The Cracker Comedy Festival is about to roll into town and as per usual SSS is going off to 'dirty' Newtown to laugh until a little bit of wee comes out.
So far I've booked tickets for Ross Noble and Mark Watson. I want to see more performers but the credit card won't support much more. I was really hoping that Stephen K Amos would come to Sydney again this year but sadly he's not.
Comedy has always been one of my favourite things. I think I would rather laugh than listen to a beautiful piece of music or even eat some delicious Green & Blacks chocolate. I think if you can't laugh at life you might as well be dead, or at the very least living in Burton on Trent or Mount Isa. (for cultural references there isn't much difference in these towns but 12,000 miles and the weather)
I like comedy that makes me think. I've never been a fan of slapstick. I remember going to the circus with my brother when we were children. We sat stonyfaced as the clowns did their thing; throwing buckets of confetti, treading on each others hilariously oversized shoes and tripping each other over. Other children around us were in fits of laughter but I don't remember either of us cracking a smile.
Not that I don't enjoy the misfortune of another human being falling arse over tit or getting smacked in the face with a frying pan. Some of my favourite comedy moments have been visual but they've generally been within the context of a show with funny lines. Who didn't laugh when Blackadder walloped the hapless Baldrick? And if only I could work out a way to add a clip of Only Fools and Horses to this bloody post you'd all be falling helpless to the ground, racked with silent spasms of laughter.
I like my comedy to make me think. I like good writing, different ideas, I like people who take you on a journey with their words and and turn a mundane event into something that has you wanting them to stop talking so that you can breathe and give your sides a rub. I like intelligent humour, Fry and Laurie, Bill Bailey. Girl comedians; Catherine Tate, French and Saunders, Fiona O'Loughlin (throwing an Aussie into the mix, there).
As an native of the Sceptred Isle, obviously I think British humour is the best. But if we move away from stating the obvious I'll tell you why. I think British humour is rooted in misery. From the darkest moments comes black humour, gallows humour if you will. Ben Elton came to our attention with The Young Ones but for me it was his political humour of the Thatcher years that was his finest work. My experience of Thatch wasn't the best and I hated the woman, her policies and her yes men cabinet with a passion. Laughing with Ben kept me sane and stopped my head from blowing off. I like the way that British comedians manage to take the piss out of themselves and others without being nasty. Gently poking fun - sometimes less gently than others - but never being nasty. The national stereotype of the cold, aloof and unfeeling English never sits well with me as I see us as a nation of piss takers who enjoy nothing more than a good old cackle, yes, at someone elses expense but we're laughing with them, not at them. Most of the time. Some of the time. Oh, all right, we're laughing at them. But we're laughing at ourselves as well.
Then there's the obscure and slightly off the wall comedians; Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, Ross Noble, Bill Bailey (love, love, love Bill Bailey), Monty Python. Comedy gold. But where did they come from? Who inspired them all?
These men. The Godfathers of alternative comedy. Every generation of comedians should get down on their knees and thank these men because without them we wouldn't be where we are today. Spike Milligan was a tortured soul as well as being a complete arsehole at times (and that wasn't all down to the mental illness either) but the man was a legend. I queued up for 3 and a half hours once at a book signing to meet him. He looked tired, he was getting on in years but he took the time to talk to everyone and sign everyones book. I'll never forget meeting my brief meeting with him. I wanted to thank him but in my nervousness I'm not sure I said all I wanted to.
So thanks, Spike. Thanks to the class clown who didn't get a lot of work done but made me laugh in double Maths. Thanks to all of those people who put themselves through nerves, rejection and ridicule in the hope of raising a smile from others. Without you all life would be a lot less bearable.