Thursday, 19 January 2017

Don't make me laugh...

According to the ‘memories’ that FaceBook serves me up each day my life seems to be one long joke. Maybe it’s because on most days I try to post a joke first thing in the morning to brighten people’s day. I like to think of my friends smiling, laughing out loud, or even groaning. It doesn’t matter how they react just as long as the joke gives them something good that they would not have had without it.

I’ve been doing this for about four years now and it gets harder and harder to find that goodish, short joke to post each day. I exhausted Tommy Cooper long ago and sometimes I’ve had to resort to making up my own. As yet I’ve not used the joke that sticks (excuse the pun) in the forefront of my mind – ‘What’s brown and sticky? A stick’ – but I’m sure that day will come. I also have a lot of jokes that I haven’t posted because not everybody can see that humour doesn’t recognise boundaries.

Life isn’t always funny. In fact, sometimes it really is a shitter and there seems nothing to laugh about. There’s humour in most things, although much of it can be uncomfortable to mention and of course increasingly a lot of subjects are taboo. I sometimes wonder if we will get to a point where you won’t be able to make a joke about anything without offending someone and if that happens our sitcoms are going to be pretty dull – ‘pass the salt please’.

I was listening to a radio sitcom about social workers the other day and, although it was really funny, I thought: ‘This must be really offensive to some social workers’, particularly the ones without a bloody sense of humour and an inflated view of their own self-worth. Of course I am a product of the seventies where everything was fair game in the fun-poking stakes and I sometimes wonder if that wasn’t a better state of affairs that the horribly guarded humour we are forced into these days.

I don’t think that telling an Irishman joke makes me anti-Irish or a blonde joke makes me a misogynist – I actually like blondes a lot (both women and men you understand. I don’t want to be sexist). But I know there are people who would unfriend me if I told a Pakistani joke, or a joke about cancer, or abortion, or wife-beating, I might even be threatened if I joked about any number of Gods, and if I told a fat bloke joke I’d have to unfriend myself. 

Some of those subjects make me feel uncomfortable even mentioning joking about them, but I know people who have been through those things that do. Maybe if it's about you then that makes it okay; I really don't know. It’s all so very complicated knowing just what you can make light of and what you can’t. Sometimes I know that I’ve got it wrong, but I also know that if I tell a joke it isn’t out of any sort of hatred or disdain. It’s because beyond the easily affected outrage that so many people proclaim there really is something funny; sometimes sad and bitter, but funny nevertheless and humour is cathartic - as the actress probably didn’t say to the Bishop because she wouldn’t have known what the word meant.

Me, I try to find the joke in everything. Because in awful circumstances what else is there to do but try to smile? Life isn’t all Tommy Cooper. Or maybe it is.

Keep smiling.

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