The wonderful thing about comedy, especially satire, is that it tells the story of what is really going on inside. Take this scene from Fawlty Towers. John Cleese in conniptions, ranting at his car which has broken down (because he hasn’t had it serviced, he’s been avoiding the responsibility – which is a major theme in the show) and he, naturally, blames the car. It speaks to the times we have been frustrated with our car or similar object. Computer perhaps? It reminds us that we sometimes internally rant, we might also mentally pick up a branch and thrash the car, threatening it to get it to start. We might not physically do it but we think it, well, some of us might, and that’s why satire is so funny, we know it.
One of the main points of Fawlty Towers is that Cleese’s character Basil is constantly feeling victimised, or frustrated, by others. His blind spot is that he cannot see that it is his own behaviour that is his downfall, not the behaviour of others. His lack of attention to detail, his choice of builder, his innability to get the car serviced on time, his failure to prepare for a health inspection and etc. etc. The show was also an outworking of the therapeutic relationship between John Cleese and his therapist Robin Skynner (1922 – 2000). Skynner was a family therapist and specialised in communication process, Fawlty Towers deals with communication issues in a number of relationships, and looks at self deception, as well as our unwillingness to deal with our own stuff.
Conniptions, rage, hissy fits, whatever, we deceive ourselves if we don’t look deeper and own the roots of our frustration or anger. Why beat the car if we’ve failed to take it to the dealer for its scheduled service? Why blame others when the fault lies with ourselves? (Of course there are a number of well honed answers and a body of research to answer those question) The beginning of conniptions is the time to take stock and attend before damage is done to a relationship, or the car, besides, beating the car verbally or physically (or a person, heaven forbid!) won’t work. Dealing with our own stuff does actually work.
the wind buffets branches madly flail about but stillness bears fruit ©Paul Cannon