Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean.
In a documentary he did on comedy I remember Atkinson saying that he’d modelled Bean on the great silent comedy actors, Buster Keaton in particular. Atkinson was quite serious about his comedy. Mr. Bean is not everyone’s cup of tea though. Comedy is a matter of taste, some people struggle to laugh at contrived misfortune, others don’t get certain types of jokes. I love all types of humour, and I struggle to be serious for too long. I think life without humour becomes a rut, which “is a grave with both ends kicked out” (attributed to Earl Nightingale). Unfortunately we have entered an age of poltical correctness that won’t allow for certain types of humour – it would be hard to imagine Benny Hill starting out now.
I thoroughly enjoy the slapstick of Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, the satire of Monty Python or Littel Britain, the black humour of Blackadder, the innocent humour of the Vicar of Dibbley or Keeping Up Appearances, and the pointed humour of Yes Minister. The gentle humour in Friends, or the raucous Seinfeld, political humour with John Stewart. Some of you may remember Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, in Australia the Graham Kennedy Show, the Glass house and so on, too many to list here.
Humour is even acknowledged in religion. Osho taught that laughter was releasing, and held sessions in laughter release, he also taught that laughter brought energy to the fore and was for a few moments a meditative state. Both Jesus and St. Paul used sarcasm. The Christian Pentecostal movement encouraged holy laughter as healing. In the Medieval Church a mass was developed in France where the lowest of society were invited to take high position and celebrate their own version of the mass, a social inversion, pure comedy. It was an attempt to offer an opporunity to release social pressure. Naturally, the Church hierarchy were horrified, but the Feast Of Fools is still celebrated (and still upsets serious minded purists, which in my view is a good thing). In his book, “My Spiritual Journey” the Dalai Lama, reflecting on the many sadnesses of exile and hardship, says: “… I am a professional laugher …” There is even laugher yoga.
Laughter is also homespun, families have their own treasure chest of humourous moments. Some yo uhave had to have been there to really get the humour. Mine include dad handing mum the steering wheel when it detached from the column (as we entered the school parking lot). Or when our family were at a Chinese restaurant and the vegetable oil for the sizzle dish spilled onto a napkin and my yongest son said: “I’ll help” and tried to blow it out, turning it into a blow torch that set fire to my beard (fortunately quickly doused). We are still laughing.
Laughter is releasing and it is claimed that it brings several health benefits. It destresses, uplifts, it is contagious, breaks down barriers, is enjoyable … Some of you would be familiar with the maxim of the Readers Digest – “laughter is the best medicine.” I certianly feel much better after a good laugh.
I love a good laugh and I don’t mind being laughed about. I like ot think I’m a professional laugher – I hope you are too.
For those who are more serious minded a video about laughter 😊
sitting for dinner my beard is aflame now laughter douses it ©Paul Cannon