Good One, Mate!

Sunday, 11 November 2012 - 3:39pm IST

The true element of humour has been replaced by forced tickles that can come with unwanted side effects.

There aren’t enough good comedies going around these days. Be it on screen, stage or even in books — the true element of humour has been replaced by forced tickles that can come with unwanted side effects. Depression for a prolonged period could be one of those.

Incidentally, these days, we often find ourselves gagging over silly mistakes of others. And I am not an innocent. For instance, I was reading a play the other day where duct tape was spelt by ‘duck tape’. It was funny; so much so, I almost thought the writer did it purposely. Of course, not that I went ‘quack’ after reading it, but I assumed, even for a nanosecond, that the playwright was simply casting a ‘web’ of jokes that we’d get to soon. I drowned immediately after.

But then, there are the accents; you can always make someone laugh over them, can’t you? Indian accents are quite popular globally as people try to copy our intonations, throwing the familiar nod in, to make it slightly more believable. The British are always amused by the American way of speaking and even as we women swoon over the French roll of the tongue, I bet there are some who find a French speaking English good enough for a hearty laugh. What has the world come to?

Is that why Indian films with absolutely slapstick humour become so popular? I never quite got them, not that I have many regrets. I always like a good joke that makes me grin widely from within instead of being forced to chortle in public. A good joke is one that stays with you for a long while and one that can be thrown back into the public any time.

A fellow passenger on a flight, an Englishman, who was returning home after working in the Middle East for a few months, was talking about his wife and kids. “It’s odd, even after being married for more than 15 years, I miss my wife. I guess I am a one-woman-man. Plus you can’t really shoot your spouse in my country; it’s illegal. Rather odd, don’t you think?”
I cracked up — seriously — and stayed cracked for a few minutes. A simple joke is most often a good joke.

Remember Yes Minister and subsequently, Yes Prime Minister? That political tele-drama is something plenty of sitcoms could learn from. Or Coupling for that matter. All British of course.
In American television, FRIENDS tried to be funny. And they were funny — and sanitary and child-friendly. Somewhere I remember reading how six adults, all close friends, live in New York and never used the ‘F’ word.

Actually, that’s the funniest part of all. The Big Bang Theory, I believe, breaks tradition in many ways. It’s American and yet doesn’t state the obvious to be humourous. But if you look closely, it does take advantage of a certain mindset to get the ball rolling — geeks are always capable of making us laugh by just being what they are.

I haven’t read a good comedy in a long time and I am not referring to any big, fat joke books. I mean a real comedy. Funnily, author Rachna Singh’s book Dating, Diapers and Denial made me laugh. I might not identify with most of what she’s gone on about but she’s used sarcasm effectively — by sticking to stating the ironies of life quite precisely and they are always funny — even if they appear a wee cruel.

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