A Similar Bent By Jan Needle
Nobody’s ever accused me of being a philosopher, but I can boast that people have been pondering over my sense of humour all my life, give or take the years of non-verbal communication (gurgles, etc, you know the kind of thing).
One school, led by people of a similar bent (the clever ones) find it very funny, and possibly even excellent. Others (sadly many of them women) find it generally unfunny, sometimes unfunny in the extreme, and occasionally, a damned disgrace. No names no packdrill; they know who they are.
|Carl Grose as Waggie|
Why, madam, why, why, why? It’s about a little boy whose parents find him so horrible that they run away from home to join a circus, and he celebrates by playing on the M62, gets squashed by a lorry (a Mercedes 16-32, from memory), and is fitted out with clockwork insides. And he still goes and saves their lives while they’re going over the Niagara Falls in a pedalo for a stunt. Mean-minded? The child’s a saint.
What’s more, lots of people think so. Apart from the sackfuls of letters I’ve had from children over the years, apparently sane adults have spent thousands of hours and quids disseminating it. First off the blocks were Kneehigh Theatre, when they did a touring version that ended up in London. It was written by one of their actor/writer/associates called Carl Grose, who had read it as a Truro comprehensive boy and claims it’s what made him want to be a writer.
It’s also been done in other theatres, and several people in television harbour dreams of raising enough loot to cartoonise it. Kath Shackleton, whose Yorkshire-based company Fettle Animation have had it on the back-burner for a couple of years, has a cup of tea with me every now and then for a little bit of plotting and dreaming. In between winning a Bafta recently for their marvellous Holocaust sequence of cartoons.
Anyway, back to my favourite subject (“The only thing that really interests me – is ME” – Bonzo Dog Doodah Band, remember?).
|Jack Trevor Story: Another dubious GSOH?|
Sample of my mother’s humour: a couple of weeks after my father died, and six months after her dog, somebody asked her: ‘Do you miss Jim, Dot?’ She smiled her mysterious smile.
‘Not as much as I miss Yogi.’
So if you thought I was being sexist about the female giggle muscle, I was not. Nor about reactions. Many ladies thought my ma was scandalous as well. Men too, I think. Jim, to name but one…
A recent comment underneath the AE blog revealed that Bill Kirton, another nautical type from the south coast of England, appears to reveal that he’s got a humour sense not unlike my own. He likes Viz, a scurrilous and quite disgusting magazine produced in Geordie-land and featuring such stalwarts as Sid the Sexist, the Fat Slags, the Drunken Bakers, George Bestial, et al. I actually have a subscription.
The current issue features a page entitled The Male Online, which is a wonderful excoriation of that most frightening of British ‘newspapers’ with a slightly different spelling. It features such headlines as Health and Safety Stalinists to Crucify Jesus Again, and I laughed so much (as we used to say in Hampshire) ‘moi leg went rusty.’ It occurs to me that Bill and I both moved way way way up north at some time in our lives. Could it be significant, dost think?
Anyway, I’ve lost me thread a bit now, and it’s almost dinner time. One of the ladies will knock me something up, I have no doubt. I need to fortify the inner man, because I’ve just remembered – I’ve got a blog to write!
Just one thing, while it's true that I do enjoy the hilarious if oft-times vulgar imaginings of the Viz collective, my own humour is of the refined, sophisticated, Wildean variety which would have had my own dear, long-departed mum saying 'I suppose you think that's clever'.
I've always found humour aimed mainly at a male audience makes me laugh like a drain - whereas the 'humour' in magazines aimed at women is utterly feeble and unfunny. I can only suppose that the editors of these magazines know their business and their market.
And yet, when I look around at my women friends, I find that, in general, they make and laugh at jokes just as filthy, surreal and dark as my male friends - so why isn't this reflected in their magazines? Why doesn't Woman's Own carry cartoons as funny as those in Private Eye or Viz?