Accent on Humour

Jaycee returns as Guest Author, with an interesting piece on generational changes in types, and appreciation, of humour. Thank you, Jaycee – it is a subject of considerable interest to me.

Recently, I wrote a cameo piece about a cross-dresser and the time and place he came out publicly in a small country town. I wrote it as (I thought) a humorous piece, acting on the logic that where or whenever such an event happened, be it in the place chosen for its degree of comfort and camaraderie, or in the main street in full drag, it was bound to be confronting in a pathos – bathos scenario that could occasion a few laughs from the distance of many years hence. I sent it to a younger person employed in an local government artistic / cultural occupation as an adjunct to a conversation we had on certain local issues. I was mistaken … at least, mistaken in the perception of what a new generation of readers finds funny. Perhaps, as has been suggested, my aged, male, working-class perception of what is or is not funny is now thoroughly dated! “It’s just not funny anymore” has been at odd times leveled accusingly at yours truly. I’ve had my own doubts before … it may be time to believe it!

Though, when one analyses the condition that creates a moment of humour, so that a laugh involuntarily springs from our lips, it is understood as the sudden leap from pathos to bathos and the swiftly altered situation thereof – like the flaying of arms and legs in a sudden banana-slip moment – a kind of slapstick suddenness … but something has changed. There now seems to be some hesitancy to guffaw innocently at others foolishness or mishaps. You think about it – how long since you have heard a string of good jokes? I used to hear many … one tuned one’s ear for the grand joke from a good joke teller. They were considered rare treasures … one good joke could make or break a reputation in any front-bar! You remember that “Clayton’s … the drink you have when …” advert’ with … what’s isname? … oh yeah! … Jack Thompson, THAT was the accepted locale for the dispersion of male humour. I’m sure that other gender has a similar locale!

Now it’s all gone, but people are still laughing, the guffaws are still coming … but what are we now laughing at, if not socially incorrect slapstick? I think we are more inclined to seek out humour in the more perverted absurdities of life – in the increasingly bizarro-behaviours of people and situations. I think we are finding more laughs in a kind of sado-humour than we did before … and it is a worrying thing. I’m not saying certain ghastly racist/sexist jokes aren’t deserving of the dustbin of history, but there is a worrying criticism of satire that is very over the top censorship. There seems less inclination to humour, and more inclination to litigate such skits as one would find on The Hampster or Ripping Yarns or Python etc.

Yet, I have seen rise alongside such cruel treatment that one occasionally views on a channel-surf expedition of Reality TV, an appreciation of sado-humour, where cruel or victim-selection programs top the ratings. I have watched several so-called funny home-videos skits that seem to me to be brutal and dangerous … one can see such moments have been deliberately staged to get the video on the show. Same with those competitive cooking / singing programs etc. There can be no better display of sado-humour than one sees on such channels … yet they are the top-rating programs. What gives?

One can track the evolution of such sado-humour back to the days of try-hard Hollywood black humour, where the big studios tried their hand at so-called crime-comedy. I remember the hit movie Beverly Hills Cop was the beginning of the genre … it was billed as a comedy, yet I counted seven quite brutal killings in the show (I was a “forced” viewer – was taken to the cinema against my better judgement by acquaintances who “just loved it and you will too!!”) … I hated it – it made me wince. I’m a sensitive bloke.

Indeed, the humour of the aged, white, working male may be dated beyond redemption … but the basis for such humour, i.e., the situation comedy surely will not date. The spectator / viewer, looking on to the unfolding of a unscripted public slapstick moment, whether by accident or by self-deprecation, surely must be allowed a release of laughter at the ironic absurdity of the situation without guilt or remorse, rather than be driven to approvingly laugh sneeringly, cruelly, publicly, at the misfortune and hard-luck of others.

Bring back The Hampster crew, I say!

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669 thoughts on “Accent on Humour

  1. The headline Abbott wishes was about him. How a REAL leader handles an international tragedy.

    International community in awe of PM’s handling of MH17 tragedy

    The article also said that Najib steered clear of joining many Western leaders in blaming the rebels for downing the airliner and preserved Malaysia’s traditional stance of not taking sides among the United States, Russia and China.

    “Instead, he quietly began looking for a back channel to speak with the insurgents,” it said.

    Najib, known as a calm and pragmatic mediator, managed to reach out to rebel leader Alexander Borodai, through an unidentified intermediary.

    “Najib’s intervention resolved a diplomatically awkward situation, enabling the bodies to be retrieved and an investigation to be initiated,” it said

    http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/07/25/WSJ-Risk-Najib-took-paid-off-International-community-in-awe-of-PMs-handling-of-MH17-tragedy/

  2. leonetwo

    Especially when you consider Najib’s step-grandmother was on flight MH17. This from the New York Times shows how Himbo Abbott for the sake of his tough guy fantasies is delaying what the families want.

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia on Thursday ruled out negotiating with the pro-Russian rebels, saying that “we recognize the authority of the Ukraine government over the Ukrainian territory,” as well as the authority of the United Nations. (Experts from Malaysia, whose government dealt with the rebels directly, were the first at the crash site.)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/25/world/europe/ukraine-disaster-in-search-of-an-investigation.html?hpw&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=HpHedThumbWell&module=well-region&region=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well&_r=0

  3. Well, sort of answering questions.

    The minister just admonised the “false reporting” of others for the initial incorrect reports that there were 153 rather than 157 asylum seekers. This is a curious response, given the culture of secrecy surrounding boat arrivals and the refusal of the government to confirm or deny turnback operations.

    We are now back to that familiar phrase: “For the past seven months not a single successful venture.”

    The minister is also refusing to say whether the incident will be classed as a boat arrival under the Operation Sovereign Borders.

  4. I am so sick of being told the howard government stopped the boats. They did not. Here’s what happened.

    In 2001 Howard paid the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) millions of dollars to set up a so-called processing centre in Indonesia where asylum seekers would be housed, fed and eventually processed. They were also promised resettlement. For a short time the boats did stop because all the potential passengers were in this centre. Then people incarcerated began to realise it had all been a con. No-one was being processed, no-one was being resettled and so the boats started coming again.

    Howard created a short pause in boat arrivals at our expense. He did nothing to solve the refugee problem. People were trapped in that camp for years. Some are still there.

    It’s all here. Someone should give Morrison a copy to read.
    http://expertpanelonasylumseekers.dpmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/public-submissions/WoldringK.pdf

  5. I suspect the decision to bring those asylum seekers to the mainland was all about getting the whole thing out of the news. We won’t be hearing much more about them – operational matters, top secret, the usual garbage. Abbott’s sudden rebirth as an alleged caring leader has been taking a bit of a caning from those concerned about kids being locked up below decks for weeks. We can’t have that.

    Ther’s also the current High Court action. It’s possible Morrison has been told by his legal people to get those people to a place of safety ASAP. How convenient for him to be able to drag the Indian government into the mess right now. He can now pass off everything as someone else’s problem. It’s all a bit odd, though, after the reports from international media about Morrison being rebuffed by the Indian government. Desperate spin for home consumption?

  6. Leone,
    You can bet the whole of Morriscum’s presser is a tangled web of half-truths, no truth at all and its all wrapped up securely in his secret operational bullshit.

    To me, it defies logic that all this secrecy is not able to be penetrated by our fabulous band of investigative journalists and, as well, it defies logic that there are no leaks and whispers squeezing out through the cracks. We, the public are being treated with contempt.

  7. Maybe it’s another unicorn. With Hockey’s book and the leadership thing in the news, it’s not looking good for Tony. Also, still on leadership, Morrison has ambitions too. And it’s probably time for him to look more likable.

  8. gigilene

    Perhaps having the MH17 taking up most of the publicity glare it is a good time to bury the back down.

  9. The abbott’s new presser – a further 100 AFP being sent to the crash site. He is in ‘thank you’ mode, even thanking Shorten…..wonder what the levy will be as HoJo recoups the cost.

SPEAK UP FOLKS

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