Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What makes me laugh and what doesn't, part 1

I've been meaning to write more personal articles on this blog, but seem to keep finding too much inspiration from current affairs, so here goes.

As you might have figured out from my blog, I'm a person who likes to look at everything in the world from a light-hearted or humorous point of view. If Jews make such great comedians and the Chinese are supposed to be the Jews of the East (y'know, mass migration and encountering discrimination and reputation for business acumen etc etc) then why aren't there more funny Chinese people about?

So this is a quick entry to describe what it is in British mainstream media that I find funny and what I don't find funny.

FUNNY: Father Ted

It's hard to define why I like Father Ted so much. It contains lot of surreal moments and juxtapositions of things that should not go together (Priests on the Eurosong competition singing about a "lovely horse") but also more realistic observations (such as the couple who run a shop who hate-each-others-guts but pretend to be lovey-dovey in front of Father Ted.)

It also treads a very thin line between outright criticism of the Catholic Church (corrupt and domineering Bishop Brennan, protests against a blasphemous film that Ted actually wants to watch) and complete silliness (erm, see Father Dougal). One of my favourite episodes is the one where Father Ted keeps mistakenly giving the impression he's a racist and a fascist in front of the local Chinese community and the scene where he's standing behind a bit of dirt on a window that makes him look like Hitler giving a rallying speech is just brilliant.

And like all good comedy shows, they knew when to stop. (See Fawlty Towers, the Office, don't see any of the Absolutely Fabulous episodes after the '90s)

UNFUNNY: Little Britain

To brand Little Britain totally unfunny is a bit unkind because there are lots of good ideas and funny situations on show. However, I can't help but feel that the scriptwriters are on auto-pilot here. Let's find something funny and then repeat the sketch over and over again and milk it for what we can.

So we have the pushchair couple at the park, the pushchair couple on a speedboat, the pushchair couple at a swimming pool (you get the gist), all basically telling one joke that the guy in the chair is not really disabled, but his lisping carer does not know this. Ha ha?

So why is it so popular?

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