Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Fine Art of Funniness

by RM

I don't laugh aloud when reading much - so have to check out the suggestions this week. Long ago while reading the Jeeves and Wooster Omnibus end to end I did laugh plenty. Other than that, it's mostly audiobooks which I listen to, to help me sleep, that work.

These were two laugh-out-loud funny Libravox selections:

"The Diary of a Nobody" by George and Weedon Grossmith.

"Stage Land" by Jerome K. Jerome.

I'm sure it was a combination of the writing, the reading, and the listener that did its magic.  

But the last time I laughed aloud was of all things the first paragraph of a Sherlock Holmes mystery, "The Adventure of the Priory School":

We have had some dramatic entrances and exits upon our small stage at Baker Street, but I cannot recollect anything more sudden and startling than the first appearance of Thornycroft Huxtable, M.A., Ph.D., etc. His card, which seemed too small to carry the weight of his academic distinctions, preceded him by a few seconds, and then he entered himself -- so large, so pompous, and so dignified that he was the very embodiment of self-possession and solidity. And yet his first action when the door had closed behind him was to stagger against the table, whence he slipped down upon the floor, and there was that majestic figure prostrate and insensible upon our bearskin hearthrug.

As I reread it now, I wonder why it was funny enough to make me burst out laughing. Again just the chemistry of the moment, I guess.

The other day a friend of mine said that when she finds something funny in a novel it creates a bond between reader and writer. Same goes for other emotions, but laughter is special. 

Really amazing how one human can transmit humour through years, across cultures, geography, surviving even translation. Ages ago some fellow typing away at his desk in Great Britain, a man now long dead, has made me in Canada in 2016, listening on my iPhone, laugh out loud, and with nothing but words. It's quite a gift.

 

6 comments:

Paul D. Marks said...

RM, I think the Holmes quote was funny, especially this: “His card, which seemed too small to carry the weight of his academic distinctions, preceded him by a few seconds, and then he entered himself -- so large, so pompous, and so dignified that he was the very embodiment of self-possession and solidity.” Love the image of the card being too small to carry all those distinctions.

And I agree with your saying, “Really amazing how one human can transmit humour through years, across cultures, geography, surviving even translation. Ages ago some fellow typing away at his desk in Great Britain, a man now long dead, has made me in Canada in 2016…” I think there’s a lot to be said for making people laugh and entertaining them. I always go back to the Preston Sturges movie Sullivan’s Travels where Sullivan, a film director, wants to make a ponderous, serious movie. And through his adventures in Sturges’ movie he finds that what people really want is to laugh.

RM Greenaway said...

Thanks for your comments, Paul. That sounds like an interesting film (and funny).

Paul D. Marks said...

It's a great film -- if one likes old movies -- and definitely worth checking out.

Art Taylor said...

Nice post, Rae—sorry I missed it yesterday. (Not sure why it didn't show up in my feed yesterday morning.) I don't often laugh out loud myself, though occasionally smile at something I've read, and I enjoyed not only the passage from the Sherlock story but also the image of you laughing yourself over it. And good point on that connection over the ages, as Paul already said too. :-)

RM Greenaway said...

Thanks Art! I slept in and posted a bit late, just can't seem to get that scheduled-post option thing to work ... :P

Art Taylor said...

Ah! Sorry about that—but certainly understand. And always enjoy your posts. :-)