on humour

I wrote a few months back about personal preferences and touched on humour. I got a bit carried away with my thoughts and wrote so much that I decided to cut it out and give it a post to itself, so here we go.

Humour is very personal and I recognised the generation changes as a teenager. With my parents I had enjoyed radio shows like Hancock’s Half Hour, The Navy Lark, Round the Horne and Beyond My Ken. But then shows like I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again (ISIRTA) came along that I loved, but just bewildered my Mum and Dad. Perhaps that Is why I find very little funny in contemporary humour.

Personal preferences are here again though, and the Wokingham Wonder and I have different tastes.Fortunately we also have a large overlap and, for me, one of the joys in our relationship is that she is tuned into my tendency to go off at tangents from conversations. I have a love of aural humour, possibly from having had so much exposure to radio comedy (we did not have a TV at home on a regular basis until the second half of the Sixties).

That is also probably why I was so disappointed with Monty Python and The Goodies where my heroes from ISIRTA moved on to form part of the former and all of the latter. Visually the humour just did not work for me. I do enjoy visual humour though and two of my favourite films are comedies, (although I did not know that when I went into the cinema to see them). I went to see Blazing Saddles because the lady I was with at the time loved Westerns and I loved it (she didn’t). Mostly it is visual humour, but the dialogue is superb and there are plenty of aural gags in there too. Some years later the lady that I was first married to loved disaster movies and so we went to see Airplane!, me reluctant, her keen and, once again I loved it and she hated it. Airplane! has aural and visual gags aplenty and I was still finding new ones as late as the fifth or sixth time of seeing it.

I love words and playing with them. Spoonerisms and malapropisms litter my conversations at home. English is full of opportunities with things like words ending in ough; plough, cough and so on. Fortunately the Berkshire Belle is sharp enough, and knows me well enough, to pick up on my playing with words and she rarely misses a beat. Often when I go off on one tangent she will pick it up and change direction again.

Written humour I enjoy too, but again some of the modern humour misses for me. Oddly I got into Douglas Adams from the TV adaptation of Hitchhikers Guide and then read the books, enjoying the ingongruity and juxtaposition of ideas. A fello enthusiast for these books amongst my colleagues suggested the Discworld books of Terry Pratchett and lent me several, but these let me down somewhat. There would begin a thread that I thought was going to be brilliant, but they all petered out. It was like watching football or rugby from high in the stand as what could be a great play develops from the back. Just as you get excited with where things are going the wrong pass is made and all is lost. Load of people love the book though and good luck to them.

I enjoy humour with style and wit and much of that seems to be lacking nowadays where crudity and personal attacks seem so often to be what gets the laughs. If that floats your boat then so be it; I am all for people enjoying themselves and having a laugh is a daily necessity for me. If I find different things funny to you then so what? After all, it’s a funny old world.

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