Have you tried Grace and Frankie (Netflix)? I’m not sure I ever finished the last season, but I really liked the first few. In a really different vein, I also love Better Things (on FX, but I see it on Hulu). It’s not for everyone and sometimes it gut-punches your heart, but it’s also funny. I’m generally not an LOLer, but all three of these shows have made me laugh.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ll join the chorus for Ted Lasso. My kind of humor is very much how you describe yours, and I loved that show. Have you tried Grace and Frankie (Netflix)? I’m not sure I ever finished the last season, but I really liked the first few. In a really different vein, I also love Better Things (on FX, but I see it on Hulu). It’s not for everyone and sometimes it gut-punches your heart, but it’s also funny. I’m generally not an LOLer, but all three of these shows have made me laugh.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Rita, I’m sorry that your comment felt into my spam filter and that you had to try again (or maybe it auto-nagged me!) Himself has been instructed on Ted Lasso, and yes – I already adore Grace & Frankie. I think I’ve heard Better Things being spoken off among my Twitterites, so will give that a look to see if I can add to Himself’s list πŸ˜€ I’m not a LOLer either, so your recommendations sounds my kinda thing, thank you πŸ™‚


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