Monday, 1 September 2008
My friend Graham is a stand-up comedian.
He practices an observational style of humour. I ridicule him sometimes about it. I point out that basically, his line of work involves pointing at everyday things and describing what they are, in front of people. And then they laugh, maybe because they’re stupid, maybe because they’re trained to respond in this way, en masse.
He says that maybe they laugh because he’s a genius.
He then points out that he will use people that he knows, his neighbours, shopkeepers, people he sees on the bus or the train, events that unfold in the street, or on the news, as the basis for his act. He is picking on the dumb things that these people do, the minutiae of their boring lives, and making people laugh at it.
‘Maybe,’ he says, ‘what is the funniest thing about it all, is that they think they’re laughing at some dumb neighbour of mine. But the reason they find it funny is because they do it and their family and friends all do the same. They’re just laughing at themselves.’
He goes on: ‘They know how dumb they are, how stupid the way they live their lives has ended up, they’re confronted with this and then all they can really do is laugh about it. And they’re paying for it, they’re paying the guy who’s throwing all this shit in their faces. Now how fucking funny is that?’
I agree it’s funny, I laugh a little, but I feel weird, like Graham is actually getting annoyed now. I posit that maybe it’s like therapy, laughing at yourself. He supposes it just might be.
Then he looks up and stops where he is. Graham points right up into the blue sky at a cloud, swirled almost into a grin above a church. ‘That’s God, right there,’ says Graham, deadpan.
I can’t tell if he’s joking.