There’s always a moment when you start to fall out of love, whether it’s with a person or an idea or a cause, even if it’s one you only narrate to yourself years after the event: a tiny thing, a wrong word, a false note, which means that things can never be quite the same again. For me it was hearing a stand-up comedian make the following observation. “These scientists eh? They’re so stupid! You know those black box flight recorders they put on aeroplanes? And you know they’re meant to be indestructible? It’s always the thing that doesn’t get smashed? So why don’t they make the planes out of the same stuff?” The audience roared with laughter at how stupid scientists were, how they couldn’t think their way out of a paper bag, but I sat feeling uncomfortable. Was I just being pedantic to feel that the joke didn’t really work because flight recorders are made out titanium and that if you made planes out of titanium rather than aluminium they’d be far too heavy to get off the ground in the first place?
(…) There was no way of deconstructing the joke (if you think this is obsessive behaviour you should try living with it) that didn’t rely on the teller and the audience complacently conspiring together to jeer at someone who knew more than they did. It sent a chill down my spine and still does. I felt betrayed by comedy in the same way that gangsta rap now makes me feel betrayed by rock music.
– Douglas Noel Adams
You almost don’t feel like making jokes, wisecracks, PJs and the like.
Kurt Vonnegut is dead. He was an influence to many, including Douglas Adams. He followed Asimov as the Honorary President of the American Humanist Association.
He wasn’t afraid of speaking the truth. Saying stuff like:
If you really want to disappoint your parents, and don’t have the nerve to be gay, go into the arts.
George W. Bush has gathered around him upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography.
No matter which one wins, we will have a Skull and Bones President at a time when entire vertebrate species, because of how we have poisoned the topsoil, the waters and the atmosphere, are becoming, hey presto, nothing but skulls and bones.
By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas in December.
And finally, How to: Write a short story.
1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4. Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
5. Start as close to the end as possible.
6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
I need to buy his books.
I saw an episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. today. Is the target audience of the crappy excuse for entertainment so dumb that they cannot handle more than one
word syllable alphabet per sentence? Unless of course, it features the word sex.
I’m going to the British Council Library tomorrow and I’m going to watch Monty Python till they pull me away from the computer terminal.
I know Nimish has already done this with Indian comedians (The Great Indian Laughter Challenge ones. The only challenge there is to find something worth laughing at), but I’ll do it with something everybody and my sister simply adores.
Here are some F.R.I.E.N.D.S. jokes: (the better ones!)
- A man leaves his cell phone on the table, causing Rachel and Phoebe to argue over who gets it. During the argument Phoebe says, “Yeah, well my mother killed herself!” She then goes on to say, “Oh, have I used that already today? Oh, I’m sorry.”
- Joey dresses up in all the clothes that Chandler owns, and remarks, “Look at me, I’m Chandler, could I be wearing any more clothes?
- The first time I met Chandler, I thought he was gay, Now here I am, Singing on his wedding day!
- Fat Monica
Right. So That’s why they use a laughter track! Not only are the viewers of the show so dumb that they need to be told when to laugh and/or cry, there is NO joke in it!
Now… here’s a John Cleese sequence in ONE part of ONE Monty Python sketch.
Cut to drawing room of large English country house. Sitting around are various standard Agatha Christie type characters, Colonel Pickering, Lady Amanda Velloper, Kirt, Anona Winn. They drink tea, read etc. Outside there is thunder. Inspector Tiger enters the room.
Inspector Tiger (John Cleese): This house is surrounded. I’m afraid I must not ask anyone to leave the room. No, I must ask nobody … no, I must ask everybody to… I must not ask anyone to leave the room. No one must be asked by me to leave the room. No, no one must ask the room to leave. I … I … ask the room shall by someone be left. Not. Ask nobody the room somebody leave shall I. Shall I leave the room? Everyone must leave the room… as it is… with them in it. Phew. Understand?
Colonel Pickering: You don’t want anybody to leave the room.
Inspector Tiger: (clicking fingers to indicate Colonel Pickering has hit the nail on the head) Now, alduce me to introlow myslef. I’m sorry. Alself me to myduce introlow myslef. Introme -to-lose mlow alself. Alme to you introself mylowduce. Excuse me a moment. (bangs himself on the side of the head) Allow me to introduce myself. I’m afraid I must ask that no one leave the room. Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Inspector Tiger.
Inspector Tiger: (jumping) Where? Where? What? Ah. Me Tiger. You Jane. Grrr. Beg your pardon, allow me to introduce myself I’m afraid I must ask that no one leave the room.
Lady Velloper: Why not?
Inspector Tiger: Elementary. Since the body was found in this room, and no one has left it. Therefore … the murderer must be somebody in this room.
Colonel Pickering: What body?
Inspector Tiger: Somebody. In this room. Must the murderer be. The murderer of the body is somebody in this room, which nobody must leave… leave the body in the room not to be left by anybody. Nobody leaves anybody or the body with somebody. Everybody who is anybody shall leave the body in the room body. Take the tablets Tiger. Anybody (as he searches for the tablets) with a body but not the body is nobody. Nobody leaves the body in the … (he takes the tablet) Albody me introbody albodyduce.
At this moment a surgeon enters with two nurses and starts to operate on his head with sawing noises.
CAPTION: ‘THE SAME DRAWING ROOM. ONE LOBOTOMY LATER’.
The surgeon is packing up. Inspector Tiger’s head is bandaged.
Surgeon: Now for Sir Gerald.
Inspector Tiger: That’s better, now I’m Inspector Tiger and I must ask that nobody leave the room. (He gives thumbs up to the surgeon who is at door) Now someone has committed a murder here, and that murderer is someone in this room. The question is … who?
Colonel Pickering: Look, there hasn’t been a murder.
Inspector Tiger: No murder.
Inspector Tiger: Oh. I don’t like it. It’s too simple, too clear cut. I’d better wait. (he sits on sofa) No, too simple, too clear cut.
The lights go out. There is a scream followed by a shot. The light goes up. Inspector Tiger is dead. He has a bullet hole in his forehead, an arrow through his neck and there is a bottle marked poison on his lap.
Colonel Pickering: By jove, he was right.
If you still think F.R.I.E.N.D.S. is better… Laugh. Titanium and Aluminium doesn’t matter.