Thursday 13 May 2010

Make ‘em laugh… or maybe not

I challenge you to make me laugh. Go on. Try it.


Mr A. is only too aware of how difficult this is. I have been known to sit through an entire comedy programme without even smiling while he is falling off his chair with hysterical laughter.

imageWhen someone says, ‘Have you heard the one about...?’ I feel an instant pang of anxiety and the minute they start to tell their little gem of a joke I start to worry in case I don’t ‘get it’.

clip_image001[4]I worry so much that I hardly listen to the joke and then I force myself to laugh because I don’t want to offend them. Not so long ago I laughed before my friend reached the punch line which turned out to be even more embarrassing than not ‘getting it’.

Apparently Stephen Merchant collates and treasures stories of ‘discomfort and embarrassment because it’s so human and there’s so much pathos and connection and empathy...’ I hate embarrassment. I hate to be embarrassed. I hate to think that I have embarrassed somebody and I hate watching other people be embarrassed. A lot of TV sitcom humour seems to rely on embarrassment as do most TV sketch shows. Is it any wonder I rarely laugh during an evening of TV viewing?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a misery, not all the time.

clip_image002Holding my new grandson makes me smile.

Watching kittens roll over and over play fighting makes me giggle.

clip_image005And I once asked the ice cream man for a large cornflake instead of a large cornet with a flake and I laughed so much that I had to sit on the pavement because I couldn’t breathe.

But put a ‘guaranteed to have you rolling in the aisles’ film on the TV and I barely manage a smile. I think it’s because they try too hard and it’s why I’ll never try to write comedy. If one of my stories elicits a smile then that’s a bonus but I believe that the best comedy happens by accident and I’m not talking about a banana skin accident.